Sports

Canelo holds off on Bivol rematch for GGG trilogy

Turns out, it’s status quo for Canelo Alvarez despite an unexpected defeat against Dmitry Bivol. Boxing’s top star indicated at the post-fight news conference that he would exercise his rematch clause for a return bout with Bivol in September, but on Monday, he reversed course.

“We already had that contract [with Gennadiy Golovkin], that agreement, so we have to continue what we started, and I think those are the two biggest fights in boxing, the fight with Golovkin and the rematch with Bivol,” Alvarez said Monday at his golf invitational in Naucalpan, Mexico. “Unfortunately, we lost, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try again.

“The important thing here is perseverance and we’re going to do it again. What is certain is that we are going to return in September. And in the coming days … we are going to announce the fight.”

When Alvarez signed a multi-fight deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing in February, it included a Sept. 17 fight with GGG. Alvarez was a 4-1 favorite to defeat Bivol in a 175-pound title challenge, but he dropped a unanimous decision. The 31-year-old Mexican had 30 days to decide between two options on Sept. 17, sources tell ESPN: a rematch with Bivol or a third with Golovkin.

Now that Alvarez has made his choice, he’ll return to 168 pounds, where he’s the undisputed champion, and defend all four super middleweight titles vs. Golovkin on Mexican Independence Day weekend. The location hasn’t been finalized, per sources, but the first two bouts took place in Las Vegas, and each generated over $20 million in gate receipts.

Even in the aftermath of the loss, Canelo-GGG 3 is perhaps the biggest commercial fight in all of boxing. The September 2017 clash for the unified middleweight championship ended in a controversial split draw. The rematch, one year later, was narrowly won by Alvarez via majority decision.

The third bout will be contested at 168 pounds and double as Golovkin’s debut, at 40 years old, as a full-fledged super middleweight.

Golovkin, a unified middleweight titleholder, has been making the 160-pound limit since he won an Olympic silver medal in 2004. The extra eight pounds could benefit Golovkin, Hearn said, and he believes the loss to Bivol makes the fight even bigger.

“I am comfortable knowing I won those fights,” Golovkin, ESPN’s No. 2 middleweight, told ESPN in March. “I do not look back at the decisions. … I thought I won the first two, so winning the third one would be the same to me.”

Both matchups were thrilling action fights contested at the highest level. Plenty of bad blood remains, too, after Alvarez tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol ahead of the planned May 2018 rematch. He was suspended six months, despite his claim that the adverse finding was the result of tainted meat consumed in Mexico, and the rematch was rescheduled for September 2018 — but not before Golovkin hurled plenty of insults at Alvarez.

Said Alvarez: “[Golovkin] always say something about me; he always talking about me. That’s why [it’s personal].”

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