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10 Thoughts on Boxing's Álvarez vs. Plant Fight, Judging, Possible Events and More

With the fight officially dead, an insider within the boxing world weighs in on what the boxers can do next.

Ten rounds as a quiet July turns the corner into what should be a busy August ...

10. So what really happened between Saúl "Canelo" Álvarez and Caleb Plant? ESPN reported this week that talks for a September fight between the two were “100% dead.” Álvarez, 31, had hoped to lock in a full 168-pound unification fight against Plant, 29, with Sept. 18 as the targeted date. On Thursday I asked Eddie Hearn, who works closely with Álvarez, what the sticking point was in the negotiations.

“Well, the easy answer to that is that all the terms requested weren't agreeable on various sides,” Hearn told Sports Illustrated. “We made an offer to PBC to do the fight on DAZN. PBC made an offer to Canelo Álvarez to do the fight on Fox. I discussed that offer with [manager/trainer] Eddy Reynoso and Canelo. We agreed to move forward with that offer. At that point, as my conversation with Saúl went, I'm his promoter. I'm on the team, but effectively I'm not promoting the show because it's a PBC show, which I have no problem with, because legacy is more important at this point.

“And when the contracts came through, it wasn't agreed on both sides. I've seen the comments from Caleb Plant. I'm sure Saúl's got his own opinions of those comments as well, but the important thing is it couldn't be agreed and it couldn't be agreed for September the 18th.”

9. So what’s next for Álvarez? Hearn has offered up Dmitry Bivol, a 175-pound titleholder, as a potential opponent, while keeping the door open that a Plant fight could be revisited. I asked Hearn whether Bivol was the frontrunner now that negotiations with Plant had stalled.

“Not necessarily, but that's definitely a strong option,” Hearn said. “Before the Plant offer was effectively accepted, Dmitry Bivol was the fight that we, as in DAZN, were pushing as an alternative. Dmitry Bivol was on board with that flight. I think it's a very good fight.

“There are some other options at 168 pounds, but Dmitry Bivol was certainly a fight. Canelo's got a knack for facing champions and I think he loves to do it. And Dmitry Bivol is a great champion at 175 pounds, so that would definitely be an option. But again, when we talk about time frame in seven weeks, Dmitry Bivol is in training, but there's going to be some point where Dmitry Bivol turns around and says, ‘Look, I'm out for September 18th.’ And that is probably very soon to be quite honest.”

8. And what about Gennady Golovkin? The timing would seem perfect to revisit talks for a third fight between two of boxing’s biggest stars. Golovkin, who has not fought since last December, is planning a late December showdown with middleweight titleholder Ryōta Murata. But he has been seeking an opponent to face before that. After close, compelling bouts between the two in 2017 and ’18, there would be significant mainstream interest in a third. I asked Hearn, who has worked with Golovkin, whether Canelo was considering a GGG fight.

“I don't believe for this September, no,” Hearn said. “I know Gennady's focused on the Murata fight in December. I think that's a fight that will always have relevance as long as they're both fighting and it could be a fight for May next year, but I think the next decision is, do we fight September 18th, or do we just relax and take it on the chin that we'll just fight one more time this year and see if the Plant fight changes direction?”

7. The big loser in the collapse of Canelo-Plant? Plant, who was reportedly set to earn a payday in the neighborhood of $10 million. If a Canelo fight can’t be revisited, Plant’s options would be Jermall Charlo, a middleweight titleholder, or David Benavidez, a former 168-pound champion who has been clamoring for a shot at Plant. These are excellent fights, but Plant’s purses would be less than half of what he was set to make against Canelo. And he wouldn’t be favored to win against, either.

Boxers Canelo Álvarez and Caleb Plant

6. Fixing bad judging, which was spotlighted again earlier this month by Nelson Vazquez’s horrendous scorecard in the Jermall Charlo–Brian Castaño fight, is complicated. There is no governing body, with each state having different methods for judge selection. But how about we start with making sure boxing’s three best judges are scoring the biggest fights? These judges are easy to identify. It’s Steve Weisfeld. It’s Dave Moretti. It’s Glenn Feldman. It’s Julie Lederman (sorry, Lederman critics, but many promoters believe she is very good). Mainstream sports like basketball and football wouldn’t think about holding a big event without its top officials. Why can’t boxing, which has been plagued by high-profile judging controversies in recent years, do the same?

