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Kamaru Usman still believes he can beat Canelo Alvarez, thinks they need each other for biggest payday

Kamaru Usman is still gunning for a crack at Canelo Alvarez in a boxing ring this year.

Kamaru Usman still wants to box Canelo Alvarez, and believes he can beat him
Kamaru Usman still wants to box Canelo Alvarez, and believes he can beat him
Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images and Al Bello/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

UFC welterweight (170 lbs) champion Kamaru Usman is still hoping to land a big crossover boxing bout with Canelo Alvarez, and has his sights set on a September date with the superstar.

Of course, we know that Canelo will be facing Dmitry Bivol in a DAZN PPV main event on May 7, and is tentatively set to face Gennadiy Golovkin for a third time in September, also on DAZN PPV, provided Golovkin beats Ryota Murata when they finally meet in April. But Usman, who says he’ll return for UFC in July, is still talking about the Canelo idea anyway.

“Boxing is dead. Boxing is dead, at the end of the day,” said Usman in an interview with TMZ, repeating the same thing UFC fighters and office workers have been saying for 20 years, even though boxing continues to exist.

“I’m not saying there’s not good boxers, there’s some fantastic boxers. Errol Spence Jr, there’s a ton of guys that I could go down and really tell you that are fantastic fighters.

“But boxing is dying,” he continued, moving the goal post from dead to dying as he may have realized he’s the one chasing the fight here. “At the end of the day, everybody wants to be entertained, and when have you ever seen pound-for-pound against the pound-for-pound? I’m not afraid to do that.

“But unfortunately those guys, i.e. Canelo, will never come over here (to UFC) to challenge. That’s beside the point. Listen, he can overlook all he wants to overlook, but he’s fighting guys over there that nobody knows. And he’s going around saying, ‘Payday, payday,’ absolutely, it’s the biggest payday you are ever gonna make. I understand he gets paid, he makes money, but this is — fighting me is the biggest payday he’s ever gonna have.”

Usman believes both could make “nine figures for sure” on the bout.

“2022, I’m going to shock the world. In July, I’m going to fight Leon Edwards,” Usman noted, naming the mega superstar he’ll face next, a household name. “God willing, I get through Leon Edwards, [then in] September, Mexican Independence Day, I will stop Canelo Alvarez.”

Usman stressed that he wouldn’t fight Canelo just for a payday, and that he truly believes he can win.

“Absolutely I see myself winning that fight. Absolutely. That’s the thing people fail to realize, is a lot of people because they think they can’t do something, they try to put that upon you. ‘Oh you can’t do that, it can’t be done, it can’t be done.’ Everything ‘can’t be done’ until it’s done.

“A lot of people are going to say that: ‘You can’t do it, he’s too skilled, he’s too strong.’ Yeah, they said that about (my fight with) Tyron Woodley. ‘He’s too big, he’s got knockout power, he’s fast, he’s explosive.’ What happened? I told him I was gonna dominate him for five rounds and I did that. ‘Oh, Colby (Covington) is gonna be this guy,’ I did that. ‘Oh, Masvidal’s gonna do this,’ I did that. I have no shortage of confidence in myself. I’m not gonna step in there unless I think I can get it done.”

“He knows what’s up,” Usman said as a direct message for Canelo. “You’re going through this mess of trying to pick up guys nobody really knows. You say ‘payday,’ I agree with you, my friend. Payday! For you and for me. You need me, I need you. So payday.”

To look at this seriously and without picking at questionable statements meant to rile people up one way or the other, let me say a few things:

  1. I don’t think this happens, certainly not in September.
  2. Usman is a marvelous fighter with a record in UFC that speaks for itself.
  3. I agree with him that Canelo vs Usman is a bigger money/attention fight than anything either of them can do otherwise. You might not like that, but Canelo-Usman is a bigger event than Canelo-GGG 3 in 2022, or, I don’t know, whatever Usman can do in UFC. Event-wise, Canelo-Usman would be massive, because it’s different and will seem compelling to the most sought-after demographic there is: People who don’t really watch any of this shit — “casual fans” at best — unless it’s something unusual that catches their attention.
  4. It is absolutely about the money. I am willing to believe Usman’s confidence is genuine, but also that it will prove fruitless. Canelo Alvarez is arguably the best boxer on the planet and Kamaru Usman is not a professional boxer. I would not give Usman any better of a shot to win than I would give Canelo going to MMA to face Usman, where Usman is arguably the best fighter on the planet and Canelo is not an MMA fighter. As Dana White said with a chuckle about this idea last November, right after Canelo beat Caleb Plant, “You don’t wanna fight Canelo. Come on, man, let’s stop this shit.”

But if it happens, obviously I’ll be here, psyched out of my gourd, dressed up like Homer Simpson in the XFL gear but instead of “XFL” it just says “boxing” or whatever. I’m only funnin’! I’m unbiased and indifferent to outcomes. May the best man win in this fantasy.

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