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Saul Alvarez: Why are fighters rejecting the opportunity to face Canelo?

Joseph Herron Updated
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It was just reported earlier this afternoon by Dan Rafael of ESPN that Callum Smith turned down an undisclosed offer to defend his Super WBA and WBC 168 pound titles against boxing megastar Saul Canelo Alvarez at the T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 2nd.

This is now the second time a major titleholder has reportedly rejected a "lucrative" offer made by Golden Boy Promotions to fight the biggest name in boxing on DAZN.

In January, Oscar De la Hoya had this to say about Jermall Charlo turning down an offer to face Canelo Alvarez for a proposed fight in May of 2019.

"When you're going to fight Canelo, you deserve more than what you're normally making," Oscar stated to numerous media members at the initial press conference for Garcia vs. Fonseca on January 20th.

"But when you price yourself out, it's really because you don't want to fight him. That's the bottom line."

"When fighters would fight me, I was always the A-side, but fighters who wanted to fight me...they fought me because they wanted to beat me. You're making big money already, but you fight me because you want to beat me at the end of the day."

"We're not seeing that today. We're seeing these fighters price themselves out and it's ridiculous. Fight for the glory and then the money will come."

"A lot of fighters are pricing themselves out and then the train leaves."

Oscar went on to say that he doesn't believe the fighters are the "culprits" who are making these decisions, but their handlers who are ultimately making these career-altering choices for their clients.

When asked whether or not an offer to face Canelo last May was indeed turned down by the current WBC Middleweight champion, Charlo's head trainer Ronnie Shields simply laughed.

"Yeah, it's true...but it was a BS offer," stated the world-class trainer.

"In that situation, Canelo is the only fighter making any money. It was around the same ballpark as the money Jermall made for fighting Denis Hogan. It wasn't a serious offer, so Al (Haymon) didn't even bother negotiating with Canelo's team."

"But it's a fight Jermall would love, and hopefully Al and Oscar can revisit that possibility this year...with serious negotiations and a legitimate offer this time."

The response Eddie Hearn reportedly made about his fighter rejecting Golden Boy's recent offer to fight Canelo in Las Vegas on May 2nd was similar to that of Ronnie Shields.

"We turned down the initial offer but, of course, it's the fight that Callum wants next," Hearn recently told Dan Rafael of ESPN. "If we feel the offer is right, he will jump at the chance."

So much for the "Canelo Sweepstakes".

In years past, fighters would jump at the chance to face the biggest marquee stars of the sport, earning career-high paydays, but not millions more than what they've grown accustomed to making for lesser publicized opportunities.

For his opportunity to face Floyd Mayweather Jr. back in 2013, Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero earned a career-high payday of $3 million dollars. Yes, it paled in comparison to what the overwhelming monetary A-side made on May 4th, which was a guaranteed $32 million. But Guerrero was very happy for the mere opportunity to compete against and possibly defeat Floyd Mayweather Jr.

But that was then, and this is now.

Unfortunately in the current era of inflated purses, big fights are much more difficult to make. There's very little incentive to take on what would largely be regarded as a "risky" match-up, when fighter "A" is already being paid handsomely for fights in which he's heavily favored.

According to ESPN's Dan Rafael, financial "packages" for Canelo's two most recent opponents, Sergey Kovalev and Daniel Jacobs, exceeded $12 million.

What's been left out of that report is what both fighters were guaranteed for their respective "moments in the spotlight", which was a mere fraction of the potential gross amount - $3 million for Kovalev and $2.5 million for Jacobs, with Canelo making a guaranteed $35 million for each fight.

It may seem easy for men like Al Haymon and Eddie Hearn to defend the decision to turn down an opportunity to fight the biggest name in boxing for a career-high payday.

They're obviously taking into consideration the "risk vs. reward" factor.

How will a potential loss affect my client's career long term? Is it more beneficial for my client to steer the course and make millions, fighting lesser opponents while keeping his undefeated record intact?

Fans will not understand. They just want to see the best fighting the best...money be damned!

Coach Shields may be able to brush off Golden Boy's previous offer to fight Canelo and label it as not being "serious", while making the claim that the proposed purse was in the "ballpark" of what Charlo earned for fighting Denis Hogan in December.

But rather than fighting Canelo Alvarez in a packed house while the entire world watched, Haymon thought it would be in his client's best interest to fight Denis Hogan in a half-empty venue while only 300K Showtime subscribers viewed...for similar but less money.

It's impossible for fans to understand, and just as difficult for any journalist to try and defend.

"I don't want to mention any names from my mouth, but we will work with anybody," the Golden Boy stated to Dan Rafael of ESPN. "We will just keep going down the list. But it's an idiotic mistake on their part to turn down a chance to fight Canelo, the biggest star in boxing, and to make the most money."

Make no mistake, Canelo will indeed be viewed as the favorite heading into every match-up that's presented to him. He's not only considered to be the best pound for pound fighter in boxing by many fans and critics, but Alvarez has the potential to be recognized eventually as an all-time great.

In twenty years, will any fans remember that Jermall Charlo knocked out Denis Hogan in Brooklyn, New York, on December 7th, 2019? No.

What people also won't be talking about twenty years from now is the day Jermall Charlo upset Canelo Alvarez at the MGM Grand on May 4th, 2019...because it never happened.

Can you imagine how different Andy Ruiz Jr's life would be right now if he had turned down Anthony Joshua's offer last year?  

You can't win the lottery, if you don't play the lottery.


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