While the lineup has yet to be officially revealed despite being less than a month from fight night, ESPN’S Salvador Rodriguez has the latest on the supporting cast for Canelo Alvarez’s May 6th title defense against John Ryder. Most noteworthy is the return of WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez, who looks for his fifth title defense against Panama’s Ronal Batista.
Per Rodriguez, mandatory challenger McWilliams Arroyo was unable to make the date, marking the fifth time that matchup failed to materialize. While Rodriguez doesn’t elaborate, I’m guessing Arroyo needs more time to recover from last November’s neck injury, which caused the last cancellation. I can’t say I blame him for not wanting to rush back from that.
Batista (15-2, 9 KO) is ranked by the WBA at 115, but his biggest fight to date saw him outclassed by Mikhail Aloyan in 2019. That said, Martinez looked atrocious in last year’s bouts with Roman Gonzalez and Samuel Carmona, so a step back isn’t unwarranted while Arroyo’s on the mend.
With “Bam” Rodriguez undergoing surgery for a broken jaw, Eddie Hearn has raised the possibility of revisiting a unification with Sunny Edwards. Though that matchup previously flamed out, allegedly because of Martinez’s side, it could be doable now that they’re stablemates.
In other action, former light heavyweight champ Oleksandr Gvozdyk (18-1, 14 KO) continues down the comeback trail against Ricards Bolotniks (19-6-1, 8 KO), who’s been out of action for more than a year after some failed attempts to face Craig Richards. Gvozdyk returned to action for the first time since a 2019 loss to Artur Beterbiev in February, beating Josue Obando by six-round UD.
Equally if not more interesting is a super lightweight bout pitting Gabriel Gollaz Valenzuela (26-3-1, 16 KO) against Stevie Spark (16-2, 14 KO). Valenzuela first made noise with a 2021 upset decision over Robbie Davies Jr, and though he narrowly fell to Montana Love last year, he returned to his script-flipping ways in February by stopping Yves Ulysse Jr in under a minute.
For his part, Spark has won four straight since getting thumped by Tim Tszyu, including a bizarre DQ over the aforementioned Love last November.