Eddie Hearn is saying that May 2 is still the target date for the Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders fight in Las Vegas but the coronavirus situation could delay the announcement. The terms have been agreed on for the Canelo vs. Saunders fight, and they’re just waiting for Alvarez’s promoters at Golden Boy Promotions to announce the fight next week.
The recent cancellations of cards as a result of COVID 19 critics is what Hearn believes is causing Golden Boy to hesitate in announcing the Canelo vs. Saunders fight.Unfortunately for Golden Boy, it’s still too early to know if the coronavirus problem will go away by the time of the Canelo vs. Saunders fight on May 2.
What could potentially prevent Canelo and Saunders fighting in May is the Nevada State Athletic Commission reportedly set to suspend combat sports in the state until March 25. At that time, they could very well extend the suspension into April or even later. Given the state of things in Nevada, Golden Boy Promotions would be wise to start looking for a new venue in another state or country that doesn’t have a ban in place for combat sports.
May 2 STILL target date for Canelo-Saunders
“The terms for that fight have been agreed,” said Hearn to Behind The Gloves on the Canelo vs. Billy Joe Saunders fight. “The danger is it was supposed to have been announced today. But obviously, what happened in America today [with cancelations], they thought, ‘Let’s just wait until next week.’ I believe May 2nd is still the target for that fight, but that can get taken out of their hands.
“It’s not going to be a Golden Boy decision, and it’s not going to be a Matchroom decision,” Hearn said of announcing Canelo vs. Saunders. “It’s just going to be, ‘We are canceling the events. Tough.’ We don’t know in the UK what comes,” said Hearn.
The troubling part about the Alvarez vs. Billy Joe fight being announced for the May 2 date is it could wind up being postponed. It’s true, of course, that boxing fans can get a refund for their ticket purchases, but a lot of people will hold off purchasing them if they’re not sure about whether the fights going to happen.
It would be surprising if Golden Boy chooses to go ahead with the Canelo-Billy Joe fight for May 2 in Las Vegas. Unless they’re determined to stage the fight in that place for some reason, it would be a better idea to stage Canelo’s fights in a different state or country that doesn’t have a ban on combat sports.
Usyk-Chisora can’t take place behind closed doors
“Is it there only shows with less than 5,000 people, only shows with 1,000 people, and then you’ve got stuff behind closed doors,” said Hearn. You don’t do Chisora-Usyk behind closed doors. You don’t do Joshua-Pulev behind closed doors. You might do a show that has sold three or four thousand behind closed doors, because the fighters have got to fight, and the broadcasters need content.
“There are big opportunities that will come out of this for businesses across all sectors. They’re saying 50% of the time, you can have no symptoms [of the coronavirus]. How bad is it? Don’t go in a panic mode where life stops, because in three or four months from now, your life isn’t going to be in a great place,” said Hearn.
Heavyweights Oleksandr Usyk and Dereck Chisora are scheduled to fight on May 23 at the O2 Arena in London, UK. Hearn is expecting a huge crowd for that event, and he wants to add a big undercard to it.
Given the amount of money that can be made at the gate from ticket sales, it’s understandable why Hearn doesn’t want to put that card behind closed doors in the UK. But also, the undercard fighters will be expensive. Hearn wants to together a great undercard, and he can’t do that without gate money.
Hearn surprised Usyk agreed to Chisora fight
“I didn’t think he’d fight Chisora,” said Hearn about Oleksandr Usyk. “I want him to fight, and give him the best fight possible. I was expecting him to say, ‘what about Gerald Washington?’ One of these guys that everyone seems to fight like Bryant Jennings. I was like ‘Chisora,’ and he was ‘At the O2?’
“When he fought [Tony] Bellew, he really wanted to box at the O2. We went to Manchester, and he was like, ‘I really wanted to box at the O2.’ For what he’s gambling here as far as the Joshua fight and the numbers, it’s quite unique.
“When you look at his career and go back to fighting Michael Hunter in America, Briedis in a unification in Latvia, Marco Huck in Germany, Gassiev in an undisputed in Russia, Tony Bellew in Manchester, and now Chisora at the O2. He’s unbelievable. He doesn’t get the credit that he deserves. He’s mandatory [to WBO champion Anthony Joshua],” said Hearn.
Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) is confident that he can beat the 36-year-old Chisora, and that’s obviously the reason why he’s willing to take the fight. You’re not hearing Usyk call out Dillian Whyte, Daniel Dubois, Joseph Parker or Andy Ruiz Jr.
Those would be a lot tougher fights for the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk, and he has too much to lose if he gets beaten. As the WBO mandatory to Anthony Joshua, Usyk will be set for life financially when/if he gets his title shot against AJ. Chisora is a risky fight for Usyk, but he’s someone that can be out-boxed, as we’ve seen in the past. Kubrat Pulev, Agit Kabayel, and Tyson Fury all dominated Chisora with their boxing skills.
Chisora will get title shot if he beats Usyk
“David Haye said to me, ‘He’s [Usyk] is the mandatory. Do we become the mandatory?’ I’ve asked the question to the WBO,” said Hearn. “Not necessarily but he will be #1. But more than that, if Chisora beats Usyk, Chisora is going to get a world title shot anyway because he’s going to be publically, they’re going to say, ‘You gotta have it.’
“First, this fight was going to be March 7th, and then it was going to be March 28th. March 28th was a solid date. I’m so happy that it’s not because we got a show on that date, and that’s 50-50 right now, I reckon. Chisora is a tough son of a b—, especially when you’re unproven at heavyweight. That’s the remarkable thing about this.
“It’s not even like they chose a slightly smaller heavyweight or one that doesn’t punch very hard or one that doesn’t have a very good chin. We know that Usyk is going to outbox Chisora, but is he going to keep him off him? We saw in the Witherspoon fight, and that’s a much lower level than Chisora.
“There were a couple of times where we thought, ‘Oh.’ This is another kettle of fish. They [Chisora] think they’re going to win. Haye said to me, ‘I can’t believe he’s [Usyk] taking this fight. I can’t believe it. He’s got the golden ticket [WBO mandatory to get Joshua fight], and we’re going to take it off him.’ So I can’t wait for this fight,” said Hearn.
It’s a no-brainer that Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs) will get a title shot against IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua if he beats Usyk. It doesn’t matter if the World Boxing Organization doesn’t make Chisora the mandatory if he beats Usyk. Hearn will make sure that Joshua gives Chisora a title shot, and why wouldn’t he? Chisora is one of Hearn’s fighters in his Matchroom Boxing stable, and he’s popular with the British public.
Hearn concerned with cards being canceled
“From a boxing point of view, yesterday in the States we saw six shows get canceled,” said Hearn. “I talked to Bob Arum yesterday and he said, ‘We’re going to go behind closed doors’ and then a few hours later they were canceled as well. For us, everything is out of our hands. We’re only dictated to by the government. Once they say it’s off, it’s off.
“Right now, it’s all on. My biggest concern is the shorter stuff because the panic is ridiculous,” said Hearn on the Coronavirus crisis. “Joshua is 11 weeks away. I’m hoping by then that everyone is sort of over the worst of it. For me, the stuff is at greater risk [of being canceled] is March 28th, April 4th, maybe April 17. The further away something is right now, the less the risk.
“We don’t know. That might change. My thoughts are the stuff on the short term might get pulled. You have to think that something in May or something in June will be okay, but we just don’t know. We just have to keep moving on with the business. Our main priorities are the public. We have to make sure we act in their best interest, which actually isn’t even our decision. We just get told.
“Secondly, it’s the fighters. You know what these guys go through. They train for 8, 9, 10 weeks. They don’t get paid to train. They get paid to fight. You saw yesterday Michael Conlan, Shakur Stevenson. They’ve been training for three months.
“They might not fight now until September, so it’s difficult for everybody. But it’s also a freak moment that we have to deal with in different ways. From a show perspective, if it gets canceled, it gets canceled. You get your money back, but for me, May and June are going to be alright,” said Hearn.
There’s a good chance that Hearn’s upcoming March 28 card is canceled by the government in the UK. That’s the David Avanesyan vs. Josh Kelly card. But as far as cards in April or May, it’s too early to know if those cards will wind up needing to be postponed.