Callum Smith turned down an offer to fight Canelo Alvarez over money, not because he is unwilling to face the Mexican superstar.
England’s Smith, the WBA super middleweight champion, believes a career-defining fight versus Alvarez is worth more than the undisclosed purse he was offered to battle Alvarez on May 2 in Las Vegas. Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) pointed out during an appearance on the newest episode of Chris Mannix’s Sports Illustrated podcast that Billy Joe Saunders initially declined the same offer Smith turned down.
“I think Golden Boy, as a promotional company, go out and try and secure the biggest names possible,” Smith said. “And they go back to Team Canelo, and they give the green light on which one they want. And I think that’s what it was. They made me an offer, they made Saunders an offer, they made [Ryota] Murata an offer. And I think the final decision lies with [Eddy] Reynoso and Canelo, and I think that’s all it was. I think they preferred the Saunders fight. For whatever reason, I’m not too sure. But me and Billy Joe both received the same offer. And then Billy Joe had the second offer, third offer. I think they got the go-ahead off Reynoso to pursue with Saunders and make that fight complete. So, that’s all I know.”
Golden Boy eventually increased its offer to Saunders, with whom Alvarez’s team came to an agreement for a May 2 bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) and England’s Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) never signed contracts, however, and that card was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alvarez is expected to fight September 12 in Las Vegas. Neither Smith nor Saunders, the WBO super middleweight champ, are under consideration in part because Golden Boy and DAZN would prefer to pay Alvarez’s next opponent less than the reported $8 million package Saunders was to receive for the May 2 bout.
Middleweight contender Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs) and former WBC super middleweight champion Anthony Dirrell (33-2-1, 24 KOs) are among the opponents Golden Boy and Alvarez have considered for his next bout, which will be contested at the super middleweight limit of 168 pounds.
The 30-year-old Smith still hopes to face Alvarez at some point.
“It was a fight that I wanted,” Smith said. “I’d still take it in a heartbeat. He’s a superstar name, and in my opinion, you know, he’s the best middleweight in the world. He steps up to super middleweight, he’s slightly loses certain advantages that he has. But again, I’m in a good division. There’s a lot of other good fights out there for me outside of Canelo Alvarez. So, I’ve just gotta concentrate on me own career. But, you know, it’s nothing to do with me why I didn’t get the fight. I think it was more just preference on their side.”
Liam Smith, Callum’s older brother and one of Alvarez’s previous opponents, thinks Alvarez’s handlers tried to “embarrass” Callum Smith by making it seem that he was unwilling to fight the four-division champion.
“I don’t know about embarrass me, but they made me an offer,” Callum Smith said. “They made Saunders the exact same offer, and we both said no to it. Yet they went to social media, stating Callum Smith turned the Canelo Alvarez [fight] down. He turned down four times what he’s ever earned and stuff like that. Yet they didn’t mention that Saunders turned the exact, same offer down. And Saunders turned even the second offer, which was more money, down. And yet his name wasn’t threw under the bus on social media, and mine was.
“So, I think it was more a case of if you do fight Saunders, people ask to fight me, you can say, ‘Well, we offered it to him. He turned it down.’ Whereas, I think if you knew the details and read in between the lines that you’d know that it wasn’t the case that I didn’t want the fight, that I turned down the exact, same offer Saunders turned down. But, you know, my name was brought to the press, that I was basically ducking the fight and didn’t want the fight, when that wasn’t the case.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.