What’s next for Canelo Alvarez?

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Canelo Alvarez now has three middleweight titles. Does he go for all four, or is a third fight with GGG coming?

Pretty much everyone liked the matchup between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs, but very few thought Jacobs was actually going to win. Canelo swept our staff picks 4-0 on Friday, and then on Saturday did pretty much as expected, outpointing Jacobs over 12 rounds in a tactical affair.

The highlights weren’t much to see, really, and there was no controversy on the scorecards this time. Alvarez (52-1-1, 35 KO) isn’t miles better than Jacobs (35-3, 29 KO), but he was better on Saturday.

So now that the 28-year-old Mexican superstar, DAZN’s $365 million man, is past Daniel Jacobs, what’s next?

There are two major possibilities.

Demetrius Andrade (or Maciej Sulecki)

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Canelo has stated many, many, many times that one of his goals — maybe the main goal — for 2019 is to fully unify the middleweight division. He had the WBC and WBA titles already, and the win over Jacobs gave him the IBF belt, too.

That leaves one title: the WBO belt, held right now by two-division titleholder Demetrius Andrade.

Andrade (27-0, 17 KO) won the vacant belt last October, following the cancellation of his fight with then-titleholder Billy Joe Saunders, who failed a VADA drug test and then relinquished the belt right before the WBO could strip him. (Don’t worry, there are no hard feelings — Saunders will fight Shefat Isufi for the vacant WBO super middleweight title on May 18.)

So Andrade beat Walter Kautondokwa to win the belt in Boston, and then defended in January against Artur Akavov in New York.

The 31-year-old “Boo Boo” is now set to face Maciej Sulecki on June 29 in Providence, Rhode Island, Andrade’s hometown. That fight will air as a DAZN main event.

Andrade is a good boxer, skilled and all that, but not the most exciting guy to watch, and not the biggest name. Sulecki (28-1, 11 KO) is a good, solid fighter himself; he gave Daniel Jacobs a decent challenge in defeat about a year ago, and survived a late onslaught from Gabriel Rosado to win a decision on March 15 in an exciting fight.

Sulecki won’t be a crazy underdog against Andrade, probably, but he’ll be the underdog. The winner of this fight would be attractive to Alvarez mostly for the chance to add the fourth belt. It’s very difficult to fully unify a division these days. Beyond just the politics between promoters — which won’t be an issue in this situation, everyone is with DAZN — there is the sanctioning body politics. Mandatory defenses have to be made and all that. It’s hard to keep all four titles for any amount of time even if you manage to get them all.

But let’s say that Canelo-Andrade/Sulecki just doesn’t light DAZN’s fire. After all, this subscription service is still in its infancy in the United States, and Canelo Alvarez’s fights are the biggest attraction they have. They need subscribers. Well then, that leads us to…

Gennadiy Golovkin

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Look, I’m also getting used to “Gennadiy,” but he’s asked media to spell it that way.

The thing about Canelo-GGG III is that DAZN very obviously want it. Tom Loeffler has said they want it. Eddie Hearn, who doesn’t promote Canelo or GGG, knows that they want it. There’s a good reason for that.

We’re two fights into Canelo’s 11-fight deal. He faced Rocky Fielding in December, which — y’know. It was a stay-busy, a way for Canelo to win a secondary belt at 168 and call himself a three-division champion.

And then he fought Jacobs. Good fight. Big fight. But if Canelo-Jacobs had been on traditional pay-per-view, does it do a million on May 4? Maybe, but I don’t think it’s quite a guarantee.

We do know that Canelo-GGG does a million on pay-per-view. In Sept. 2017, their first fight did 1.3 million buys for HBO PPV. In Sept. 2018, the rematch did 1.1 million buys. Both fights were competitive, exciting enough, and had controversial outcomes — a draw in the first meeting, a majority decision for Alvarez in the second.

There is still demand for Canelo vs GGG again, and it’s by far the biggest fight DAZN can make to drive people to sign up and see what they’re all about. There’s a reason they went out to aggressively pursue Canelo when his HBO deal ended, and a reason they did the same for Golovkin, who finally signed a six-fight deal with the company in March. They want this fight. And that’s why GGG chose DAZN over ESPN or Showtime, too. He wants Canelo again.

Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KO) is taking his own stay-busy fight on June 8, returning to Madison Square Garden to face little-known Canadian Steve Rolls in his DAZN debut. He also recently split with trainer Abel Sanchez, and has hired Johnathon Banks as his new lead man in the corner.

Golovkin is 37 years old. A third fight with Alvarez in September is probably his last best chance to get an official win over his rival. I think it’s the fight the most people want to see, and most importantly, the fight that the people paying these guys their giant guarantees want to see.

Darkhorse Options

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These things are almost certainly not happening, but we’re already here, let’s pad this bad boy:

  • Canelo could conceivably fight again at 168 pounds, as he did for the bout with Rocky Fielding. The biggest challenge for him at that weight would be WBA titleholder Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KO). Rocky Fielding had size advantages over Canelo when Alvarez did a super middleweight fight; towered over the Mexican, in fact. Fielding is 6’1”. Smith is 6’3”. Also, Smith is a lot better than Fielding. He proved that in 2015 when he stopped Fielding in 2:45 in Liverpool. Smith is currently slated to fight on June on the Joshua-Ruiz card in New York. Smith would be a legitimate risk for Alvarez.
  • Some of you may forget that Daniel Jacobs was not the first choice for May 4. Not at all, in fact. Super not at all. Promoter Oscar De La Hoya was asked in December about Alvarez’s May date, and he said then, “Not in May, not at all, nope. I secured the date in May for Canelo Alvarez, we have no opponent whatsoever, but not Jacobs.” We suspected then that Golden Boy really wanted to do Canelo vs David Lemieux on May 4. Then Lemieux had to go to the hospital trying to make weight in December, then he got hurt and had to pull out of his scheduled fight this weekend with John Ryder. But anyway, there’s an outside chance Golden Boy could try to push for the Canelo-Lemieux fight they’ve really wanted to do for a while.
  • Jeff Horn. That weirdo Aussie really wants to fight Canelo, and he’s not tied to any of the major American broadcasters or #squads.

Again, it’s not going to be any of those things. It’s going to be either Golovkin or the Andrade-Sulecki winner, and I’d put money on Golovkin right now. Not literally, I’m not a gambler, really, but that would be my bet.

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