BACK TO K-9 KIM’S CORNER

By Steve Kim Updated on March 04, 2022

A Pairing that's a Match(room) Made in Heaven

On Wednesday afternoon in San Diego the formal announcement was made that undisputed super middleweight champion, Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, would be taking his talents up to 175 and facing WBA light heavyweight titlist, Dmitry Bivol, on May 7 in Las Vegas.

When it comes to boxing, the world is Canelo's -- and every other fighter is just living in it.

Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Sports

So how did the undefeated, but relatively unknown Bivol land this plum assignment?

He explained in his ever-improving English, "because I like the idea of go to 175 and fight the second best fighter in that division, a champion. For me, it's continuing to make history, and that's a good challenge for me.''

This latest agreement with DAZN is a two-fight that could see him face arch-rival, Gennadiy Golovkin, in September. But that is contingent on Alvarez defeating Bivol, and 'GGG' overcoming Ryoto Murata in early April in Japan.

There is also the possibility of a third fight for Canelo, who's mere activity keeps boxing as relevant as it can be nowadays. But there will always be critics, such as the fighters and their supporters who don't benefit from the Canelo stimulus package. 

But ask yourself this -- shouldn't guys like David Benavidez and Jermall Charlo do a bit more on their own to make a stronger case for themselves,  and perhaps, get this... even create a public demand for Canelo to face them?

That question was posed to Alvarez, who responded, "It's not really my wish, I really don't care. But sometimes everybody, you guys (the media), say so much, 'Hey, you need to fight Canelo, Canelo, Canelo, Canelo,' why don't they fight each other? And I fight the winner of all of them? Simple, right?"

It's hard to deny what he is saying. But some miss the forest through the trees.

"But you guys always asking too much," continued Alvarez, who's role in being boxing's biggest star is to create generational wealth for fighters who's resumes' are thinner than Olive Oyl on a hunger strike. "I know I'm the best fighter, I fight with every single best fighter in the division. I everybody at 168, all the champions. The you still say, 'No, but you need to fight...' why? I don't understand that."

Well, here's the truth of the matter Canelo, in an era when everyone else does so little -- you are counted on to do it for them. 

"But it's OK, right now I can do whatever I want, and I just do the best things, and I fight with the best champions. This time is not that different," said a confident Alvarez. 

Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Sports

The other part of this equation is Eddie Hearn, the head of Matchroom Sports, who is back in business with Alvarez after his short dalliance with PBC.

"We have got a fantastic relationship Saul and I, and Eddy Reynoso," Hearn told SNAC.com. "But it doesn't mean he's just going to sign with us, but if it's close, we'll always get the nod because he loves to work with Matchroom, he loves to work with me, and we presented him the opportunity that ultimately he preferred. It's never about the money with Saul, of course that comes with his greatness. But it's more about the direction, the vision, facing champions.

"It has to excite him, he likes facing champions and taking their belts over."

Bivol will represent the fourth undefeated champion in his last five bouts, yet he will still have his critics, which ''baffles'' Hearn, who pointed out that since 2017 that Alvarez has faced the likes of: Golovkin(twice), Danny Jacobs, Sergey Kovalev, Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders and most recently, Caleb Plant.

For those boxers who are bitter in not landing a fight with boxing's cash cow, well, Alvarez had this blunt message: "I just want to continue making history -- and they have nothing to offer me."

There's a long, tough road to December, but there could be a third fight in the works for Alvarez. Hearn explained that this, "is being worked on at the moment with myself and Eddy Reynoso. He's got a two-fight agreement with DAZN, the third fight with Matchroom is already evolving. They've made it clear they want to fight three times this year, and they will do that."

Should this occur, what you might see is a bout against John Ryder in London, or WBC cruiserweight belt-holder, Ilunga Makabu in Guadalajara, Mexico. 

"Our desire is to box him internationally," said Hearn. "We believe in global stars.''

Should this come to fruition, this will be the second consecutive year that Canelo will perform three times in the ring. Now, this doesn't make him Henry Armstrong, or Archie Moore, but by today's standards, it makes him far and away the most active world champion. (which in reality, is an indictment on the current state of the business).

"Most fighters don't want to actually fight that much," lamented Hearn. "Physically, it's hard to have more than three fights in a year at the championship level when you're having 10-12 week camps. It's quite difficult."

Of course, an argument could be made that you wouldn't need such long drawn out camps if boxers fought more often, but that's another column for another day. But Hearn admitted, "A lot of fighters are not being active enough."

Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Sports

The focus is now on Bivol, who is rated number 2 at light heavyweight by Ring Magazine, behind unified champion, Artur Beterbiev.

"I picked him because he's a very tough fighter, he's a good challenge for me," stated Alvarez. "He's a good challenge for me. That's why I picked this deal because he offered me a champion, and he's a good fighter. I like that kind of challenge."

 

PLANS 

Hearn and Matchroom always have a busy schedule, and I was able to ask him about the current status of the rematch between unified heavyweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua, given the unrest in Usyk's home country of Ukraine.

https://twitter.com/SteveKim323/status/1499142428443361283

Also, what's next for newly crowned WBC super flyweight champion, Jesse 'Bam' Rodriguez, who impressively defeated Carlos Cuadras back in February?

https://twitter.com/SteveKim323/status/1499142428443361283

 

RIP 

Was saddened to hear about the loss of Michael Marley, who had a colorful and distinguished career in boxing. He actually boxed in college, and was the boxing columnist for the New York Post for a dozen years, and then worked for Don King Productions as the VP of communication. He also managed several fighters of note.

Marley was a funny guy, very friendly, and could tell a multitude of great stories about his travels in the sport. 

To me, he was part of a period of time when boxing was much more significant and important, and every major newspaper made sure they had a guy covering this beat. Something he did in his own unique flair. 

Rest in peace.

 

FINAL FLURRIES

Put me on the record now, I like Jose Pedraza to defeat Jose Ramirez(if he can get a fair shake in Fresno, that is).....Showtime Sports will be distributing the April 16 pay-per-view show featuring the welterweight unification tilt between Errol Spence and Yordenis Ugas....Has Zion Williamson basically retired from basketball? He's about as inactive as today's boxers....I've actually begun to enjoy the Axe-less 'Billions' on Showtime...By the way, when does 'Succession' on HBO return?....I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com

 

 

About Author
A Pairing that's a Match(room) Made in Heaven
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for UCNlive.com.
  • Was a boxing reporter for ESPN.com from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.