Golden Boy Promotions pulled off a big surprise on Tuesday, finalizing a May 7 bout between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Amir “King” Khan without the rest of the world hearing a whisper. But while this HBO PPV bout will be a blockbuster for sure, it’s going to be just as controversial.
The Canelo Weight
The bout will be for Alvarez’s WBC middleweight title but it will be fought at a catch-weight of 155 pounds, the same weight where Alvarez fought his last four bouts against Alfredo Angulo, Erislandy Lara, James Kirkland and Miguel Cotto. Interestingly, the fight against Cotto was for the WBC middleweight title despite the fact that it was fought five pounds below the middleweight limit. 155 is also the catch-weight that Canelo had hoped to fight Gennady Golovkin against but which GGG’s camp vehemently rejected.
Alvarez has drawn a lot of flak for fighting at 155 while refusing to vacate the WBC middleweight title. The WBC too has been criticized for allowing Alvarez to hold on to the belt while continuing to fight at 155. Detractors even jokingly asked boxing’s alphabet organizations to create a new weight class for 155 pounds and call it Canelo-weight because of Alvarez’s preference to fight there.
Fighting a Smaller Foe
Picking Khan also leaves more questions than answers for Alvarez who is being touted as the heir to Floyd Mayweather’s PPV kingship. The WBC ordered the winner of Alvarez-Cotto to face Golovkin, who is the WBC’s interim champion as soon as possible. The negotiations were extended and then later Alvarez ( Golovkin too ) was allowed a voluntary defense by the end of May 2016 before being forced to face GGG. According to the WBC, the voluntary defense for each fighter would be to help build up a proposed September 2016 bout.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Golovkin would be facing the IBF’s mandatory challenger Dominic Wade on April 23 although his camp preferred to fight Alvarez during the Cinco De Mayo weekend. Instead of fighting a true middleweight challenger, Canelo has decided to do a superfight yes, but against an opponent who’s fought at welterweight just thrice and only since 2014. Khan does have a big body frame for a welterweight but Canelo just chose to fight a smaller foe.
Making a Superfight
Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy know a lot about a superfight because the last superfight in boxing pitted the original Golden Boy against then Lightweight champion Manny Pacquiao. It was a different situation back then because De La Hoya was almost retired when he fought Pacquiao in December 2008 but still the fight generated a lot of interest, not to mention revenues and PPV buys. What more now that Canelo is in his prime and has the backing of the entire Mexican population?
Khan too has a solid British backing, although his recent inactivity may have diminished it. But make no mistake, These are two very marketable superstars and this fight looks to resurrect the PPV market after the PBC’s rise and the poor showing of Mayweather-Berto (550K buys) and GGG-Lemieux (150K buys). Canelo’s fight with Cotto did 900K buys. Canelo-Khan, because of the fighters’ star power and the intriguing nature of the bout should be the first boxing PPV to make 1M buys after MayPac obliterated records with 4.4M PPV buys in May 2015.
Continuing to fight at 155 pounds is an insult to the middleweight division of boxing which peaked during the late 70’s thru the 80’s. That golden era saw four Hall of Famers in Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran took turns in fighting one another without regard for win-loss records or fight purse. Each one took at least a loss from their battles and despite that, they are still revered as four of the greatest fighters ever.
In the case of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, we’re not sure if he wants to keep a perfect record like Mayweather did until he retired. But to continue to claim to be the Middleweight champion without a fight at 160 pounds is an insult to the legends we mentioned. He can fight at 155 pounds but he cannot dictate his opponents to do so because the middleweight limit is 160 pounds. Having said that, we may never see an undisputed middleweight champion since Jermain Taylor because Canelo refuses to fight at 160 and the WBC condones his actions. We can’t blame him though because boxing is more business now than sport. And yes, we can’t blame him if that’s the legacy he chooses. The truth is, Alvarez is a champion in a weight class that doesn’t exist, unless of course you recognize now Canelo-weight or 155 pounds.