The news hit like a liver punch Thursday.
Posting from his verified social media account, boxing cash cow Saul “Canelo” Alvarez had this to say in a brief video message:
“Done Deal…See You Soon, Sep. 2023…Premier Boxing Champions”
Then, ESPN’s Mike Coppinger posted this via Twitter:
“Canelo Alvarez announced a ‘done deal’ for September along with the PBC logo. Alvarez is set to defend his undisputed super middleweight championship vs. Jermall Charlo, likely on Sept. 16, sources tell ESPN. It’s a three-fight deal for Canelo with PBC, per sources, a coup for Al Haymon in landing boxing’s top star. Other two fights expected to take place in May and September 2024.”
The agreement with Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) is a logical one in retrospect, even though the Mexican star has chosen to do business with promoter Eddie Hearn and streaming service DAZN in nine of his last ten fights.
Right now, PBC has the bigger, better fight options for Alvarez and, realistically, the bigger, broader platform for his career– a career which has lost considerable steam over the course of his time competing on the smaller, harder to navigate DAZN platform.
Without anything being confirmed from any of the parties involved, the prevailing thought is that Alvarez will be facing WBC middleweight champ Jermall Charlo on September 16. Charlo would be moving up in weight to challenge for Alvarez’s four super middleweight world titles after more than a two-year layoff due to injury and personal issues.
After the Charlo fight (assuming he wins and there’s no Charlo rematch), there are several possible PBC options for the unified 168 lb. champ.
The biggest and best fight for Canelo would be against consensus no. 1 super middleweight contender David Benavidez, who is coming off a unanimous decision victory over former Alvarez foe Caleb Plant this past March.
Beyond Charlo and then Benavidez, there are a couple of other options for the Guadalajara native.
Demetrius Andrade has long pursued a shot at Alvarez and got under the Mexican’s skin when he brought that ambition to an Alvarez post-fight press conference. Andrade, a former middleweight and junior middleweight world champ, publicly called out the box office king and drew an uncharacteristically foul-mouthed response from Alvarez.
Also a possibility for Alvarez would be Errol Spence, the 3-belt welterweight champ set for a big-ticket unification clash with Terence Crawford on July 29. Win, lose, or draw against Crawford, Spence will be moving up in weight and has expressed a desire to skip up two weight classes to challenge Alvarez at super middleweight.
Whatever the case, the 32-year-old Alvarez and his team clearly sized up all their options and felt that PBC was the right choice for their future. This ability to pick and choose the best career routes is chief among the major benefits of being a promotional free agent.
The Canelo decision, however, puts DAZN and former promoter ally Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing in a tough spot.
Alvarez has been DAZN’s only consistent major money earner and his loss will be felt by the company that has already seen its market presence shrink considerably.
For Hearn, the loss of Alvarez means that the fighters he was lining up as Canelo opponents will have to find someone else to target. WBA light heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol, who beat Alvarez via unanimous decision in May of 2022 and was awaiting the promised rematch, is now, suddenly, without a bankable opponent this September. Meanwhile, super middleweight contender Edgar Berlanga, who signed with Hearn/Matchroom with the idea of parlaying Hearn’s friendly relationship with Alvarez into a big money Canelo fight, now, also, finds himself a world away from that opportunity.
For fight fans, though, Alvarez’s move is a positive. The superstar moved towards the bigger, better fights…and that’s good for boxing.