SAN ANTONIO – No one was allowed to mention the “C” word to Gennadiy Golovkin during his first fight week in 14 months.
Four states to the west, Canelo Alvarez placed no such restrictions on discussing that ever-problematic potential third fight against his nemesis. Though fully focused on challenging Callum Smith on Saturday night, Alvarez at least acknowledged the possibility of him and Golovkin finally fighting a third time.
Regenerating interest in their trilogy obviously was what DAZN’s decision-makers had in mind when they scheduled Golovkin’s fight against Kamil Szeremeta for Friday night and Alvarez-Smith for the following evening. After all the drama they’ve endured while dealing with both boxers since signing them to nine-figure contracts, Canelo-Golovkin III still is the fight they want for their streaming service above all others.
Golovkin is 38 and Alvarez won their 12-round rematch by majority decision more than two years ago. Those aren’t the numbers that matter most, as Alvarez realizes boxing Golovkin again remains THE money fight for the sport’s most prominent active star.
“Well, look, at the end of 2019 and at the beginning of 2020, we were in serious conversations,” Alvarez told BoxingScene.com following a press conference Thursday at the Grand Hyatt hotel. “We were talking about that [third] fight [against Golovkin]. And then the pandemic happened, and now we have other goals. But it’s a fight that can happen at any moment.”
The 30-year-old Alvarez’s other goals are adding the IBF and WBO super middleweight titles to his collection if the favored challenger defeats England’s Smith at Alamodome. They’ll fight for Smith’s WBA “super” 168-pound crown and the vacant WBC super middleweight title in a 12-round main event DAZN will stream in 200-plus countries, including the United States and England.
“My short-term goal is to win all the titles at 168 pounds, but it depends what happens,” Alvarez said. “We’ll see what happens. But that’s the goal that [trainer] Eddy [Reynoso] and I have.”
If Alvarez beats Smith and opts to fight for the IBF belt next, he’d have to align with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions for at least one pay-per-view fight, either on FOX or Showtime. Unbeaten Caleb Plant (20-0, 12 KOs) will make an optional defense of that title against former IBF champ Caleb Truax (31-4-2, 19 KOs, 1 NC) in a main event FOX will televise January 30.
If the WBO belt interests Alvarez more, he could remain with DAZN and promoter Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing for at least one more bout and battle Billy Joe Saunders. Hearn promotes England’s Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs), a southpaw who agreed to face Alvarez on May 2 in Las Vegas, before the COVID-19 pandemic scrapped those plans.
Hearn sensed Saunders would’ve wanted the same compensation to fight Alvarez on Saturday night as the pre-pandemic purse he negotiated to square off against Alvarez on May 2. That type of money might not exist for Saunders to box Alvarez in 2021, either, especially if COVID-19 restrictions continue to prevent full crowds from attending events.
Nevertheless, Alvarez loves the freedom he has been afforded since separating from Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and ending his long-term partnership with DAZN last month.
“I believe that the best of my [career] is yet to come in that sense,” Alvarez said, “that I can [work well] with any promoter, with any network, and make these important fights for boxing. … We’ll see what comes. I have a commitment on Saturday, but we’ll see what comes. But as I said, thank God I’m a free agent. I can work with any promoter or any network.”
Alvarez is open to another long-term contract with a promotional partner, network or streaming service, as long he is more comfortable with the terms than he was with his misleading 11-fight, $365 million deal with DAZN.
Golovkin, meanwhile, has less appealing alternatives than Alvarez possesses.
He, too, would make more money for fighting Alvarez a third time than anyone else. If their third fight fails to materialize yet again, the Kazakh knockout artist’s most prominent options, according to Hearn, his co-promoter, are a fight against another Mexican opponent, Jaime Munguia, and a middleweight title unification fight versus Demetrius Andrade (29-0, 18 KOs), the WBO champion.
Golovkin has resisted an Andrade bout since signing a six-fight contract with DAZN in March 2019 because Golovkin wants that third fight versus Alvarez. If Alvarez goes in a different direction, though, a Golovkin-Andrade fight would be easy to make because both boxers work with Hearn and DAZN.
Munguia (36-0, 29 KOs) is co-promoted by Golden Boy, which also has a deal with DAZN.
Hearn has been flying back and forth from South Florida to San Antonio all week to promote the Golovkin-Szeremeta and Alvarez-Smith shows. Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs) will make a mandatory defense of his IBF middleweight title against Poland’s Szeremeta (21-0, 5 KOs) in DAZN’s main event Friday night from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
With just a one-fight deal in place, Hearn is trying to convince Alvarez to continue working with Matchroom Boxing beyond Saturday night.
Hearn told a small group of reporters Thursday night that Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) could return as soon as February, perhaps in Mexico, if he defeats Smith (27-0, 19 KOs). The winner of their fight will be obligated to make a mandatory defense of the WBC belt against Turkey’s Avni Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) within 90 days or he would be stripped of that title.
DAZN apparently is willing to fund an Alvarez-Yildirim fight, as long as Alvarez commits to facing Golovkin next, presumably May 8.
“From DAZN’s perspective, it’s always been [about Canelo-Golovkin III],” Hearn said. “That’s why the problem started. That’s the fight. But I think that if Canelo wins, then he will look at it and say, ‘Well, I’d quite like to get the other belts. So, Billy Joe Saunders.’ I kind of feel like [Canelo and his team will] wanna move quickly to plot the next move. Do you know what I mean?
“And I think it will be Triple-G or Billy Joe Saunders, if they win. And, you know, maybe even an interim fight somewhere in Mexico against Yildirim, because the winner will have to fight Yildirim if they wanna keep the WBC title.”
Seemingly, if Alvarez becomes the first fighter to defeat Smith, it’ll be entirely up to him whether he wants to give Golovkin that third fight or face another opponent.
“Yeah,” Hearn said. “It always is, though, isn’t it?”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.