Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez has stated his intention to return to the ring in September. After having his May 2 date scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic, the question is who Alvarez would face in his 2020 debut.
Canelo and Gennadiy Golovkin had agreed to a trilogy fight in the fall, following one more fight for each of them in the interim. But with the wave of fight cancellations and the uncertainty of the future, is the fall still a possibility for Canelo-GGG 3?
"That's one of the fights we want, that's what the fans want. ... The first two fights were very good fights," said Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions, who handles the career of Alvarez.
"Right now, there's a lot of uncertainty because we're still locked down, we don't know what's happening," admitted Gomez. "But we'll cross that bridge when we get there."
GGG and Canelo squared off in September 2017 and September 2018; the first fight ended in a controversial draw with many scoring the fight for Golovkin, while the second was a majority decision for Canelo.
"Gennadiy is currently focused on limited training at home while self-quarantined with his family," Fred Sternburg, the publicist for Golovkin, told ESPN. "He will be happy to address his next fight when boxing receives approval to return."
Much of this decision will be made in concert with DAZN, which signed both boxers to lucrative long-term deals with a trilogy fight as one of their primary goals. The streaming platform will likely want to showcase the biggest events possible as live boxing returns in order to fortify their subscription base.
Golovkin and his representatives believed that they were in line to face Alvarez last September, but Alvarez balked at such a prospect. While Golovkin signed with DAZN believing he would get that fight, Alvarez believed his deal never specified he had to take that third fight -- leading to contention between Canelo and his promoter, Golden Boy.
DAZN declined to comment for this story.
According to GGG's trainer Johnathon Banks, before the pandemic, Golovkin was in line to face Alvarez after a scheduled title defense against IBF mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta. The Szeremeta matchup was initially scheduled for February until GGG suffered a calf injury, and a rescheduled date was not finalized prior to the sport's standstill.
In addition to potential contractual obligations, all fighters need to return to fighting shape. Should the third chapter of Alvarez-Golovkin take place in September, for example, it would be an 11-month layoff for Golovkin.
"The inactivity concerns me," admitted Banks "You want to step up your game before you go to the number one or number two guy in the business, you want to make sure everything is good to go, you want to get a tune-up fight and stuff like that. But don't get me wrong, I don't question Gennadiy's will to win. So I'm not saying he can't win, if he goes straight into it. But I would prefer him to have a fight before Canelo."
Alvarez was slated to face WBO super middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders in Las Vegas in May, before that fight was canceled.
"There was no contract signed, but we've agreed to terms with Golden Boy and DAZN for that fight," Eddie Hearn, who promotes both Saunders and Golovkin, told ESPN. "But the bigger problem is the Golovkin fight -- if that fight's going to be in September, he'll be out for nearly a year after a really tough fight with Derevyanchenko. He's also got a contract with Szeremeta to fight his mandatory."
Saunders, whose boxing license was suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control over a controversial video he posted to social media, is absolutely willing to face Alvarez next, according to Hearn. And for him, it would be part of a viable solution for everyone involved.
"It kind of feels like in an ideal world, we'd like Golovkin to face Szeremeta, Canelo to fight Billy Joe, those fights to be August, September, then the winners fight in December," Hearn laid out. "That would be a great little schedule to come back with."