Fans awaiting the highly anticipated showdown between Canelo Álvarez and Gennady Golovkin will have to wait a bit longer. Last Monday, the WBC came to agreement that both fighters would be allowed to take an interim bout to face mandatory challengers of each of their respective organizations before facing off against one another later in the year. This pushes the bout to the fall of 2016 at the earliest.
Per the WBC website, the official announcement reads:
Both Alvarez and Golovkin shall be entitled to make a voluntary defense of their corresponding championships, so as to maximize the interest on their highly anticipated showdown. A 15-day free negotiation period will be ordered on the completion of the earlier of the voluntary defenses or May 31, 2016. If there is no agreement, a purse bid will be conducted under the WBC rules and regulations. If after their corresponding voluntary defenses one boxer is unable to fight the other for the undisputed WBC Middleweight Championship of the world, the unable fighter will lose his status as champion or interim champion. The fighter able to fight will be named undisputed WBC World Champion.
For Golovkin, who is the IBF, WBA and interim WBC champion, the list of potential contenders is a long one. There’s Andy Lee, who holds the WBO strap and will put it on the line against Billy Joe Saunders this Saturday. Danny Jacobs, who just came off a spectacular one round KO victory over Peter Quillin two weekends ago, is also another name being thrown in the mix. As the WBA “World” champion, Jacobs is also the only boxer in history to have won a major title after successfully recovering from a bout of cancer. A showdown between the two would certainly make an interesting one.
Then of course there is the up-and-coming IBF mandatory Tureano Johnson, who gave an impressive showing against Eamonn O’Kane on the undercard of Golovkin-Lemieux back in October. Johnson, who boasts an impressive 19-1 (13KO) record, has been one of the only fighters to have publicly stated a willingness to face Golovkin. In an interview with Ring Magazine, Johnson spoke with no fear for the sport’s “most feared” fighter, and showed a beaming confidence in his abilities to dethrone the king.
“I believe out of all the fighters that Golovkin has faced, they have quit too early. I’m one who’s not going to quit,” Johnson said to RingTV.com. “I believe in fearing nobody. I think without a shadow of a doubt that I can beat this guy.”
In terms of probability, a bout with Johnson appears the most likely. Lee will still have to get pass Saunders in order to be an eligible candidate, and Jacobs is promoted by Al Haymon, whose fighters are currently having difficulty in landing fights with any other boxer not promoted under the Al Haymon banner. Johnson, who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions (the same promoter as Álvarez) will have seemingly much less hurdles to overcome since Golovkin’s camp is already in negotiations for the super-fight sometime next year. Either way, any one of those names would make a great stand-in for the fight that fans truly want to see.
As for Álvarez, his list of potential contenders is comparatively short, especially since he only has one list of mandatories to worry about. Golden Boy exec Eric Gomez went on record stating that any of the top 6 fighters listed on the WBC current rankings were game competition. This includes Sebastian Heiland, Arif Magomedov, Michel Soro, Ryoto Murata, and Chris Eubank Jr., none of which are imminent threats to defeating Canelo.
“Every and all of them we will consider,” Gomez said. “We will take our time, go through the list with due diligence.”
Though the announcement comes as a disappointment to most fight fans, there is perhaps a slight upside to all of this. Because it is a WBC mandatory rule, Álvarez’s interim bout will supposedly take place at the full middleweight limit of 160lbs, which would make any suggestion of a catchweight against Golovkin more improbable. As most fans will recall, the bout in which Álvarez won the belt from Miguel Cotto took place at 155lbs, only one pound over the division below and by all standards of the sport, makes absolutely no sense. Add to the fact that Álvarez commonly blows up to weights near light-heavyweight the night of the fight, and a 155lb catchweight clause against Golovkin makes even less sense. Though Golovkin has expressed a willingness to drop down to 154lb to face then pound-for-pound champion Floyd Mayweather, it would be a shame to see Golovkin come into the ring at a handicap, and unless Álvarez can guarantee the same type of paycheck a Mayweather fight would, then setting a catchweight stipulation seems even less likely.
Let’s hope that things go as planned in the first quarter of 2016 (though in boxing, it likely won’t), and that another hurdle won’t arise to getting these two together in the ring. It’s bad enough that the politics of sanctioning bodies and mandatory defenses has held the fight up this long, and would be a shame if money and titles belts prevented the fight from happening at all.
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