Canelo Alvarez, boxing’s top star, is planning his second fight of 2023 and two leading candidates have emerged: Jermall Charlo and Badou Jack.
Alvarez, the undisputed super middleweight champion, and his trainer/manager, Eddy Reynoso, met with PBC founder Al Haymon last week in the Cleveland area, where a fall fight with WBC middleweight titleholder Jermall Charlo was discussed, sources said.
Charlo, 33, hasn’t competed since June 2021, when he scored a unanimous decision victory over Juan Macias Montiel. WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said last month that Charlo’s inactivity is due to mental health. Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs) is a former 154-pound titleholder who has never competed above 160 pounds. His twin brother, Jermell Charlo, is the undisputed junior middleweight champion. Both Charlos are advised by Haymon.
Alvarez’s last three bouts were promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, while his victory over Caleb Plant in November 2021 was a Showtime PPV presented by PBC.
PBC didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.
Another option for Alvarez is Jack, the WBC cruiserweight titleholder. Jack’s longtime manager, Amer Abdallah, is the Head of Boxing for Saudi Arabia-based Skill Challenge Entertainment, a boxing promotion led by Prince Khalid bin Abdulaziz.
Abdallah told ESPN on Monday that “the big items are agreed upon, which is an approximate date” and “the financials” for a proposed fight for Jack’s 200-pound title in October in Saudi Arabia. Alvarez has expressed a desire to fight in Saudi Arabia and was ringside for Andy Ruiz’s rematch with Anthony Joshua in the nation’s capital, Riyadh, in December 2019.
Abdallah conceded the weight is an issue. Alvarez holds all four titles at 168 pounds and has twice competed for a light heavyweight title, but has never weighed more than 174.5 pounds — his weight when he scored a highlight-reel KO of Sergey Kovalev in November 2019.
Jack (28-3-3, 17 KOs) is a practicing Muslim whose last four fights took place in the Middle East. His most recent two fights were in Saudi Arabia, including his February triumph over Ilunga Makabu to capture the WBC cruiserweight title.
The cruiserweight division limit is 200 pounds. Jack, a 39-year-old former super middleweight titleholder and light heavyweight contender, weighed 198.75 pounds for his last bout and hasn’t tipped the scales under 198.5 pounds since June 2021.
“It’s now just getting it over the finish line with the weight,” Abdallah said. “And mind you, that’s not a small hurdle, but it’s one we’re going back and forth on. So far, this has been the only situation and the only term that we’ve not fully agreed on. … But I’m hoping that if you fight for [a] cruiserweight [title], you’ve got to at least fight around the cruiserweight division [200 pounds] and not at light heavyweight [175 pounds].”
Alvarez, 32, outpointed John Ryder last month to retain his undisputed super middleweight championship in a Mexico homecoming.
Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KOs) was fighting for the first time since he underwent left wrist surgery in October and did so before 50,000-plus fans in Guadalajara.
In the lead-up to the fight and afterward, Alvarez said he was focused on a rematch with Russia’s Dmitry Bivol in September. Alvarez was soundly defeated by Bivol in May 2022, his first loss since his 2013 fight with Floyd Mayweather.
The Bivol fight — for which Jermall Charlo was one of two finalists to face Alvarez — was Alvarez’s second 175-pound bout. He returned to defeat Gennadiy Golovkin in September 2022 on Mexican Independence Day Weekend, one of two annual dates Alvarez routinely reserves (the other is Cinco de Mayo Weekend).
Bivol told ESPN on Friday that the rematch with Alvarez is not happening in September, saying, “If you want to fight only me, just connect with our team and ask us about the fight.” Instead, Bivol said he would stay busy with a fall fight and target Artur Beterbiev for the undisputed light heavyweight championship.
Leading up to the Ryder fight, Alvarez insisted on a rematch with Bivol taking place at 175 pounds, while Bivol said he was only interested in a return fight at 168 pounds for Alvarez’s four titles.
“Canelo wants the rematch on all the same terms as the fight he lost,” Bivol’s manager, Vadim Kornilov, told ESPN on Friday. “Usually when a fighter really wants a rematch to happen, he doesn’t ask for all the same terms. If Canelo really wanted to avenge his loss as desperately as he portrays to the press, he would have been fighting GGG and Ryder first.
“And they would not be talking to the reps of Charlo, [David] Benavidez, [Edgar] Berlanga, etc. He is obviously avoiding Bivol and they know it would be tough for them to beat him.”
Benavidez, ESPN’s No. 2 super middleweight after Alvarez, has been calling for his shot at Alvarez in September. His promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz, stated Benavidez is moving on after he never received a response to an offer he made to Reynoso. “We had a friendly meeting [after] which I promised to send a proposal,” Lewkowicz told ESPN on Monday.
“And then [Reynoso] insults me by claiming he never received a proposal. I sent it by email, by text message and by WhatsApp. There’s no way he didn’t receive it. … The only thing he’s looking for is the legacy of Canelo so that he can retire in two or three fights without losing. This is boxing, nothing is written in stone. He can lose to somebody less than Benavidez.”