By Sean Jones: Saul Canelo Alvarez got lucky to get past Gennady Golovkin with a ‘W’ in their rematch last September to win his WBA and WBC middleweight titles, and he’s now circumvented what would be in inevitable title defense that would be forced on him against his WBC mandatory challenger Jermall Charlo by moving up to 168 to challenge WBA ‘regular’ super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding on December 15.
The boxing world wants to know if Canelo (50-1-2, 34 KOs) will ever return to the 160 pound division to face Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs), and to fight GGG in a trilogy fight and take on the likes of Demetrius Andrade, Daniel Jacobs and Sergiy Derevyanchenko. The WBC seemingly are trying to give Canelo a reason to keep their middleweight title by order Golovkin to face his mandatory challenger Charlo, but that doesn’t appear to have worked due to GGG showing no interest in doing the Mexican star’s heavy labor. As such, we’re likely going to see Canelo vacate his WBC and WBA middleweight titles and remain at super middleweight, where the waters are safer because there are no fighters named Jermall Charlo or Gennady Golovkin at 168.
In terms of predicting what Canelo will do with his WBC 160 lb title, coming events cast their shadows before. Canelo vacated his WBC title in the past two years ago when a very real threat was in front of him against a younger 34-year-old Golovkin, who he seemingly wanted no part of. After beating the tiny 5’7” Miguel Cotto in a much criticized catchweight fight at 155 pounds to win the WBC middleweight title in November 2015, Canelo took an ultra soft defense against welterweight Amir Khan in May 2016 in what was supposed to be a tune-up to get ready for a fight against WBC mandatory Golovkin. However, when it came time for Canelo to defend the WBC belt against GGG, he vacated the belt and moved down to face WBO paper champion Liam Smith. It’s as if Canelo couldn’t get rid of the WBC middleweight title fast enough in order not to have to face GGG, who was tearing his opposition apart. This was when GGG was still looking great, and before he had struggled and seemingly been exposed against Daniel Jacobs in 2017.
Jermall Charlo is in limbo right now. He’s not going to get a title shot against Canelo anytime soon if ever, and he might not get a fight against Golovkin either. Although the WBC has ordered Charlo to defend his interim WBC middleweight title against Golovkin, that fight has little hope to take place. And with Canelo moving up to super middleweight to challenge the weak link among the 168 lb champions in Fielding (27-1, 15 KO), there’s no telling whether the Mexican star will come back down to 160 to defend his WBA and WBC titles. If Golovkin tells the WBC to get lost about him facing Charlo for the right to face Canelo in a trilogy fight, then it’s going to put the WBC in a situation where they’re going to need to do their job and order Canelo to defend against Charlo. The WBC are going to look like they’re enabling Canelo’s cherry-picking if they pick out another contender in the WBC’s top 15 rankings to face Charlo ni what would amount to be a second WBC title eliminator. Charlo has already earned his mandatory status to fight for the WBC middleweight title by beating Jorge Sebastian Heiland last year in July, and he’s been waiting ever since. If Golovkin isn’t going to face Charlo with the winner earning a fight against Canelo, then the WBC is going to need to order the Canelo-Charlo fight at some point if the belt doesn’t get vacated by the red-headed Mexican star. It would be a public relations disaster on the WBC’s part if they forced Charlo to defend his interim WBC middleweight title against another contender just so that he can earn a title shot that he’s ALREADY earned against Canelo.
Canelo’s decision to do an end run around his WBC mandatory Charlo comes as no surprise to boxing fans, because they never expected him to take that hard work. Charlo, 6’0”, would be a tough cookie for Canelo to face after the punishment he took in the second GGG fight on September 15. Canelo wore down in that fight and was exhausted in the second half of the fight, which is when Golovkin took over completely just as he had in the first fight.
Canelo had only come to the fight with enough energy for six hard rounds. After that, he was fighting on fumes. What surprised the boxing fans is that Canelo didn’t take a soft defense of his WBA/WBC middleweight titles against fellow Golden Boy Promotions fighter David Lemieux. That’s what the fans thought Canelo would do. In social media, Canelo’s decision to veer around the hard-hitting Lemieux has been seen as him not wanting to face another hard puncher after all the punishment he absorbed against Golovkin in fight #2. Canelo’s legs didn’t look capable of moving him around the ring in the second fight with Golovkin, and it could be that he’s starting to slow down. Canelo without the ability to move away from a power puncher like Lemieux would have left him at the mercy of the Canadian. Canelo would have had to beat Lemieux at his own game by slugging with him. Perhaps it would have worked out well for Canelo, but maybe it wouldn’t have. Either way, it would have been an extremely difficult fight for the Mexican star, and he might not have won. So what does he do? Canelo decides to face a non-puncher at super middleweight in Rocky Fielding, a fighter who was knocked out in the 1st round by Callum Smith three years ago. Canelo found an easy mark for him to win a third division world title against in Fielding.
