By Michael Rosenthal
Sometimes things work out reasonably well in boxing in spite of the chaos. This might be one of those instances.
Canelo Alvarez really should settle his rivalry with Gennadiy Golovkin by facing him a third time. After two controversial decisions – a draw and a close nod for Alvarez – Triple-G deserves one more shot, it’s the middleweight fight the public wants to see most and it would generate the most money.
The problem is that Alvarez seems intent on denying Golvokin the opportunity for whatever reason, at least for now.
That opened the door for a fascinating possible matchup with fearsome 175-pounder titleholder Sergey Kovalev, a significant risk that could’ve given Alvarez a major belt in another division, but negotiations petered out.
That led to talks with Sergiy Derevyanchenko, the mandatory challenger for Alvarez’s IBF title. The sides seemed to be close to a deal only days ago but they couldn’t come to terms by a deadline set by the IBF, which ended negotiations and prompted the sanctioning body to strip Alvarez of its belt.
There was nothing wrong with an Alvarez-Derevyanchenko matchup. The 33-year-old Ukrainian was a 2008 Olympian who gave Daniel Jacobs all he could handle in a split-decision loss for the vacant IBF title (which Alvarez later took from Jacobs) last October. And again, Derevyanchenko was Alvarez’s mandatory challenger.
Who really wanted to see Alvarez-Derevyanchenko, though? I can’t imagine many fans were excited by the prospect.
That leads us to Demetrius Andrade. The WBO middleweight titleholder was asked by a representative of Golden Boy Promotions after the Derevyanchenko fight fell out whether he’d be interested in fighting Alvarez and he answered in the affirmative.
For the sake of everyone involved – including the public – the sides should sit down and negotiate in earnest. If we can’t have Triple-G or Kovalev, this is the fight to make.
Andrade doesn’t have the name recognition of Golovkin or Kovalev but a matchup between him and Alvarez is far more interesting than one with Derevyanchenko. “Boo Boo,” also a 2008 Olympian and a former amateur world champion, has the makings of a star. He has an attractive flair and might be a good enough boxer to emerge as the best 160-pounder on earth.
The only thing missing has been a chance to prove how good he is. He is a two-division titleholder with victories over good opponents – including Vanes Martirosyan, Willie Nelson and Maciej Sulecki – but not the defining victory that could lift him to the next level of public consciousness.
Those who have followed Andrade have waited with him, wondering just how high is ceiling is. We’ll find out if he fights Alvarez.
The fact that fight would unify two titles – WBA and WBO – adds to the appeal of Alvarez-Andrade and it serves the Mexican superstar, who reportedly isn’t happy about the IBF’s decision to strip him. If he fights and beats Andrade, he would, in effect, trade the IBF belt for the WBO version.
Everyone would win. The fans would get a more-intriguing matchup than Alvarez-Derevyanchenko, Andrade would finally get his chance to fight at the highest level and Alvarez could regain a belt in a fight that would add more to his legacy than a hum-drum matchup with his former IBF mandatory.
And it gets better.
As a result of the IBF’s decision to strip Alvarez, Derevyanchenko, ranked No. 1, was directed by the sanctioning body to begin negotiations with the next highest-ranked contender to fill its vacant title. That person is … drum roll please … Gennadiy Golovkin, who was stripped of the same belt last year when he declined to defend against Derevyanchenko in favor of a more lucrative fight with Alvarez.
If both fights – Alvarez-Andrade and Golovkin-Derevyanchenko – can be made, it could be the first round of a wonderful little tournament. The winners could meet in the spring to decide the top 160-pounder, with apologies to the talented Jermall Charlo, whose time will come soon enough.
No, Alvarez-Andrade isn’t perfect. I’d rather see one more showdown with Golovkin (while he’s still 37) in hopes of determining once and for all who is the better fighter. And the prospect of a Alvarez-Kovalev matchup was enticing to me, in part because it was so unusual and bold on Alvarez’s part.
I’d take Alvarez-Andrade for the reasons stated, though. It’s a good, legitimately competitive fight. And it could lead to even better things.
Michael Rosenthal was the 2018 winner of the Boxing Writers Association of America’s Nat Fleischer Award for excellence in boxing journalism. He has covered boxing in Los Angeles and beyond for almost three decades. Follow him at @mrosenthal_box.