Canelo Alvarez’s return to action this Saturday night on DAZN (8:00 pm ET) is the clear alpha fight of the week, as boxing more or less winds down its active scheduled for 2020, but the Mexican superstar may have a little bit more on his mind than just Callum Smith, his opponent for the WBA and WBC super middleweight titles.
The night before, Canelo’s old rival Gennadiy Golovkin will also be in action, also on DAZN (5:00 pm ET), defending the IBF middleweight title against mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta.
The 38-year-old Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KO) figures to win without much trouble. Szeremeta (21-0, 5 KO) does not appear to have the tools to trouble even an aged, somewhat reduced version of GGG, who has had struggles in fights dating back to 2017 against Canelo on two occasions, Daniel Jacobs, and Sergiy Derevyanchenko, but has still rolled over the likes of Vanes Martirosyan and Steve Rolls. You may have heard Israel Adesanya on the Tyson-Jones PPV repeat about 318 times that “there are levels to this shit,” and indeed there are.
Canelo (53-1-2, 36 KO) is also favored in his fight, but not to near the degree Golovkin is. BetMGM currently have GGG listed as a -2500 favorite against Szeremeta, with Canelo at -500 against Smith (27-0, 19 KO).
How to Watch Canelo vs Smith
You can argue the Canelo-Smith matchup any number of ways — some of those arguments see Canelo winning handily against an opponent who should have lost to John Ryder 13 months ago in Liverpool, and some see the 6’3” Smith as a potential style nightmare for the 5’8” Alvarez.
But let’s say Golovkin wins in Hollywood, Fla., on Friday night, and then a little less than 1,400 miles away in San Antonio, Tex., Alvarez also wins.
Does the long-awaited third fight happen next, perhaps on Cinco de Mayo weekend in 2021?
Why the fight hasn’t happened yet
Alvarez, 30, has been wishy-washy about the potential trilogy matchup for the last couple of years and change. After their controversial draw in Sept. 2017, a May 2018 rematch was scrapped when Canelo failed a VADA test for clenbuterol, with the important enough parties eventually accepting his “tainted beef” explanation, allowing for the rematch to be explored again. After tough negotiations where things almost fell apart, they did meet a second time in Sept. 2018, with Canelo winning a controversial majority decision.
There will always be a healthy number of people who believe Golovkin won both fights and had his record sacrificed to the younger, more marketable fighter. When the second fight ended, many of us figured a trilogy bout would naturally follow in May 2019.
But then a massive change came to the American boxing scene in particular. 12 days after the second Canelo-GGG pay-per-view, which was a big success, HBO announced that they would no longer be in the boxing game. The announcement itself was not a huge surprise to those who had been reading the writing on the wall for at least a year prior, but it changed the game.
Canelo signed a record $365 million deal with DAZN, which turned out to be a slight over-estimate of his drawing power — which is substantial, but not that substantial — and is no longer on the books for the fighter or the streaming platform.
After exploring the options and fielding a lot of offers, Golovkin signed a six-fight deal with DAZN in Mar. 2019, which was the logical destination for him, but a deal that was also for too much money and has recently been re-worked. So May 2019 was out of play, sure, but we then figured maybe Sept. 2019.
Didn’t happen. GGG signed with DAZN specifically so he could fight Canelo, and DAZN signed GGG mostly so they could have the rights to Canelo-GGG 3, which would be one of the biggest possible fights in the sport.
How to Watch GGG vs Szeremeta
But Canelo showed no interest; well, he showed enough interest to say repeatedly that he wasn’t interested. After wins over Rocky Fielding and Daniel Jacobs in Canelo’s first two DAZN outings, and GGG making a tune-up debut against Steve Rolls, Alvarez opted to jump up to 175 and fight WBO titlist Sergey Kovalev. Alvarez won, collected another belt, vacated it, has since split with Golden Boy fully and split with DAZN contractually (though obviously the sides are willing to work together still), and now returns against Smith at 168 pounds, looking to gain a legitimate pair of titles in that division.
Golovkin, meanwhile, had a tough fight with Sergiy Derevyanchenko in Oct. 2019, a fight some felt Derevyanchenko deserved to win when all was said and done. But the W put a middleweight belt back around Golovkin’s waist, one of the things Canelo kept saying GGG would need to fight him again.
Why the fight might happen in 2021
Little by little, Alvarez seemed more open to the idea of a third Golovkin fight. GGG’s desire to face Canelo again was never in question, nor DAZN’s desire to pay for it. And even without Canelo officially under contract, there’s really little question DAZN would still pay handsomely for Canelo-GGG 3, provided both are victorious this weekend.
If you’re Golovkin, you want to do it as soon as possible. Gennadiy’s not getting any younger, and frankly speaking, his best chance to beat Canelo has most likely come and gone. That’s not to say a legitimate chance of beating Canelo is totally gone, but the best chance certainly is; that would have been, really, in the first two fights they had. Every fight, every set of months that goes by, Golovkin’s hopes against Canelo dwindle further.
For Canelo, it’s the biggest money fight he’s going to have available if he beats Smith, and by a good bit. Maybe PBC step in with a great offer for Jermall Charlo, but we also don’t think Canelo is looking to boil down to 160 anymore; he just has no reason to, the leverage in the sport is all his as long as he’s winning, and in this situation, he’d have two belts at 168 pounds and be seen as the clear top guy in that class. Could PBC offer him Golovkin-level money to fight Caleb Plant? Probably not, with respect to Caleb Plant.
Golovkin needs to take the shot, if he’s going to get it, as soon as possible. On the Alvarez side, it might seem increasingly like relatively easy big money. He has already done 24 rounds with GGG when Golovkin was at the very least closer to the peak of his performance than he is now. If he was going to get DESTROYED! by Gennadiy, it would have happened then, you figure.
Golovkin also had an ugly trainer split with longtime coach Abel Sanchez after the second Canelo fight, too, and the reviews of his pairing with Johnathon Banks have been mixed. Even apart from the natural physical decline, Golovkin simply might not be the type of fighter he’d need to be against Alvarez any longer. And GGG is almost certainly going to have to move up in weight for it — again, Alvarez holds the bigger leverage, by quite a bit — whether that’s a full 168 or maybe a 165 catchweight or something like that.
Don’t count your chickens and all, but yeah, there’s a good chance we’re seeing a Friday/Saturday double feature to set up the trilogy. The time may be exactly right if you’re the Canelo team, and the time may be desperate enough to take one more swing at the superstar if you’re the Golovkin team.