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Jermall Charlo would make for fine Canelo opponent, all things considered

Take the belt seriously or not, critique the record all you want, but by boxing’s actual standards, sure, Jermall Charlo would be a good opponent for Canelo Alvarez.

Jermall Charlo v Dennis Hogan Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Canelo Alvarez was supposed to be fighting on Saturday, but obviously is not. The Mexican superstar will fight at some point — he’d like to do it in September, but it might come down to Alvarez accepting a fight with no fans in attendance — but there remains a question of his opposition.

Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KO) seemed set to secure a deal with WBO super middleweight titleholder Billy Joe Saunders before COVID-19 shut the sport down. That never did get officially signed and announced, but it was thought to be the fight on deck, with a trilogy bout against Gennadiy Golovkin in September, which is thought to be fully off the table for the time being.

Now, it’s anyone’s guess. Chris Mannix and Sergio Mora of DAZN discussed another possible opponent: Jermall Charlo, who holds the WBC’s middleweight title, handed to him when Canelo was “elevated” to their made-up “franchise champion” position.

Recently, WBC boss Mauricio Sulaiman said he’d like to see the fight, but didn’t sound optimistic that it would actually happen.

As for whether it’s a good matchup, Mannix and Mora took dramatically opposite stances, as is the general script requirement for these talking head sports shows and segments.

“Charlo is an ideal opponent for Canelo. Number one, he’s undefeated, you know I love that,” Mora began. “He’s a champion, he’s a Houston bad boy; he has that chip on his shoulder, he brings that ‘bad boy’ image. Canelo, he’s a little bit the opposite — quiet, more reserved, does his talking in the ring. That’s a promotional matchmaker’s dream right there. Fans will love it. It’s good versus bad if you want to look at it that way.”

Mora also believes the fight itself sizes up nicely.

“[The styles] are gonna mesh perfectly. They’re both boxer-punchers, they both have explosive power. The speed edges towards Canelo, I would say. He punches in more compact speed. But in distance and length, that power coming from afar, that uppercut that knocked out ‘J-Rock’ Williams — he has a good resume, he has a good look, he has the undefeated record. Absolutely. Champion versus champion, that’s an A-plus fight.”

Chris Mannix disagreed with Mora, of course.

“It’s not even an A fight,” Mannix sighed. “It’s not champion versus champion, because Canelo is the WBC’s franchise champion. It’s the WBC’s fault they are such greedy bloodsuckers that they create multiple championships in that weight class and just hand Charlo a belt that even he would admit he has not won. It’s not champion versus champion.”

Mannix also discounted Charlo’s 2019 wins over Brandon Adams and Dennis Hogan, and questioned whether he’s earned the right to face Canelo at this point.

Mannix then pivoted to his general obsession with a fight between Charlo and WBO titleholder Demetrius Andrade.

“[Charlo] can go out and beat Demetrius Andrade [to earn a fight with Canelo],” Mannix said. “Go beat Demetrius Andrade, win a bona fide middleweight title, call yourself a unified champion, and if you do that, you get the first crack at Canelo Alvarez in 2021. But until then, I don’t wanna hear about Jermall Charlo vs Canelo, I don’t wanna hear about Andrade vs Canelo. I want Andrade vs Charlo in 2020!”

They go on, but that’s the gist.

So what do YOU think? Tell us in the comments section. But here’s what I think!

WBO light heavyweight title bout in Las Vegas: Canelo Alvarez vs Sergey Kovalev Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images

It is bold to suggest Jermall Charlo has not “earned” or does not “deserve” a fight with Canelo right now. I have quoted this line from the 1992 film Unforgiven endlessly over the last 14 years of this site’s existence: “‘Deserve’s’ got nothing to do with it.” If boxing actually worked as some sort of meritocracy, then great, we could clutch our pearls about “earn” and “deserve” all day long, or I guess we wouldn’t need to, because the fights that should happen would just happen.

Boxing does not work this way. It never actually has, either. Loads of fights have been avoided, ducked, whatever you want to call it. Loads that should have happened didn’t for one political reason or another. Many were put on the back burner too damn long and never were what they should have been. And boxing’s history is filled with top stars and champions fighting mismatches against opponents who simply did not belong in the ring with them.

Look, Canelo fought Rocky Fielding all of about 15 months ago. Rocky Fielding is a decent fighter. I am not trying to insult the man. But his best win was against Tyron Zeuge, which earned him a secondary WBA paper belt at 168. Canelo fought him to make his own bogus claim to having won a title in that division, and to cash a big check with DAZN, and to fight at Madison Square Garden for the first time — not necessarily in that order of importance. Fielding was no much for Canelo, who tore through him inside of three rounds, dropping him four times, at least once each round. Canelo was long-established as “The Guy” by that point, this wasn’t some youngster on the rise beating up a veteran to get experience and whatnot.

Are Charlo’s wins over Adams and Hogan what anyone wanted from him last year? No, of course not! Does he have a lackluster sheet at 160? Sure. But he’s got a belt, like it or not, and he’s got some name value. He’s as qualified as anyone else at 160 save for Gennadiy Golovkin.

Furthermore, Canelo might well be done at 160. The fight with Saunders would’ve been at 168, and Canelo’s last fight was at 175. This could all be a totally moot point no matter what.

If Alvarez does fight again at 160, Charlo would be fine. Andrade would be fine. They’re almost certainly not going to fight each other to “earn” a non-guaranteed shot at Canelo, what with Charlo seeming generally disinterested in entertaining that idea. A Canelo payday, however, might be enough to get Charlo to take the shot out from under the PBC blanket.

This fight will either happen or won’t, for any number of reasons. If they announced it tomorrow, that’d be fine by me. If they don’t, whatever. (They won’t.) But, hey, it’s something to talk about.

Sure hope we get some fights actually happening again someday.