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Azad Championship Report: No Sprinkling of Cinnamon on May 4th

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The big news last week was that WBC junior middleweight titlist Saul “Canelo” Alvarez would be facing WBA beltholder Austin Trout in one of the more intriguing and anticipated bouts of 2013. But in a new change of plans, it would not be taking place May 4th on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather’s bout against Robert Guerrero at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Instead, Alvarez made the decision to go fishing on April 20th at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas on Showtime.
 
Good for him.
 
He simply wasn’t going help bolster the bottom line of “Money” Mayweather without any guarantee of facing him in the fall.

“Canelo,” unlike most fighters, isn’t a guy who needs the exposure that comes from being on pay-per-view undercards. He himself is a franchise. In fact, he’s been one for awhile. That much was evident when he packed in over 13,000 fans to the Honda Center in Anaheim back in March 2011 to face Matthew - not Ricky - Hatton. He does huge ratings on Televisa in Mexico. He’s put up strong numbers on HBO and now Showtime (which televised his last bout versus Josesito Lopez). Alvarez is among that select few who actually moves the needle. It says here he was more vital to that May 4th card than Guerrero in regard to the Latin market.
 
And his match-up versus Trout was that even rarer species: the pay-per-view undercard offering this fight would’ve helped bolster sales. Most undercard bouts on these shows are either showcase bouts, favors for the featured fighter and their shell companies or complete novelty acts like Butterbean or Mia St. John. Alvarez-Trout is a fight with meaning and its own pay-per-view attraction, could probably do between 200-300,000 buys (yeah, Abner Mares facing Daniel Ponce de Leon is a nice replacement bout for May 4th but you would never even consider putting it on pay-per-view).
 
Alvarez knows how risky this fight with Trout is. Trout is the guy who spoiled his plans to take on Miguel Cotto this year by beating the Puerto Rican star at the Garden back in December. He’s got legitimate size, reach and skills. Oh, and he also happens to be southpaw. Those are usually the things that dissuade bona fide attractions like “Canelo” from facing the likes of Trout. But the time had come for him to legitimize his standing as a junior middleweight titlist. Let’s face it; beginning with his belt-winning effort against the overmatched Hatton (at a catchweight he failed to make), his set of defenses (versus Ryan Rhodes, Alfonso Gomez, Kermit Cintron, Shane Mosley and Josesito Lopez) - while looking good on the surface - were in reality, Charmin-soft. It was a collection of has-beens, never-weres and smaller, older guys who had little chance of providing much of a challenge.
 
If Alvarez can reel in this Trout, even his harshest critics will be silenced (at least momentarily).
 
And this move is also about branding. In the past year or so, Alvarez had been relegated to playing a supporting role on two key Mexican-centric pay-per-view dates. Last year, he faced Mosley in support of Mayweather-Cotto on Cinco de Mayo weekend. Then on Mexican Independence Day weekend in September, his card was overshadowed by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s challenge of middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. Now, he was being asked to play that role again - and with no promise of facing Mayweather?
 
Alvarez simply wasn’t having it and he made a decision to not only reestablish his credentials as a prizefighter but his worth as one. His card in San Antonio (which will coincide with the city’s yearly festival) will be among the most highly attended in the States this year. Alvarez wasn’t willing to be a pawn and have a fight dangled in front of him that may never become a reality (the truth of the matter is if Showtime has guaranteed Mayweather’s purses in their six-fight deal, well, what impetus is there for Mayweather to not take the path of least resistance?) “Canelo” is a big, strong, strapping ’54-pounder in his physical prime - and Mayweather would have to pay Alvarez a lot more than he would the likes of Guerrero or Devon Alexander.
 
But this much is clear; “Canelo” is back in business.
 
His own.
 
SHOWTIME
 
OK, the last two telecasts on Showtime won’t be put into any time capsule but the announcement of the Trout-Alvarez bout is just part of a very attractive schedule they have moving forward with Golden Boy Promotions.
 
