Junior middleweight titlist Canelo Alvarez is on the mend after suffering an avulsion fracture in his right hand during his dominant ninth-round knockout of England’s Liam Smith on Sept. 17 to win the belt at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Alvarez, the Mexican superstar who gave up the middleweight world championship to return to the 154-pound division to challenge Smith, is gearing up for what could be a three-fight 2017, Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez told ESPN.
Gomez said Alvarez’s hand is doing well and that he has returned to training, although he is not yet using the right hand. But that will happen soon, Gomez said, as they figure out whether Alvarez will fight in the first quarter before fighting again in May and then again in September, when Gomez said the plan is still to finalize a deal for him to face unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) in perhaps the biggest fight in boxing.
“Canelo is back in training. He’s keeping himself in shape, but he hasn’t started using the right hand yet because he still has some more physical therapy to do,” Gomez said. “He still needs a couple of more sessions and what we agreed to do is reconvene after that.”
Gomez said Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs), who plans to move up to the middleweight limit of 160 pounds after having his middleweight fights at a catch weight of 155 pounds, probably will be in Los Angeles for the Bernard Hopkins farewell fight that Golden Boy is promoting on Dec. 17 (HBO) at The Forum. During the week, Gomez said he, Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya and Alvarez plan to meet to discuss the plans for 2017.
“By then he’ll be done with those [physical therapy] sessions,” Gomez said. “He’s using his left hand, hitting the bag and running. The only thing he’s not doing is sparring. But he’ll have time to spar once we make a decision. He’s feeling good. His hand is a lot better. But we’re not going to take any chances. Any discomfort once he starts using the right hand and we’re not messing around. If he has any discomfort, we’ll just wait until May.”
However, Gomez said if Alvarez’s hand is good to go, they would plan to make an announcement of his next fight before Christmas.
“We’re looking at mid-February for him to fight, which would give him enough time to also fight again in May,” Gomez said, adding that the possible February fight would be an HBO bout, not an HBO PPV event.
After fighting Smith on HBO PPV, Alvarez was due to return to regular HBO on Dec. 10 but the hand injury knocked him out of the date.
“Hopefully, everything goes well and then we get the Golovkin fight done for September,” Gomez said. “The plan is still to fight Golovkin.”
Besides making plans for Alvarez, Gomez said he is also working on a title defense for junior lightweight titlist Francisco Vargas (23-0-2, 17 KOs), of Mexico, on Jan. 28 on HBO. Vargas has been sidelined since retaining his title in a hellacious draw with former titlist Orlando Salido on June 4 in the leading fight of the year contender. Vargas suffered severe cuts in the fight that required surgery.
“We’re working on Jan. 28, but it’s preliminary,” Gomez said. “HBO is open to it and I’ve been talking to Vargas to see if he can be ready. We should know in the next week or so but I’m moving 100 miles per hour to get something done.”
After fellow 130-pound titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs) retained his title in dominant fashion on Saturday night, when he made previously undefeated Nicholas Walters quit after the seventh round, he called for a unification fight with Vargas.
Gomez said while that would not be the fight for Vargas in January, they are certainly open to a fight with Lomachenko in the fight after that.
“If it’s the right offer and the right deal we’d be open to it. Absolutely,” Gomez said. “Francisco Vargas is willing to fight anyone. Vargas has some pretty good fights in front of him, whether it’s Lomachenko or a rematch with Salido or a rematch with [Takashi] Miura. They would be very good fights and they would sell.”
Vargas knocked out Miura in the ninth round of a dramatic comeback to win the title in November 2015 in what was later named fight of the year.