The Canelo-Smith Undercard Turns to Sludge

 

By Arne K. Lang

The Sept. 17 Golden Boy Promotions card featuring Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Liam “Beefy” Smith, a title defense for Liverpool’s Smith, is seemingly a promotion in need of a strong undercard. Canelo has fans in Mexican precincts that will pay top dollar to see him fight Joe Blow, but this bout won’t generate good PPV sales outside those precincts unless it is packaged in an attractive box. The view from here is that Liam Smith (pictured dropping Newark’s John Thompson) is a strong opponent, but the oddsmakers don’t seem to think so and Canelo is facing a backlash after sidestepping Gennady Golovkin.

The original co-feature had Luis Ortiz (25-0, 22 KOs) defending his WBA interim heavyweight title against Russia’s Alexander Ustinov (33-1, 24 KOs). In fact, this match was made before Golden Boy picked Liam Smith to be Canelo’s next opponent.

Ortiz vs. Ustinov would have attracted considerable buzz, notwithstanding the fact that both fighters are in their late 30’s and that Ortiz, a 6’4”, 240-pound southpaw, would have been chalked a substantial favorite. There is a school of thought that Ortiz is the best heavyweight out there and Ustinov, the larger man, would have provided a good measuring stick.

Ortiz-Ustinov fell apart when the Cuban defector demanded more money. Golden Boy then turned their gaze toward Billy Joe Saunders, the WBO middleweight champion.

The undefeated (23-0) Saunders is an interesting fellow. The 2008 Olympian, a member of England’s Irish Traveler community, is reportedly the great-grandson of Absolom Beeney, England’s most famous gypsy bare-knuckle fighter. In common with his Irish Traveler compatriot Tyson Fury, Saunders is a bit of a loose cannon, but in a way that endears him to many casual fight fans. He’s good copy, and good copy sells tickets.

Ortiz vs. Ustinov and Saunders vs. TBA were fights that had meaning in the larger scheme of things. According to the WBA, the Ortiz-Ustinov winner would be next in line to meet the lineal heavyweight champion, either Tyson Fury or Wladimir Klitschko depending on the outcome of their forthcoming rematch.

If Canelo and Saunders had won their respective bouts, they would fight each other next, likely in December. This would be Canelo’s first fight as a true middleweight and, if all went according to plan, his final stepping-stone to a mega-fight with GGG. But like Luis Ortiz before him, Billy Joe spurned Golden Boy’s offer.

What we now have as the “co-feature” is a 12-round middleweight contest between Gabriel Rosado (23-9, 1 ND, 13 KOs) and Willie Monroe Jr. (20-2, 6 KOs). This bout, says a Golden Boy tub-thumper, “is a sure-fire action fight that features two of boxing’s most resilient fighters who have taken on the top fighters in their division on their rise to stardom, garnering praise and respect from boxing fans.”

Yes, this does have the earmarks of a competitive, fan-friendly fight. But the Golden Boy PR guy used the term “stardom” very loosely. Rosado is better than his record, but he went through a stretch when he lost five in a row with one of those defeats refashioned into a “no contest” when his opponent tested positive for a banned substance. As for Monroe, his great uncle Willie “The Worm” Monroe was one of only three men to defeat Marvin Hagler, but this Willie is no Willie the Worm. Monroe recently agreed in principle to a bout with Avtandil Khurtsidze, but then his management reneged, a prudent decision.

What we have here is a good 10-round fight that has been elevated into a 12-rounder simply because protocol dictates having at least one other 12-rounder beyond the main event on a PPV show. As for what awaits the winner, Golden Boy is candid: “a final run of the middleweight ladder.”

The other fights slated for the TV portion of the show are a 10-round featherweight contest between Joseph Diaz Jr. (21-0, 12 KOs) and Andrew Cancio (17-3-2, 13 KOs) and a 10-round contest in the super bantamweight division between Diego De La Hoya (15-0, 9 KOs) and Orlando Del Valle (22-2, 16 KOs). These two fights, says Golden Boy, will deliver non-stop action.

In truth, Cancio is no match for JoJo Diaz, the baby-faced former Olympian who is broadening his fan base by learning to speak Spanish. And although Diaz is very good, this contest has limited appeal outside the Southern California market. As for Diego De La Hoya, he appears to be well-matched against Puerto Rico’s Del Valle, but one wonders if he would be getting international TV exposure this early in his career if he wasn’t Oscar De La Hoya’s first cousin.

We suspect that Golden Boy will be pressured to spruce up this show by bumping one of the announced undercard fights off TV in favor of a more compelling match-up. Either HBO or Jerry Jones, the emperor of fantabulous AT&T Stadium, will step forth and insist upon more bang for their buck. Time will tell.

