Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez wants to fight Gennady Golovkin -- the question is when

Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez said he plans to fight three times this year, including his first World Boxing Council middleweight title defense May 7 against England’s Amir Khan. There’s great intrigue about who will follow.

Unbeaten two-belt middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin has a mandate from the WBC that if Alvarez beats Khan, the 25-year-old “Canelo” has to begin negotiations for a bout with Golovkin by May 22. The belt goes to Golovkin if he doesn’t.

And Manny Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, has said that if the record eight-division world champion opts to reconsider the retirement he announced Saturday night, Alvarez could materialize as a foe.

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Asked if it’d be possible to fight both Pacquiao and Golovkin this calendar year, Alvarez’s lead trainer, Eddy Reynoso, joked, “Sure. Then Mike Tyson?”

But Alvarez, in an interview with The Times before a workout at his gym here Monday, said that after meeting Khan (31-3) at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in an HBO pay-per-view bout, he’s planning to fight again on Mexican Independence Day weekend in September, then in mid-December.

“That’s my goal. We’ll go fight by fight and hope everything goes well ... that’s the game plan,” Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 knockouts) said. “Our focus right now is Amir Khan. Everything else is rumors. Fighting Manny Pacquiao in the future -- there’s possibilities it could happen. But whatever happens in the future happens in the future.

“At the moment, I’m not worried about [Golovkin]. My focus is Amir Khan.”

Alvarez’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, and Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, have each met with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and a Alvarez-Golovkin fight was discussed at each session.

“Maybe,” Alvarez said when asked about a possible super-bout at massive Cowboys Stadium. “Of course I want the fight. It’s one of those fights I really want, but right now the focus is Amir Khan.”

De La Hoya has said it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when,” for Alvarez-Golovkin, after stiking a deal with Loeffler late last year to delay an earlier fight-or-get-stripped WBC mandate.

Though boxing fans yearn for the bout to be made as quickly as possible -- Golovkin is set to fight Dominic Wade on April 23 at the Forum, televised by HBO -- business sense and astute boxing observation are also believed to be in play.

One aspect is the idea of allowing more of the general sporting public to become aware that an attractive showdown is coming. Golovkin had just 75,000 pay-per-view buys for his October title unification victory over Canada’s David Lemieux at a sold-out Madison Square Garden in New York.

At the same time, the fact that the Kazakhstan fighter is riding a 21-fight knockout streak makes it in the best interest of Alvarez to maximize his readiness with additional fights and training.

Loeffler said Monday he’s taken measures in case Alvarez won’t agree to fight Golovkin next. On Saturday, Loeffler watched Mexico’s Gilberto Ramirez win the World Boxing Organization super-middleweight belt at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and said Golovkin could opt to fight for that belt in the fall if Alvarez seeks more time.

Alvarez might take some criticism for pausing before Golovkin, but those in his camp argue that such a decision would not qualify as ducking given their fighter’s history of not shying from complicated challenges. He fought veteran former champions Carlos Baldomir and Shane Mosley before turning 21, lost to unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. at 22, then gained victories over complex Cuban Erislandy Lara, brawlers Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland and the distinguished four-division veteran champion Miguel Cotto in November.

Khan, a former junior-welterweight champion who’s never fought above the welterweight limit of 147 pounds, will fight Alvarez at a 155-pound catch-weight, intending to use his punching and foot speed to pose problems for “Canelo,” as Mayweather did in 2013.

Golden Boy Promotions said 14,000 seats are already sold for the bout, with full promotion beginning this week.

“This fight will be very interesting, and every fight after this for ‘Canelo’ is going to be an interesting fight,” said Alvarez’s assistant trainer, Chepo Reynoso. “He’s at a different level of fighters. Top, elite fighters will challenge him. They’ll all be good, so we have to be ready and keep improving -- step by step, little by little -- to stay on top.”

Eddy Reynoso said he hasn’t told De La Hoya that Alvarez is not ready for Golovkin. “The fight will eventually happen, but these big, pay-per-view fights take time to negotiate the deal. They’re not easy to make,” Eddy Reynoso said.

“The people need to understand that. But it will happen down the line. These are two big fighters who need to keep winning so they can meet one day. At the right time and place, they’ll be ready.”

This is the first of a three-part series from Alvarez’s training camp in San Diego, with the next articles to appear Wednesday and Thursday.

Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire


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