For HBO to Generate Excitement over Canelo, They’ll have to Do Better than Clottey:
Showtime has worked hard to supplant HBO as the premier destination for boxing as of late, a result of both quality matchmaking, along with the extraordinarily lucrative six-fight deal that Floyd Mayweather signed with the network. Mayweather is edging closer to retirement and is also faced with a scarcity of opponents who could pose any sort of credible threat to his dominance. That said, it would appear the time is now ripe for another shift in power among the two networks, and this was further signaled when HBO announced that Canelo Alvarez would be moving to the network, with his return fight scheduled for December 6.
Granted, Canelo clearly is not the fighter that Mayweather is, as demonstrated by Mayweather’s easy victory against him. However, absent Mayweather and some guy named Manny Pacquiao, there may be no fighter in the world who can claim a fan base the size of Canelo’s. Alvarez is supremely talented, extraordinarily popular, and ready to accept the torch as the most popular fighter in the sport going forward. All of this is to say that Canelo’s move is a major coup for HBO, and fans immediately began thinking of the potential fights that could now be made with this move.
One of the most intriguing bouts that became possible would be to match Canelo with Miguel Cotto, who is coming off a dominant win over Sergio Martinez. Gennady Golovkin would present another interesting option, after what is likely to be another impressive victory over Marco Antonio Rubio in a few weeks. The possibilities seemed endless, and in his grand return to HBO, we’ve been given Canelo Alvarez versus… Joshua Clottey?
For Canelo’s move back to HBO to be the tide-turning event that they clearly wanted it to be, it is not unfair for fight fans to have hoped for more. To briefly recap Clottey’s career, the last meaningful victory he had was in 2008 when he defeated Zab Judah. That’s six years ago.
After losing to Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden in early 2009 (in a fight that many thought he won, in front of an overwhelmingly pro-Cotto crowd), he set himself up for a fight with Manny Pacquiao. In what might have been one of the worst PPV bouts I have ever witnessed, Clottey refused to engage for the vast majority of the fight, losing a unanimous decision.
After taking over a year and a half away from the sport following the Pacquiao disaster, Clottey has since bounced back with three consecutive wins. The only problem with this is that the only opponent of any consequence during this stretch was an aging Anthony Mundine, not nearly the type of result that should warrant Clottey being awarded a fight against Canelo Alvarez.
The bottom line is that Clottey has fought three times in the four years since the Pacquiao fight, a remarkable lack of activity for someone looking to reach top-level bouts again, and against unspectacular opposition. Given what we saw from Clottey against Pacquiao, I have no reason to believe that this fight will be any different, with Clottey realizing how mismatched he truly is, and then settling into a shell defense before cashing his check.
I don’t even necessarily take issue with Clottey as a fighter on his own. Rather, I take issue with the idea that HBO can rope in one of the most popular boxers in the sport today in Canelo Alvarez, and immediately match him with someone whose primary claim to fame is one of the least fan friendly PPV fights in recent history.
It’s the sort of awful fight that makes fans feel as though they are being taken for granted. Just in case I fall asleep when this one finally happens on December 6, wake me up when Alvarez signs on to fight Cotto.