It was already rumored that Canelo would move up to super middleweight even before he announced it, because once Fielding won the WBA ‘regular’ belt at 168, it made for an easy opportunity for Canelo to move up in weight to take his title to win a third division belt. It was a situation where there was a vulnerable fighter holding a world title belt at super middleweight, and Canelo and his promoters at Golden Boy Promotions decided to take advantage of it. If you see it as a predatory situation, it makes sense. They spotted a flawed fighter that arguably has no business holding a world title at 168, and Canelo plans on taking advantage of that by facing him to take his title. The stronger champions at 168, Jose Uzcategui, Callum Smith and Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez, are safe from the likes of Canelo, because those guys would have a very real chance of beating him up and sending him fleeing back down to 160.
It obviously would look better if Canelo would move up to super middleweight and face the likes of Benavidez, Ucategui, Smith or Ramirez, but those guys are not someone that he can beat with a high degree of certainly. More importantly, those are fighters that might take the judges out of the equation, meaning that Canelo might not get lucky with the judging if he were to face one of them in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is his favorite city to fight in.
Canelo needs a win that isn’t controversial at this point, because the boxing world thinks he was gifted decisions in his last two fights against Golovkin. There was nothing impressive in Canelo’s last two fights against Golovkin. Both fights saw Canelo gas out after the first half of the fight, and wind up with favorable scoring from the judges in the second half, which is when he gassed out. The general belief is Canelo received decisions he didn’t deserve.
With Canelo following the business model of Floyd Mayweather Jr. in facing guys that give him an advantage, it was never expected that he fight someone good on December 15 after the punishment that he took against GGG. It’s been Canelo’s pattern. He’ll take a tough fight, and then follow it up with a soft job to get him a world title, but it’s always against a weaker champion and not against the best. We saw that in Canelo’s fights against WBO 154 lb champion Liam Smith in 2016, and WBC middleweight champion Miguel Cotto in 2015. Canelo never fought for a world title at 147, because he outgrew the division before he could face a champion. In Canelo moving up to fight the perceived weakest of the super middleweight champions in 31-year-old Rocky Fielding, he’s keeping up with his habit to fight the weakest. Golovkin was obviously an exception for Canelo, but even then, it took him three years before he finally fought him when he was 36, and the fights took place in Las Vegas, where the results of both fights ended up being deeply controversial.
Canelo hasn’t vacated his WBA/WBC middleweight title yet, but you can expect him to shed the WBC belt if the sanctioning body makes a peep about him defending it against Jermall Charlo when/if he returns to the middleweight division. Canelo will likely give up the WBC title for general purpose because even if the WBC doesn’t lean on him to defend against Charlo, the boxing public will start to figure out that he’s avoiding the Texas fighter Charlo. Canelo can’t afford to be viewed as a ducker by the fans, because it would be disastrous for his popularity. For that reason, Canelo’s decision move up to 168 will give him an excuse to shed his WBC title to keep the boxing public from starting to ratchet up the pressure to defend against Jermall. Canelo has his win over Golovkin, and it doesn’t matter that the fans largely see it as another robbery. Enough casual fans didn’t see the fight and will be satisfied to know that he won the fight over Golovkin.
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya says it’s up to Canelo to decide whether he wants to face GGG for a third fight. Golden Boy president Eric Gomez would like to make a rematch against Floyd Mayweather Jr. However, at this point in the 41-year-year-old Mayweather’s career, it’s highly improbable that he’ll take Gomez up on his offer to face Canelo in a rematch.
”We would love to do a rematch,” Gomez said to ESPN Deportes about a Canelo vs. Mayweather 2 rematch. ”If Floyd wants a rematch with Canelo, no problem.”
If Mayweather was still active with his boxing career, badly in need of money and relatively young, he’d probably take Gomez up on his offer to fight Canelo again, but he’s none of those things. Mayweather has a better option to fight a rematch against Manny Pacquiao, who is smaller than him at 5’6 ½”, and has the perfect wide open fighting style that he does well against. Canelo, on the other hand, is huge and likely would outweigh Mayweather by 20+ pounds on fight night. That’s too much weight for Mayweather to be giving away at his age and activity level. I don’t think Mayweather wants any part of Canelo. Mayweather can make easy money fighting a rematch against Pacquiao or Conor McGregor, and make good money against either.