Enjoying the superfights in 2023? Give Canelo Alvarez plenty of credit

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 15: Canelo Alvarez speaks to media during a press conference to preview their September 30 super middleweight undisputed championship fight against Jermell Charlo at Palladium Times Square on August 15, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Canelo Alvarez (L),who fights undisputed super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo on Sept. 30 in Las Vegas, said he'd be open to a fight with undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images).

There is a chance if Canelo Alvarez, the undisputed super middleweight champion, gets past undisputed super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo when they meet Sept. 30 in the main event of a Showtime pay-per-view card at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas that he'll wind up fighting undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford next year.

If that occurred, it would be a massive fight, one of the few fights in the sport that would seem certain to surpass 1 million pay-per-view sales.

Crawford said he'd be open to facing Alvarez during an appearance on "The Joe Rogan Experience." And while Alvarez, who at 168 pounds competes in a class with a weight limit 21 pounds higher than where Crawford does, initially said such a fight didn't make sense, now he's apparently changed his mind.

In an interview with BoxingScene, Alvarez wasn't exactly begging for the bout, but he didn't dismiss it out of hand.

"You never know in boxing," Alvarez said. "I will go up and down and fight everybody out there. So, it's possible. Why not? It's possible. If it makes sense, I am down to do it. I don't care who is there. I am always able to fight everybody.”

Boxing is in the midst of one of its greatest years in decades. There are regularly big fights and no longer does one's promoter and/or broadcast network dictate who can fight.

That became the case in the 1990s after an incredible decade of the 1980s, when there were not only dozens of elite fighters, but they all fought each other. Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvelous Marvin Hagler all fought each other, many of them extraordinary bouts. So, too, did Alexis Arguello and Aaron Pryor. The list goes on.

But somehow, things morphed in the 1990s and it started to become increasingly difficult to get the big fights made. If one fighter was affiliated with HBO and another with Showtime, that fact in and of itself would kill many potentially great fights.

Managers at the time took on the attitude of protecting records at all costs, and so they didn't want to have their stars fight other stars of similar or greater magnitude for fear of what a loss would mean.

What they didn't get in those days is that fans didn't care all that much about who won or lost those superfights, as long as the athletes competed hard. What they wanted to see was a pair of elite fighters with significant stakes meet each other.

It should never have been a secret, either. The Super Bowl regularly attracts over 100 million viewers in the U.S. because it's the two best teams playing on one night with everything at stake. The NFL is infinitely more popular in the U.S. than boxing, but that doesn't obscure the larger point: In sports, there is nothing as fun as No. 1 versus No. 2.

Alvarez deserves a lot of credit for the shift in thinking. He's not the only one, but since his earliest days when he was working with Golden Boy Promotions, he's always taken the attitude that if it makes dollars, it makes sense.

The fight with Charlo isn't as anticipated as some of Alvarez's other fights, but it is the best fight he could take at the time. He sought a rematch with Dmitriy Bivol, who won a decision over Alvarez in Las Vegas on May 7, 2022, in a light heavyweight title bout. When he determined he couldn't reach a deal with Bivol for a rematch, he pivoted and signed with the Premier Boxing Champions, a company that promotes Jermell and Jermall Charlo, David Benavidez, David Morrell and others who would make potentially significant fights with Alvarez.

Alvarez has earned extraordinarily large purses for many of these big fights, and he'll never have to work another day in his life when he's done boxing if he doesn't choose to do so.

Terence Crawford celebrates his defeat of Errol Spence Jr. after their undisputed welterweight championship boxing match, Saturday, July 29, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford said on 'The Joe Rogan Experience' he'd love to fight undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez. (John Locher/AP)

Don't think that other fighters didn't notice what was happening, and more significantly, why Alvarez was earning those big purses. Super lightweight contender Ryan Garcia was teammates with Alvarez before leaving trainer Eddy Reynoso and had a chance to get an inside view of the inner workings of Team Alvarez.

He is the guy largely responsible for getting the April superfight with Gervonta Davis made. Garcia called out Davis, and refused to allow his team to do anything but focus on getting the fight made. It turned out to be a huge financial success that sold more than 1.2 million pay-per-views and had a gate of over $20 million.

There was no momentum for a Davis-Garcia fight until Garcia began talking about it and almost willed it into existence. Davis was already a star, but his performance in the ring and at the box office that night vaulted him to an even higher level.

There are plenty of great fights to come, and the only fight that fans are desperate to see that seems unlikely at this stage is a bout for the undisputed heavyweight title between WBC/lineal champion Tyson Fury and unified champion Oleksandr Usyk.

The sport's hardcore fight fans are almost giddy, though, about the success thus far in putting big fights together in 2023, and they're not complaining as much about the failure to make Fury-Usyk.

That's because so many fighters, managers, promoters and broadcast entities have taken note of Alvarez's formula for success and done the same thing.

And so, no matter who you'll be rooting for when Alvarez meets Charlo on Sept. 30, send a little thanks Alvarez's way when he makes his walk to the ring. Applaud a little harder if you are among the fortunate to see the fight live when he's making his entrance, because without Canelo Alvarez and his attitude, this brilliant year wouldn't be happening.