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Canelo Alvarez vacates WBC middleweight title, negotiations with GGG continue

Canelo Alvarez is vacating the WBC middleweight title, but he says that he's still instructed his team to make the fight with Gennady Golovkin.

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Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Canelo Alvarez has decided to vacate the WBC middleweight title, which throws a potential September fight with Gennady Golovkin into serious doubt, though the 25-year-old says he still plans to fight and beat Golovkin.

"After much consideration, today, I instructed my team at Golden Boy Promotions to continue negotiating a fight with Gennady ‘GGG' Golovkin and to finalize a deal as quickly as possible," Alvarez said via press release.

"I also informed the WBC that I will vacate its title. For the entirety of my career, I have taken the fights that no one wanted because I fear no man. Never has that been more true than today. I will fight ‘GGG,' and I will beat ‘GGG' but I will not be forced into the ring by artificial deadlines. I am hopeful that by putting aside this ticking clock, the two teams can now negotiate this fight, and ‘GGG' and I can get in the ring as soon as possible and give the fans the fight they want to see."

This all sounds good taken at face value, but boxing talk should almost never be taken at face value, at least if you don't want to get upset every five to 10 minutes. Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KO) and Golovkin (35-0, 32 KO) had a deadline that stretched until May 24 to come to terms.

"There is no denying that Canelo is the biggest star in the sport of boxing. He is eager to get in the ring with ‘GGG' to show the world that he is also the best pound for pound fighter in the sport, but we won't negotiate under a forced deadline," said Canelo's promoter, Oscar De La Hoya. "Now that the WBC title is off the table, I am hopeful that ‘GGG' and his promoter K2 Promotions will come to the table in good faith and get this deal done."

A few things:

  • A POTENTIAL POSITIVE: Let's start on a not-so-skeptical note. Maybe this is just their way of chilling out for a couple more weeks and getting the fight done. The WBC could theoretically just give Golovkin the belt, he's been interim champion since 2014 and defended that belt four times along with his WBA belt and the IBF belt he picked up last October. In that case, the WBC belt would still be part of a fight between Golovkin and Alvarez.
  • This deadline existed because all parties involved came to a contractual agreement last year that Golovkin was the mandatory WBC challenger, and Alvarez had to defend against him within a certain time frame. They were each allowed interim bouts. They had those interim bouts. The complains about a "forced deadline" don't seem quite so earnest when you remember that Canelo and Golden Boy signed up for a forced deadline.
  • Golovkin wants the belt. He's made that very clear. He wants to unify all four middleweight titles. His trainer, Abel Sanchez, has even said that if Canelo didn't want to fight them at 160 pounds for the belt, they'd gladly take the title another way.
  • Sanchez also repeatedly stated that the contract everyone signed with the WBC stated that the fight would be a middleweight title bout, full 160-pound limit, no catchweights. That's not to say there couldn't be a catchweight, but GGG's side isn't interested in one, and with the deal as it is, Canelo and Golden Boy were not likely to get any catchweight, be it 155 or 159¾.
  • If this is a way for Alvarez to avoid fighting at a full 160 against Golovkin (which he's said he has no problem doing, but he wasn't speaking for his team), then it's a potential fight-killer.
  • There's a lot being said here that plants little seeds. Oscar saying he hopes K2 will "come to the table in good faith and get this deal done" is his way of setting up blame on K2 if the fight does not get done, for whatever reason. This is a delicate situation from a PR standpoint right now. This won't look good if the fight doesn't get made. And if Team Canelo, now without the belt, demand a catchweight, and Golovkin doesn't take one, then they'll probably lean hard on, "well, he said he'd lose weight to fight Mayweather, but he refused to be reasonable here," or whatever goofy boxing fans are still hanging on to this week.

How are you seeing this move by Alvarez? Does it lower the chances of the fight happening this year? Would you be fine waiting until next May for them to do this thing?

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