Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is reportedly in discussions with WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren for a fight between Arum’s fighter #3 WBO Ryota Murata (12-0, 9 KOs) and Saunders (24-0, 12 KOs) if the British fighter doesn’t face the red-headed Mexican star Saul Canelo Alvarez next May on HBO PPV.
Canelo’s management is in negotiations with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr’s manager Al Haymon for a fight in May. However, the negotiations are reportedly stalled after Chavez Jr. complained to the media that Canelo wants 5 times the purse that he’s getting for the fight. Chavez Jr. doesn’t see that as fair. He’s agreed to fight at a catchweight of 165lbs to accommodate Canelo, and he’s also agreed to let him have the bigger purse. However, he apparently is not going to let him take five times the purse he’s getting.
“We’re talking about the fight if Saunders doesn’t fight Canelo [Alvarez] in May,” Arum said to ESPN.com about him being in discussions with Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren for a Saunders-Murata fight.
There’s no time frame for when Arum wants the Saunders vs. Murata fight to take place. It would obviously be taking place in the first half of 2017, barring any unforeseeable injury on Saunders or Murata’s part. Saunders has been the one with injury problems, as he was twice injured in 2016 while getting ready for his maiden title defense. Saunders eventually defended his WBO title last December in beating Artur Akavov by a 12 round decision. It was a tough fight for Saunders, but he won it at least.
Saunders wants to fight Canelo, who recently was installed as the No.1 challenger for him. It was assumed that Canelo would take the fight with Saunders after Golden Boy made a request to the World Boxing Organization to have Canelo positioned as Saunders’ No.1 challenger. The WBO granted the request, but almost immediately, Golden Boy started negotiations with Chavez Jr. for a fight between him and Canelo. Golden Boy and Canelo are like kids in a candy store. They have so many options for fights. It’s pretty unreal, but also sad because it gives Canelo ways to avoid fighting the best fighters like Gennady Golovkin and all the top fighters at 154 that he never fought.
Murata won a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics for Japan. He’s looked good in his 12 fights since turning pro. Arum is his co-promoter, so he should open doors for him. Whether Murata has the talent to take advantage of those situations is another thing.