By Matt Andrzejewski
Canelo’s Next Move
As expected, Saul “Canelo’ Alvarez easily dispatched of Liam Smith in their junior middleweight title bout on Saturday in Texas. As of this moment, Canelo’s return is penciled in for December on HBO. But who will he be facing? Well, there is one name out there not a lot are mentioning but seems very likely.
Immediately following his victory against Smith, Canelo (pictured with Oscar De La Hoya) indicated that he would probably not be returning to the junior middleweight division. For his initial bout as a full-fledged middleweight, Canelo and his team will probably try to cherry pick an opponent with a high ranking. It does not necessarily need to be a name opponent as the bout will not be going pay-per-view. The opponent will need to be respectable yet also very beatable much like Liam Smith.
The WBC has long been an organization that has held Canelo in a very favorable manner. The number one ranked WBC contender at middleweight is Argentina’s Jorge Sebastian Heiland. And this is the fighter I expect we see Canelo face in December.
Given the ranking of Heiland, the WBC would probably sanction the fight for some sort of belt. In all likelihood, their “Silver” title at middleweight which is currently vacant. So the fight could be marketed as a title fight. In addition, Heiland has all the credentials Golden Boy would be seeking in an opponent for Canelo. He is tough but is not a big puncher. Heiland has never been stopped and would at the very least figure to go rounds. He has one name win on his resume and that was a knockout of Matthew Macklin two years ago. So that could be played up some in building up the fight.
This is, of course, not the fight that we all want to see. But given the current situation, is very realistic, from a business standpoint, if nothing else. HBO will buy because Canelo draws an audience regardless of whom he faces. Jorge Sebastian Heiland is a name boxing fans should get familiar with as he seems likely next for Canelo in December.
Oleksandr Usyk captured the WBO cruiserweight title this past weekend in just his tenth fight as a pro with a well-deserved unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Krzysztof Glowacki. All things considered, it was a solid performance by Usyk who went the distance for the first time in his career.
The expectations going into this fight were unfairly very high for Usyk. The former amateur star had looked spectacular in his first nine fights as a pro. He had displayed skills that some compared to fellow countryman Vasyl Lomachenko. And power that some felt was on par with that of Sergey Kovalev. Going into the Glowacki fight, much of the boxing community was expecting a star making knockout winning performance.
In Krzysztof Glowacki, Usyk was facing one of the top cruiserweights in the sport. He had just a year earlier ended the long reign of Marco Huck and was coming off a fairly one-sided win over Steve Cunningham. Glowacki is a good boxer who carries power in both hands and is not an easy fight for anyone. It was unrealistic going into the bout to think that Usyk would steamroll him.
Taking a step back from the high expectations, Usyk’s performance was very impressive. He boxed effectively using movement and combinations to keep Glowacki at bay most of the night. Usyk’s defense was very solid, especially for a fighter in just his 10th professional bout. And though he did not get the knockout, he did show real power in both hands. Glowacki did not let his hands go as often as he had in other bouts and the reason was concern for being countered by Usyk’s heavy hands. The fact of the matter here is Usyk pretty much dominated Glowacki although it wasn’t the one-sided quick demolition that so many inside the sport unfairly expected.
Oleksandr Usyk is only going to get better going forward. The experience he got from the Glowacki fight will only help. The expectations were a little much going into this fight but that said Usyk does possess the kind of talent that does not come along often in this sport. He needs to develop more but over time may turn into something really special.
Under the Radar Fights
At first glance, the boxing schedule this week seems fairly light. There are no PBC cards and no big live events on premium cable. However, there are some very good under-the-radar fights taking place that fans should not miss.
Showtime has a ShoBox quadruple header scheduled on Friday night. The main event is a very evenly matched contest in the light heavyweight division pitting undefeated Travis Peterkin against Radivoje Kalajdzic. Peterkin is a former amateur standout from Brooklyn, NY, and Kalajdzic is coming off his best performance, albeit in a loss, to prospect Marcus Browne. On paper, this is a tough fight to call and should not only be competitive but very entertaining.
Also on the card are a couple of returning ShoBox fighters in Ivan Golub and Ivan Baranchyk. These are two big time prospects with big time power. They are each taking a step up in class so it will be interesting to see how they respond to their respective tests.
In my previous column, I wrote about the excellent fighters south of bantamweight and the many great fights that are out there to be made. On Saturday, beIN Sports features one such fight in a flyweight bout between Donnie Nietes and Edgar Sosa. Nietes has not lost a fight for 12 years and Sosa is a former title-holder who makes for exciting fights. This is a classic crossroads fight and a must-win for each man. With what is on the line and the styles of the two, I expect a real firefight could occur. This is a fight not to be missed.