Canelo vs Kirkland Likely Again For 9/15, Mandatory Title Defense

Erislandy Lara, James Kirkland, and Vanes Martirosyan all want to face Canelo Alvarez, but it appears Kirkland will get the September 15 fight. (Photos by Craig Bennett/Showtime and Scott Heavey/Al Bello/Getty Images)

Because of Paul Williams' tragic motorcycle accident earlier this week, Canelo Alvarez needs an opponent for his September 15 pay-per-view event from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and it looks like James Kirkland will be getting the call.

Kirkland, you'll recall, was the first named potential opponent for Alvarez in September, and stated clearly he was ready to take the fight and beat Canelo. But his team made a smart choice by not throwing him in with Alvarez right off, and instead targeted a return in October against a weaker opponent, not because of a lack of confidence against Canelo as much as wanting to make sure that Kirkland's recently surgically-repaired shoulder would hold up in the ring.

The Williams story, of course, is not something anyone prepares for. Golden Boy has that date set aside, the venue's booked, an undercard fight (Jhonny Gonzalez vs Daniel Ponce De Leon) is already good to go, and they need an opponent. Three names were supposedly being considered. Kirkland appears to have won the race, and perhaps that's due to a little help from the WBC.

GBP obviously has no reservations about putting Alvarez in with Kirkland, particularly a Kirkland who may or may not be 100% by then. The WBC has sweetened that pot by making Kirkland the mandatory challenger to Alvarez's 154-pound title.

This may seem like nothing terribly bad at first, but it's a little odd. With Kirkland sidelined, the WBC recently tried to make an eliminator fight between Erislandy Lara and Vanes Martirosyan. Martirosyan turned it down, citing how much he's earned with his wins over Troy Lowry and Richard Gutierrez (which if the world were fair, he'd sadly be "right" about).

But now Martirosyan is upset about being passed over, even though he basically gave the WBC a good reason to do so, and Lara (well, Lara's interview press release mouthpiece) is pissed off as usual about being passed over. If you're Golden Boy, and you've got Canelo, the cash cow; Kirkland, the one-dimensional slugger with an iffy chin; and Lara, the former amateur standout who has taken his game to a new level in his last two fights... well, what are you going to do with Canelo? Give him arguably the most dangerous fight out there for him at 154, or give him James Kirkland?

I mean, no offense to James Kirkland, but I think basically all of us can agree that Lara is a trickier style matchup for Canelo than is Kirkland.

The WBC's ruling allows Canelo to knock out the burden of a mandatory challenger for a good while longer, while appointing the guy his promoter would prefer to have in this fight, rather than Lara (who is more dangerous) or Martirosyan (who would probably find a way to be insulted by the offer and not take the fight, anyway, and also works for Top Rank, so the money has to be shared).

Which of the three fights would you have most preferred seeing? The Chosen One, The Dangerous One, or The Other One?

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