What's next for Canelo?
By Hector Franco
September 22, 2016
Last Saturday night in front of over 50,000 fans at Cowboys Stadium Canelo Alvarez won the WBO 154-pound title from Liam Smith. After a dominating performance where he scored three knockdowns, two by body shots, Canelo’s performance was secondary. The narrative was about what will happen next in Canelo’s career. As HBO’s Max Kellerman asked Canelo, fans want to know when he will be stepping in the ring with Gennady Golovkin.
With a public negotiation currently ongoing between Canelo and Golovkin to take place in September 2017, fans are wondering what Canelo’s next move will be. The plan originally was to take a fight in New York to open up a new market in December 2016. Those plans changed when it was found out that Alvarez hurt his right hand in the 2nd round in his fight with Liam Smith. Even with the injury, Alvarez and Golden Boy are on the clock. The pressure is on them to make a fight with an opponent that the public would accept on the road to Golovkin.
The L.A. Times reported that the PPV sales figures for the Liam Smith fight are going to range below or at 300,000 buys. These numbers are similar to what Alvarez did against Alfredo Angulo and Erislandy Lara. But they pale in comparison to his fights with Amir Khan and Miguel Cotto. Alvarez’s drawing power can’t be questioned, but even the biggest stars need the right opponent to make a big event. The days of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather selling million dollar PPV figures with opponent’s fans didn’t care to see are over. After Alvarez’s big boast in his post fight, interview after the Amir Khan fight fans were let down that a fight with Golovkin had yet to take place. Only if Manny Pacquiao decided to move up in weight or Floyd Mayweather decided to make a comeback against Canelo would the Mexican be able to sell 1 million in PPV sales. Alvarez is without question is the A-side against Golovkin. But it doesn’t mean Alvarez doesn’t need the Kazakhstani star.
Alvarez is now the WBO 154-pound champion and has inherited a tough opponent in winning this title. The WBO champion at 154 used to be Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade (23-0, 16 KOs) before he was stripped of his title in 2015. Andrade will be Canelo’s #1 contender for his WBO title. Andrade is one of the most complete fighters in the sport and with Alvarez already having faced fighters like Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara in close bouts; Andrade would be reason enough for the Mexican star to once again drop a title. Alvarez has gotten considerably better and more seasoned since his fights with Lara and Trout. If there were a time to face Andrade it would be now as he has only fought once a year for the past three years. Even then the fight has virtually no chance of taking place.
The other option for Alvarez leading into a fight with Gennady Golovkin is a middleweight associated with Golden Boy. The first choice would be former IBF middleweight champion, David Lemieux (35-3, 32 KOs). The Canadian power puncher is one of the sharpest punchers in boxing and would test Alvarez at middleweight. Lemieux has a fight scheduled in Montreal this October against Christian Rios. Should he come out victorious a fight next year with Alvarez would be huge. It would be the perfect opponent to open up the New York market with, in 2017. The added bonus being that Lemieux would be a common opponent with Golovkin.
If Alvarez’s plans are indeed to move up to middleweight and face Golovkin, current WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) would be a good opponent. Saunders will be fighting a currently unknown opponent in October. Although Saunders is a fighter who likes to use lateral movement, he hasn’t proven to be on the level of an Erislandy Lara. Along with Saunders being inactive for most of this year, Alvarez could take advantage and pick up another middleweight title.
Whatever Canelo Alvarez decides to do next it will be examined and dissected by fans and media alike. He is the biggest star in the sport at this moment and what he does will affect other events in the sport. Fans are now more impatient than they have ever been. With competition growing from the UFC, fans want Alvarez to face the opponents they want sooner rather than later.
(Featured Photo: Will Hart/HBO)