By Keith Idec
If Canelo Alvarez is as adamant about not fighting Gennadiy Golovkin again as she has been led to believe, Kathy Duva considers Sergey Kovalev the perfect opponent for the Mexican superstar’s September 14 return to the ring.
Kovalev’s promoter realizes, though, that time isn’t on her side in negotiations for an Alvarez-Kovalev fight.
A deal essentially is in place for Kovalev to make a mandatory defense of his WBO light heavyweight title against Anthony Yarde on August 24. Investors in Russia thus need to know as soon as possible if they are indeed moving forward with a Kovalev-Yarde fight, which would take place in Kovalev’s hometown seven weeks from Saturday night.
Golden Boy Promotions made Main Events, the company for which Duva is CEO, an offer Tuesday for Kovalev to fight Alvarez. It’ll take more money than Golden Boy proposed to get the deal done, however, because Kovalev will have to pay England’s Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs) a significant sum of money to step aside from what he’ll receive for battling Alvarez.
“Sergey is at that stage in his career where you fight the guy who wants the legacy fight and you get paid for it,” Duva told BoxingScene.com. “That’s how this business works. That is what we expect. In the meantime, Sergey has got a mandatory that we’re gonna have to take care of unless somebody moves very quickly.”
Since making its offer to Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs), Golden Boy Promotions also has gauged interest from representatives for WBO junior middleweight champ Jaime Munguia (33-0, 26 KOs) and WBO middleweight champ Demetrius Andrade (28-0, 17 KOs). Golden Boy has a little more time to negotiate with Munguia and Andrade because, unlike Kovalev, neither fighter has another bout tentatively scheduled.
With all due respect to Munguia, Andrade and anyone else Golden Boy might consider, Duva is convinced Kovalev is the highest-profile opponent Alvarez can fight if he isn’t interested in a third fight against Golovkin (39-1-1, 35 KOs), the middleweight rival Alvarez beat by majority decision in their rematch September 15 in Las Vegas.
That’s particularly important to DAZN, which needs to generate a substantial number of subscriptions to justify its investment in Alvarez. DAZN and Alvarez agreed to a five-year, 11-fight deal in October that could become worth $365 million.
Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) would attempt to win a world title in a fourth division if he were to move up two weight classes for a shot at Kovalev’s title. Kovalev is 36 and has lost by knockout twice in the past two years, yet he is considerably bigger than Alvarez and has been one of his division’s most powerful punchers of this era.
“We really believe that this is a fight that moves the needle,” Duva said. “Sergey has great name recognition. Name someone, other than Golovkin, that Canelo could plausibly fight who has more name recognition than Sergey Kovalev? And you’ve got this most beloved fighter in Canelo, fighting a guy who’s become a total villain in Sergey.”
That said, money ultimately will determine Kovalev’s next move. Thus far, he has been offered less than half of the low-eight-figure purse Daniel Jacobs made for facing Alvarez in their middleweight title unification match May 4 in Las Vegas.
“I’d love to get Sergey life-changing money for this fight,” Duva said. “And we would take it in a minute if they would offer us the kind of money they offer other people. But to get less money for fighting Canelo than he’ll make in Russia to fight [Yarde], come on. We just can’t do that.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.