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5. One more from Hearn. With the WBO recently ordering Terence Crawford and Shawn Porter to begin negotiations for a welterweight title fight, a purse bid looms as a possibility. While Hearn doesn’t represent either Crawford or Porter, that didn’t stop him from making an aggressive bid for Teófimo López’s lightweight title fight against George Kambosos. If Crawford-Porter went to purse bid, would Hearn, on behalf of DAZN, make a bid?

“Yes, I think we would probably bid on that fight,” Hearn said. “We would talk to DAZN and we would establish the value of that fight. Now that value is based on, quite frankly, the subscribers it would drive. Terence Crawford has never been a pay-per-view fighter on ESPN. We saw the numbers against Amir Khan were very poor, but he's also a tremendous fighter, and he's not really had many great dance partners. Here he has one in Shawn Porter, he's probably coming to the back end of his career. Very tough. He's well-known. It's a good fight. So we will weigh up our options. We'll speak to DAZN and we'll establish the true value of that fight and that's what we'll bid.”

4. Joe Joyce should forget about the heavyweight titles. Joyce, who solidified his spot as the WBO’s mandatory challenger with a win over Carlos Takam last weekend, likely won’t get a title shot for another year, if not longer. But there are plenty of big money fights out there. Domestically there are compelling matchups with Dillian Whyte and Derek Chisora. Joseph Parker, a former titleholder, is also available. Those fights won’t net Joyce a title. But they will fatten his bank account.

3. On Friday, Evan Holyfield, son of boxing Hall of Famer Evander Holyfield, will return when he faces journeyman Agustin Cicero in Windham, N.H. Holyfield (6–0) will step up into his first six-round fight, and he will do it once again with veteran trainer Mike Stafford, whom Holyfield linked up with earlier this year. On Thursday, I asked Jolene Mizzone, vice president of operations at Main Events, which promotes Holyfield, for an update on his progress.

“He's progressing just as I thought he would,” Mizzone told SI. “This is his second fight with Stafford. Stafford is trying to improve on what he has. Holyfield has power, has a great jab. Stafford is trying to build on that. And he’s calming him down. Holyfield gets overly excited. He used to go into the ring very anxious. With him, like with other guys, I take it fight by fight. Let me see how he looks in this fight, then see who we can put him in with next.”

2. By his estimation, Lamar Odom had 12 strokes and six heart attacks during a 2015 hospitalization caused by a drug-fueled binge at a Nevada brothel, and still struggles with memory issues to this day. In the 1990s, Riddick Bowe claimed brain damage was at the heart of a domestic incident where Bowe kidnapped his wife and five children. Now Odom, the former NBA forward, and Bowe, the ex-heavyweight champion, will meet in an exhibition boxing match in October in Miami, event promoter Damon Feldman announced this week. Odom, 41, knocked out former pop star Aaron Carter last month. Bowe, 53, has been retired since 2008, and largely out of boxing since stepping away in 1996. The fight will be three, two-minute rounds, with both men wearing 23-ounce gloves.

1. Last thought, on judging: Did you know that promoters pay travel, accommodations and fees for boxing judges? It’s true. State commissions dictate what a judge is to be paid, but the promoter pays it. And there are no rules against a promoter's bumping up the class of airfare for an out-of-state judge or putting them up in a five-star hotel. And judges, several promoters told SI, can make some uncomfortable requests, from asking promoters to buy plane tickets for family members to picking up the tab on expensive dinners.

Last week, I asked veteran boxing promoter Lou DiBella whether he ever felt uncomfortable by a request from a judge.

“Yes,” DiBella said.

Did DiBella worry that if he didn’t fulfill the request his fighter might suffer for it?

“Yes,” DiBella said. “But I still didn’t fulfill, generally, the requests.”

“Wining and dining, doing a dinner, I don’t find anything wrong with that,” DiBella said. “You’re on the road for a period of time. But if you’re allowing someone to have a culinary tour of five-star restaurants at the promoter's expense, that ain’t kosher. But it’s not illegal. There don’t appear to be rules that govern it … boxing is dodge city. It’s a red-light district. It’s lawlessness' there are no barriers to entry and there are basically no rules. Frankly, the system is broken across the board." 

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