Many boxing fans were mystified by Golden Boy Promotions decision to match Saul “Canelo” Alvarez against WBO junior middleweight champion Liam “Beefy” Smith (23-1-1, 13 KOs) on September 17 this year rather than matching him against middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin or another top middleweight in the division.
The fans wondered why Golden Boy would match Canelo against unquestionably the most vulnerable of the 154lb champions in 28-year-old Liam Smith rather than putting him in with one of the Charlo brothers, Erislandy Lara, Julian “J-Rock” Williams or Demetrius Andrade. Those fighters are seen as the cream of the crop at junior middleweight.
Smith was viewed by many fans as a paper champion. In other words, a guy that was holding a title with no meaning. However, with Canelo beating Smith to win his WBO 154lb title, and subsequently being installed as the World Boxing Organization’s new No.1 mandatory challenger for WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders, it appears that Golden Boy was thinking far ahead when they made the decision to match Canelo against Smith.
They must have known that they would be able to get Canelo the mandatory spot for Saunders simply by him winning the WBO 154lb title. As the WBO junior middleweight belt holder, it gave Canelo an inside track to being installed as the No.1 mandatory challenger to Saunders without having to fight his way into that position.
The WBO recently ordered Saunders to fight consecutive mandatory challengers, a move done in response to him waiting 12 months to finally defend his WBO 160lb belt after winning it in December 2015. If not for the WBO installing Canelo as their mandatory challenger, he would have had to wait until Saunders got past his two mandatory challengers before he got a shot at his WBO title. That might have taken Saunders another year or two to get those fights out of the way with his track record.
Once Saunders is soundly beaten, Canelo will have the WBO middleweight to use as bait to get Golovkin to agree to the fight against him for less money than he would otherwise be able to get if he were the only champion. Canelo will have a title to justify him getting a MUCH bigger share of the revenue.
When Canelo signed with HBO Boxing, it was said that at least one fight per year for him would be televised on regular HBO, not PPV. In 2016, both of Canelo’s fights were on HBO PPV. In 2017, Canelo’s next fight in May is going to be on HBO PPV. If Canelo fights Golovkin or Cotto in September, that too will be on HBO PPV.
Even if Cotto fights Cotto in December, which is the plan right now, that fight is definitely going to be on HBO PPV. It looks like Canelo or HBO has scraped the idea of him fighting on regular HBO once a year. That’s a bad for the boxing fans, because they’re stuck paying to see Canelo fight guys like Amir Khan, Liam Smith, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. or Billy Joe Saunders.