Representatives for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Ryota Murata are engaged in serious talks about staging a fight between Alvarez and Murata in the spring, three sources familiar with the talks told SI.com.
Alvarez (53-1-2) is coming off a knockout win over Sergey Kovalev in November. The win over Kovalev earned Canelo a piece of the light heavyweight championship. Canelo vacated the title in December.
Murata (16-2) holds a secondary middleweight title and has won two straight since a decision defeat to Rob Brant last year. Murata is also extremely popular in Japan, and Canelo has expressed strong interest in fighting there. He told SI.com earlier this month that traveling to Japan as a teenager to watch the Kameda brothers fight are among his favorite memories.
“I’ve been thinking about fighting all over the world,” Alvarez told SI.com. “Tokyo, Japan, has been one of the primary places on my mind.
Talks for a Canelo-Murata are not at an advanced stage, a source told SI.com, and Murata is one of three opponents Alvarez and his promoter Golden Boy are considering. Super middleweight titleholders Billy Joe Saunders and Callum Smith are widely believed to be the other two.
A Canelo-Murata fight would be big business in Japan, with the potential to draw a crowd in excess of 50,000 at a venue like the Tokyo Dome. The fight would likely be held in the morning, local time, to ensure a prime time audience in the U.S. Canelo’s next fight will be the fourth fight in an 11-fight deal with streaming service DAZN, a deal that could pay Alvarez as much as $365 million.
While Murata has campaigned at middleweight, it’s unclear what weight a fight with Canelo would be at. Alvarez holds a piece of the 160-pound title, but after moving up to light heavyweight for his last fight, it’s expected that Canelo would fight, at least temporarily, at 168-pounds to avoid a major weight cut.
The date could be flexible, too. Alvarez prefers to fight in May and September, on Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day weekends. But there is growing industry buzz that Floyd Mayweather, who has been retired since 2017, is preparing to return, possibly for as many as two fights in 2020, with UFC star Conor McGregor, who Mayweather knocked out in his last fight, and Manny Pacquiao, who Mayweather outpointed in 2015, his likely targets. Like Alvarez, Mayweather prefers to fight in May and September, too.
Mayweather teased a rematch with McGregor on his social media after McGregor knocked out Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 on Saturday. In acknowledging being voted the Boxing Writers Association of America’s Fighter of the Decade, Mayweather tweeted that he “wasn’t done punching.”
In Mayweather’s absence, Alvarez, 29, has emerged as boxing’s most bankable star, with recent performances earning him a top spot on many pound-for-pound lists. Alvarez was SI.com’s Fighter of the Year in 2019, after picking up wins over Daniel Jacobs and Kovalev.