By Jake Donovan
As Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez returns to the weight where he claimed his first major title, HBO takes a look back at his brief tour as middleweight champion.
One week prior to Alvarez’ challenge of unbeaten super welterweight titlist Liam Smith, HBO will replay his two most recent victories – the historic win over Miguel Cotto to become the first-ever boxer from Mexico to win the lineal middleweight championship; and his rousing 6th round knockout of Amir Khan this past May.
Both bouts will air back-to-back on Friday, September 9 (12:00 am ET/PT) and Saturday, September 10 (9:15 am ET/PT) on HBO2.
The addition to the schedule is the latest update in prefight coverage planned for the September 17 HBO Pay-Per-View telecast, which will air live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Profiles and previews of Smith’s career will be limited by documentary-style specials due to network copyrights, since he has never before appeared on an HBO telecast.
The event marks Alvarez’ third career fight in the Lone Star state. His in-state debut came in his title-unification win over Austin Trout in April ’13, which played to a massive crowd at The Alamodome in San Antonio.
Texas also played host to Alvarez’ return to HBO, scoring a 3rd round knockout of James Kirkland last May. The bout took place in front of 31,000 fans at Minute Maid Park in Houston, with more than 2.1 million views tuning in, HBO’s highest-rated boxing telecast since 2006.
Alvarez’ next two fights were the aforementioned wins over Cotto and Khan. Each came with the condition that he’d have to face World Boxing Council (WBC) mandatory challenger – and unbeaten, unified middleweight titlist – Gennady Golovkin. However, Alvarez and Golden Boy opted to instead make another title run at super welterweight, severing all ties to the middleweight division that included his vacating the crown.
Interestingly, Golovkin fights one week prior to the PPV event in a special Saturday afternoon matinee edition of HBO World Championship Boxing. The unbeaten star from Kazakhstan concedes home country advantage to his opponent, traveling to England to face undefeated welterweight titlist Kell Brook, who moves up two divisions.
There will undoubtedly be some sort of tie-in to Alvarez’ PPV headliner, as the network and the involved promoters will continue to tease the possibility of a head-on collision at some point.