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Will Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin 2 be the last big fight ever on HBO?

In Episode 2 on the new Pound for Pound series, follow Los Angeles Times reporter Lance Pugmire as he prepares for the rematch between Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin.

Boxing industry experts are eagerly waiting to see what will transpire in the aftermath of Saturday’s HBO pay-per-view bout between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, because representatives for each fighter said this bout is the last on their contracts with the network.

With television free-agency before them, Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 knockouts) and Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) are poised to cash in at a time when the competition for elite boxing talent is more intense than ever.

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Beyond HBO’s interest in retaining its last two major stars, ESPN and its streaming arm, ESPN+, would crave landing Golovkin, with a possible bout in Japan against Ryota Murata in the offing. Fox launched a deal with Premier Boxing Champions that includes pay-per-view, and PBC recently extended its deal with Showtime, which previously broadcast Alvarez bouts.

There also should be keen interest from promoter Eddie Hearn and his new streaming service DAZN, which launches with heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s title defense against Alexander Povetkin on Sept. 22.

Alvarez, should he emerge healthy from Saturday’s rematch with Golovkin, plans to fight again Dec. 15, according to his promoter, Golden Boy, with New York’s Madison Square Garden a possible destination. Many expect the opponent to be the winner of Saturday’s pay-per-view undercard bout between former middleweight champion David Lemieux and charismatic Irishman Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan.

The steady decline of HBO as a boxing network has led to this moment, in which even network officials are unsure if Saturday’s event will be their final major fight after more than 40 years in the sport, and most recently drawing 1.3-million viewers for Golovkin’s May knockout of Vanes Martisrosyan at StubHub Center.

“My gut feel a few years ago is coming to fruition,” said one industry insider who requested anonymity. “I could feel this was going on, that this [HBO] is an entertainment channel, not a sports channel, and they were more interested in competing with NetFlix and Hulu than staging fights.”

MUNGUIA: FUTURE STAR?

In Saturday’s co-main event, WBO light-middleweight champion Jaime Munguia (30-0, 25 KOs) fights for the fifth time this year while meeting Brandon Cook (20-1) in his second title defense.

“I’m made for this — for fighting often,” said Munguia, 21. “I’m made for this and more.”

Munguia is being built up by his promoter, Fernando Beltran, for a possible showdown with Alvarez.

“It’s much better if I take that fight in one or two years so I can continue to correct my mistakes, but if they offer me the fight, I’ll take it right away,” Munguia said.

Earlier this year he agreed to replace Alvarez as Golovkin’s May opponent in Las Vegas, but the Nevada Athletic Commission ruled he was too inexperienced. Munguia acknowledges he’s still striving to complement his undeniable power punching with more boxing skill.

“My defense, my legs, my speed — I wasn’t happy with them” in defeating former 154-pound champion Liam Smith on July 21, Munguia said. “Working in the gym, I corrected those things.”

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RAMIREZ REMAINS UNBEATEN

Jose Ramirez defended his junior welterweight title with a unanimous decision over Antonio Orozco on Friday night before a home crowd in Fresno.

Ramirez (23-0, 16 KOs) won by scores of 119-107 on all three scorecards in the nationally televised main event.

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