Early last week, it was announced that Mares-Ponce de Leon would take place on April 20th at the Home Depot Center, alongside Marcos Maidana vs. Josesito Lopez. But as “Canelo” decided to grab his own date, a major reshuffling of their scheduling took place in the following days. So now, Maidana-Lopez is slotted for June 8th at the Home Depot Center as part of a Showtime tripleheader. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer says the Alexander-Kell Brook bout will land on May 18th and he is working feverishly to make a showdown between Lucas Matthysse and Lamont Peterson. And June 22nd is being set aside for a card at the Barclays Center for the return of Paulie Malignaggi (although those plans may have already changed).
 
Any way you slice it, this is a strong slate of fights on Showtime after a slow start to its year. You certainly can’t accuse Golden Boy of “Tiozzo-ing” the Showtime boxing franchise as of this moment.
 
HBO’S PROBLEM?
 
Schaefer says a June 15th slot on HBO at the Mandalay Bay has been set aside for Adrien Broner’s next outing. And according to this story by Lem Satterfield, http://ringtv.craveonline.com/blog/177519-broner-malignaggi-possible-for-june, one of their targets is Malignaggi, who holds a welterweight belt.
 
This means all those fights in the junior welterweight division that many fans were looking forward to may not be on his radar for the time being. I think HBO has a bit of a dilemma here. Yeah, Broner is certainly an important part of their future but would they do it at the expense of not getting certain fights from him? Honestly, you have to wonder if HBO would approve Malignaggi under any other circumstance. If I’m one of the suits at that network, it’s Ricky Burns or bust for June 15th.
 
But if this comes to fruition and Broner never faces the likes of Matthysse, Peterson, Amir Khan and Danny Garcia, among others at 140, then his new moniker should be “Bob Beamon.”
 
ZZZZZ
 
The fight between WBA lightweight titlist Richard Abril and Sharif Bogere lived down to every (low) expectation. Mostly because, well…Abril is involved. Yeah, I get it; not every fighter is Arturo Gatti but Abril has taken spoiling to a whole new, unwatchable level. I don’t think I’m alone in stating I don’t ever want to see him taking up one of those valuable slots on HBO or Showtime again.
 
Schaefer told me on Friday that he was contemplating having the hard-hitting Omar Figueroa face the winner of Abril-Bogere as the co-feature on April 20th in San Antonio. This makes sense given that Figueroa - who scored a first round KO on Saturday night - is from Texas. But honestly, why do this to a young, bright fighter with a future? Figueroa has an exciting style and I think the fans who attend that card at the Alamodome don’t want to see Abril’s mauling and mugging.
 
There will be other titles to take in the near future. No need to go there with Figueroa.
 
As for Gary Russell Jr., yeah, this is getting pretty monotonous; isn’t it? I don’t even know what to really say at this point. The reality is he probably won’t get a title shot at 126 till he is in the mandatory position because he brings a lot of risk for not much reward. No, Russell’s career isn’t necessarily dying on the vine (it’s much too early for that) but it’s certainly getting a tad stale.
 
FINAL FLURRIES
 
According to the Scottish Sun, the lightweight unification tilt between Miguel Vazquez and Ricky Burns, scheduled for March 16th, has been called off (http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/sport/4822861/Rickys-title-fight-is-OFF.html). Ricky Mota, adviser for Vazquez, says the fighter got ill this past week and went back to Tijuana...Just wondering, but shouldn’t there be a yearly boxing card for this Fiesta San Antonio (http://www.fiesta-sa.org/) like there is on a regular basis for the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York?...With the injury to Antonio Orozco, featherweight Jamie Kavanagh has been bumped to the co-feature on this upcoming “ShoBox”...Ray Beltran gets back to work on the April 27th edition of “Solo Boxeo” on UniMas...Is Don Ackerman part of G-Unit? He gave six of the first seven rounds of the Evgeny Gradovich-Billy Dib fight to Dib (while the two other judges, Don Trella and Glenn Feldman, had it a one point fight at that stage). He eventually had Dib winning by the score of 114-112 in a fight almost everyone had Gradovich winning clearly. Don’t think for one moment that judges don’t bank early rounds for certain fighters to “budget” their scorecards...Willie Nelson is a fighter on the rise; he’s come a long way from his loss to Vincent Arroyo...Duke-Miami is the only college hoops game I’ve watched all year; I chose a good one...“Scandal” is a great show. If you’re not watching, you’re missing out (and not just Kerry Washington)...Yeah, the man to bring North Korea back into the fold is Dennis Rodman. I’m absolutely convinced of itI can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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