The hype that preceded the encounter between Undisputed Super-Middleweight world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and former Undisputed Jr. Middleweight world champion Jermell Charlo was largely based on the fact that for the first time in modern Boxing history, two fighters, who were undisputed world champions in their respective weight classes at the same time, would face each other as one would move up significantly in weight to challenge the other for his crown. There was however, the small wrinkle in that once Jermell Charlo entered the ring at the T-Mobile Arena on September 30th to face Alvarez, his status as an undisputed champion would no longer be current as it had been known in the weeks prior to the fight that the World Boxing Organization (WBO) would be stripping Charlo of it’s world championship in the 154lb. Jr. Middleweight division for failing to defend its championship against undefeated number one contender Tim Tszyu. A fight that was supposed to take place, but one that would not be due to Charlo opting to take a high-risk, high-reward gamble by moving up fourteen pounds and two weight divisions to challenge Alvarez.
While it is never good to see an undisputed world championship broken up for any reason, much less the business elements that be in the sport of Boxing, one could make what would be a persuasive argument that economically as things stand in the sport, the fight with Alvarez was the more financially rewarding of the two fights, despite the fact that Tszyu, much like his father, the Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu, is rapidly becoming a star on the rise in the sport in routinely drawing massive crowds in his native Australia. Nevertheless, whenever a fighter makes a leap up the weight scale as Charlo was attempting in this fight with Alvarez, it is intriguing because of the obvious challenge that it presents in facing a fighter who theoretically is naturally bigger, and stronger at a heavier weight.
Although Alvarez has spent the majority of the last several years fighting either in the 168lb. Super-Middleweight division or briefly at the 175lb. Light-Heavyweight division, he was once a Jr. Middleweight much like Charlo, so it was conceivable at least on paper, that Charlo may be able to move up and be competitive with Alvarez if not be as dominant as he had been at 154lbs. Alvarez would show from the opening bell that he is a fighter who is truly in rare company in having the ability to move up in weight and be dominant and in doing so, also show that it is something that is not an easy accomplishment to achieve. The Super-Middleweight champion of the world immediately put Charlo on the defensive in landing short, but thudding punches and in the process applying consistent pressure.
What impressed me about this fight was Alvarez’ ability to not only apply pressure on Charlo, who tried to use lateral movement to be elusive and offset that pressure, but more specifically, the way he was able to cut off the ring. This limited Charlo’s ability to move and also established a clear pattern for which the fight would be fought. Alvarez, pushing Charlo back, landing hard punches and controlling the tempo of the combat from start to finish. A pattern that also limited Charlo’s offensive output. In some ways, Alvarez’ approach in this fight brought back memories of a legendary world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. in terms of how Alvarez looked to gradually break Charlo down. It seemed as though similar to so many opponents that Chavez fought over his Hall of Fame career, that Alvarez was on the verge of doing that in the seventh round when he connected with a right hand that forced Charlo to take a knee.
To Charlo’s credit, he was able to survive and as the fight progressed did try to land something in an attempt to turn the ebb and flow in his favor. It just was not Charlo’s night as Alvarez would close out the fight to earn a convincing twelve round unanimous decision to retain his Undisputed Super-Middleweight championship of the world.
Ultimately, this proved to be a fight that can be summed up as a bigger fighter besting a smaller fighter. In terms of his performance, it is arguable that in addition to moving up fourteen pounds for this fight that inactivity in addition to time needed to recover from a broken hand, likely worked against Charlo in this fight. Jermell Charlo can hold his head up high however, for performing well and going the distance under circumstances where some may have been discouraged to the point where they might not have wanted to finish the fight. Charlo is still a unified world champion in the Jr. Middleweight division holding the world championships of the World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Association (WBA), and International Boxing Federation (IBF). Coming out of this fight, Charlo has stated that he intends to move back down to 154lbs. and the obvious fight to make would be with Tim Tszyu, who is now recognized as the WBO’s Jr. Welterweight world champion in what would be an opportunity for Charlo to fully unify the division twice, something that has not been done in the history of the sport.
When that potential fight could take place will depend on two things. The most obvious among them is Tszyu is scheduled to make his first title defense on October 14th against current WBO number two rated contender Brian Mendoza in Broadbeach, Australia. Charlo will obviously have to wait for the outcome of that fight before any potential plans could be set in motion for a fight between him and Tszyu. The second and perhaps more serious issue depending on one’s perspective might be the current state of the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) group of promoters, whom Charlo currently fights under. It is no secret to those that follow the sport that several fighters who have fought under the PBC banner for several years have begun to seek opportunities fighting under different promoters and different television and streaming networks that currently do not have broadcast deals with the PBC. This in addition to what has been an increasingly sporadic list of dates for the PBC to stage cards through its existing broadcast deal with United States premium cable network Showtime as well as persistent speculation that the network’s parent company Paramount Global is intending to exit the sport of Boxing at the conclusion of 2023, in a similar way as former longtime rival and one of the sport’s prominent players HBO had done at the conclusion of 2018 following a significant merger and restructuring of its then parent company AT&T and WarnerMedia. Paramount has been undergoing a significant restructuring of itself and its properties including Showtime over the course of 2023 and if a decision has indeed been made to back out of Boxing as many have speculated, it will likely put the PBC in a dire situation after previously losing its broadcast deal with Fox Sports here in the United States, who subsequently did not broadcast any Boxing programming either on Fox television stations throughout the country or on Fox Sports branded cable networks throughout 2023. While if indeed Paramount does pull the plug on Showtime’s thirty-seven year involvement in the sport, and such a decision could likely be tied to an overuse as well as overpricing of the outdated pay-per-view model, in terms of the immediate impact on the fighters such as Charlo, who are affiliated with the PBC, it may lead to even more sporadic in ring activity, which has already proved to have at best mixed results for fighters who have sought opportunities under different promoters and networks.
As for Saul Alvarez, his victory over Jermell Charlo was the first in a three-fight agreement with the PBC and if the PBC group of promoters do indeed lose their broadcast deal with Showtime, it will be interesting to see if Alvarez attempts to return to digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN, who have broadcast many of his bouts since December 2018 either as part of its subscription service or on a pay-per-view basis, and perhaps if that previous working relationship might lead to the PBC seeking a deal with the network or at least as a means of fulfilling the remaining two fights in its deal with Alvarez. While obviously, we do not know currently who those potential fights will be against, Alvarez for his part says he just wants to fight and it is likely given that Alvarez is the undisputed champion of the Super-Middleweight division that he will spend his next few fights fulfilling his mandatory defense obligations of the various titles he holds. After previously scoring a twelve round unanimous decision over previous WBO number one contender John Ryder earlier this year, that would leave Alvarez with three defenses to fulfill obligations to the IBF, WBC, and WBA, before the process refreshes for a new slate of mandatory challengers. Who those fights will be against and on what broadcast/streaming platform is obviously up in the air.
Although as of this writing there is no word as to how successful the Alvarez-Charlo bout did in terms of pay-per-view buys at an $85 price point through Showtime Pay-Per-View here in the United States, with another longtime television network that overall has been good for Boxing appearing to be nearing an exit, Boxing’s Pay-Per-View problem and what appears to be an unwillingness of some promoters and maybe even some fighters, who have been conditioned to the belief that pay-per-view is the only way to earn additional revenue, even as evidence of the need to change continues to become more clear, remains an issue for the sport as 2024 nears.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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