Canelo Alvarez achieved a convincing victory and his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, underlined the significant leverage it gave to the newly crowned ninth three-division champion.
“Tonight was a great night for Canelo,” De La Hoya said, adding that the 28-year-old Mexican fighter showed he can fight at middleweight or super-middleweight. “Canelo has a target on his back and everybody wants to challenge him.”
That’s a thinly veiled code stressing that no possible future opponent, starting with the front-running International Boxing Federation middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs of Brooklyn, N.Y., is going to be able to press for too great of a purse given the expanded list of others Alvarez can now consider.
Alvarez (51-1-2, 35 knockouts), who owns two middleweight belts, added to his boxing lore by moving up to 168 pounds Saturday night and knocking down secondary World Boxing Assn. super-middleweight champion Rocky Fielding of England four times en route to a third-round technical-knockout victory.
Alvarez walked outside New York’s Madison Square Garden after his debut in the arena drew a sellout crowd of 20,112 and saw the building lighted by red, green and white streams, the colors of the Mexican flag.
Jacobs (35-2, 29 KOs), a former WBA middleweight champion who fought former champion and Alvarez rival Gennady Golovkin to a tightly contested loss by decision in 2017, is a free agent like Golovkin who could join Alvarez while fighting for the new streaming service DAZN or go to Premier Boxing Champions, where unbeaten but far lesser known middleweight Jermall Charlo resides.
“I’m waiting for this fight to end and to hear what’s said,” Jacobs said during Saturday’s broadcast. “If we can get a big fight with DAZN … I think I’m the perfect candidate.”
Since Alvarez has made it clear he’d rather wait until September to face Golovkin for a third time, Jacobs has the strongest case to fight the champion May 5 in Las Vegas. But De La Hoya didn’t offer any insight into who’s next at the postfight news conference.
“We’ve set aside T-Mobile Arena for Cinco de Mayo and we have no opponent whatsoever,” De La Hoya said. “As a team, collectively, we will decide. There are plenty of challenges. I will have an answer for you after the holidays. The pool has gotten bigger.”
De La Hoya vowed they’ll select a quality opponent, a claim that drew scrutiny only because the promoter previously seemed intent on selecting former middleweight champion David Lemieux, who withdrew from Saturday’s co-main event after falling ill cutting weight.
“Canelo has been fighting the top guys. Who else fought Golovkin back to back?” De La Hoya said. “Canelo has proven over and over he wants to fight the very best.”
Performing so strongly at 168 pounds while making the weight comfortably could keep Alvarez interested in other super-middleweight showdowns, including with two-belt champion Callum Smith, who, like Fielding, resides in Liverpool, England.
“We don’t know,” Alvarez said when asked whether the effectiveness of his power at 168 pounds means he’ll remain or return there. “Right now, we’ll enjoy our victory and see what happens after.”
Alvarez’s trainer, Eddy Reynoso, nodded yes when asked whether he expects Alvarez to meet Jacobs next, and that selection seems the wisest, given Jacobs’ strong reputation after overcoming cancer to become a world champion and his ability to sell a fight.
“That’s a good fight. I like that fight,” Golden Boy Promotions President Eric Gomez said. “But we’ve got to sit down and talk as a group like we always do.”
Dominating at 168 pounds “opens up opportunities, but I feel he gives up advantages moving up so high,” Gomez said.
The work elsewhere belongs to DAZN executives, who won’t divulge how much their $9.99 subscription numbers grew with Alvarez’s launch of his 11-fight, $365-million deal with the service.
Since the company, which also offers the fights of three-belt heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, needs to bring its base to at least 650,000 just to pay for two Alvarez fights per year, recruiting guys like Golovkin and Jacobs is crucial.
De La Hoya said he sat next to a DAZN executive who said he was “so motivated” by the Alvarez fight that he’ll “devote even more money into boxing.”
Said De La Hoya: “That was music to my ears. Boxing is more alive and well than it’s ever been. All of this man’s resources — he’s going to make any fight happen on his platform. I was very impressed.”
“We worked on a lot of things I needed to fix. I wanted to show I was determined to fight,” said Garcia, 20, who took note of Alvarez’s devotion to the grunt work of fight preparation.
“Just watching [Canelo] spar, you can see the mindset. You can see he never thinks he’s too good. He’s always working on traps, other things. It’s a process for me, and I want to savor every step.”