COMMENTS

-stormcentre :

Rosado (whom I like) requires careful matchmaking to continue, both his career and life (if it is to be) without neurological issues. Both he and Monroe should stay away from Khurtsidze. Smith's chances against Canelo are not exactly looking sensational. I know the Brits will say otherwise and that's cool too as they have to; as Liam is their man. I like Smith, he is strong, confident, creative with his output, and far from being just a contender level fighter that has obtained a belt. I'm just not sure he will have the experience, speed, and strength to stay with Canelo.
Storm. :) :)


-oubobcat :

I agree with the article. The undercard falls far short from impressing and a strong undercard was desperately needed to support the weak main event. I like the Monroe-Rosado fight a like. Actually, a lot more than Canelo-Smith. This is actually the type of fight that would have been great on the old Friday Night Fight Series. Heck, I'll take as a main on a Sunday afternoon card say over Spence-Bundu which the result is already by and large pre-determined. But as a PPV co-feature, it does not work especially when the main event itself is a mismatch. Nothing at all against Monroe and Rosado, I see a very good fight. But a stronger co-feature was needed. The rest of the card are showcase fights. Yes step ups for the prospects involved but still showcases. Golden Boy continues to mystify me under the new direction of Oscar. Sometimes, they make some great fights (Perez-Petrov for example just announced yesterday and Soto Karass-Kamegai). And sometimes well not so good fights. My gut feeling here...they know the main is weak and other than die hard Canelo fans (say around 200k) they know not a lot of others are buying especially in the heat of college football season with a big time game (Ohio State-Oklahoma) taking place head to head. Why then put together a strong undercard they are more than capable of they buys are already set regardless of who fights underneath? So they waived the white flag, cut back on expenses and this is what we get. This is why Perez-Petrov is not on this card and headlining separate two weeks later. It would have been a great addition but added no buys. So why not sell it alone and sell tickets that people will buy? We should get a better undercard for what we are paying. But this is the business of the sport unfortunately and this is the card we get. Still better than say Bradley-Marquez or Pacquiao-Rios but that is not saying a lot.


-amayseng :

this whole card and MAIN event has no intrigue and is uneventful Nice work Canelo for being a bitch and following through as one perfectly. Pretentious much


-amayseng :

the ufc 145 lb champion jumped up 25 lbs to challenge himself , was dominating the bigger man and lost. He wanted the rematch immediately and at the same HIGHER weight. Conor McG has BALLS and challenges himself. This is what MMA has to offer. For us boxing fans we have Canelo who weighs 175 on fight night if not higher, had a mw belt at 160 but refused to fight GGG for the mw lineal title and belts.... Canelo is a bitch, boxing loses as mma wins..... Thanks Canelo


-oubobcat :

Rosado (whom I like) requires careful matchmaking to continue, both his career and life (if it is to be) without neurological issues. Both he and Monroe should stay away from Khurtsidze. Smith's chances against Canelo are not exactly looking sensational. I know the Brits will say otherwise and that's cool too as they have to; as Liam is their man. I like Smith, he is strong, confident, creative with his output, and far from being just a contender level fighter that has obtained a belt. I'm just not sure he will have the experience, speed, and strength to stay with Canelo.
Storm. :) :)
If I were managing a fighter, I'd stay as far away from Khurtsidze as possible. His activity and strength will cause fits for anyone at 160. As a matter of fact, if Golovkin beats Brook (and of course I think he does) man would that be a fight to see at 160. I love how old school a fighter Rosado has been throughout his career. He will fight anyone and does not just say it. He acts on his words. Rosado has lost some fights but is a true hard core fans fighter. He again takes a tough fight against a slick southpaw in Monroe. Monroe is the type of fighter that most avoid. But not Rosado. So give him tons of credit. That said, I think Monroe wins by decision. Rosado has moments (similar to Vera against Monroe, maybe more) but Monroe too slick. I like the fight though, just wish there was a lot more to this card.


-stormcentre :

Yep, Khurtsidze is yet another guy out there that Triple could fight. Agree too, Rosado is game and will come to fight. I'm not entirely sure it does him much good and/or is entertaining though. But then to approach the commentary of been seen to remotely complain about it is also counter to what a lot of fans want. As they want to see blood/guts fights, and Rosado brings that. Talk aside; it's going to be interesting to see the size, speed, and confidence difference between Smith and Canelo, come fight night. This is Oscar and Canelo's way of saying . . .

""It doesn't matter whether they come from welterweight (Kahn) or light middleweight (Smith) or whether one helped the other prepare to fight Canelo last, we beat them all and you all need to consider that when ridiculing us for fighting Kahn and seemingly avoiding Triple.""

A win for Canelo here adds some legitimacy to Kahn's loss and it adds something (that can be portrayed as) new to the never ending debate about whom - between Canelo and Triple - cherry picks and catch-weight limits and/or straight out avoids, dangerous weight divisions and opponents; the most.
Storm. :) :)


-KO Digest :

Oh, "sidestepping" is putting it mildly Arne!