CANELO ALVAREZ could be boxing’s first star name to return to the ring as the sport comes out of the coronavirus shutdown. That’s the hope of Golden Boy Promotions as they begin to bring back their shows.

If Canelo is to box on September 12 it would be without spectators. “Right now we’re discussing a possible September return for him. It would have to be with no fans but there is the possibility of doing that type of show but it would be up to Canelo. It would be up to him to decide whether he wants to do that or if he wants to wait until fans are allowed back in. So we’re discussing it with him now and we hope to have some sort of information, announcement in the next couple of weeks,” Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy told Boxing News.

A third fight with Gennady Golovkin will not happen without a live gate. “Not now, it wouldn’t make sense to do that. It’s not good business to do that at this time. But there are some other top fighters that are available that we’re looking into,” Gomez explained. “There’s one or two [world champions] that are [available], that we’re considering. The usual guys that are always up there, the top fighters. He likes to fight top fighters, as he’s shown throughout his career, so it makes no difference now we’re in a pandemic. He wants the top guys, we’ll see what happens.”

It will be Alvarez that chooses his next move. “The thing about Canelo is he’s always training, he’s always doing some sort of exercise. He maintains himself fairly well. So he’s eager just like all the fighters are eager to come back. Obviously we have to take the proper precautions and make him feel comfortable,” Gomez said. “Those are the details that we’re going over with him now and if he feels at the end of the day that he wants to go through with doing a show during a pandemic then we’re going to do that.

Canelo Alvarez
Hogan Photos

“We’ll see if that’s something he wants to entertain, if that’s something he wants to do. And if not we’ll wait until he feels comfortable to be able to come back and have a fight again,” he added. “At the end of the day it’ll be Canelo’s decision, what he wants to do, but there are some good fights that can be made.

“I think that people at home would really enjoy it and they’ll tune in to see a Canelo fight even more so now because the lack of boxing, the lack of big-name fighters fighting, so it would be something that’s very attractive.”

It would be highly significant for DAZN, Golden Boy’s broadcaster. Reliant on live sport, the network has understandably taken a hit during the shutdown of sport. “They’re bullish about the future,” Gomez said. “They’re committed.

“They’re in it for the long run and we feel confident that they’re going to be able to bounce back. We’re hoping for a huge, huge year next year because there’s going to be an appetite now for big sports and for big-time fights and we’re excited for that. We’ve just got to get past this storm that we’re going through right now but it can’t be a storm forever.”

Golden Boy schedule gets underway on July 24 with Vergil Ortiz boxing Samuel Vargas at the Forum in Inglewood. “He’s a great talent. The sky’s the limit with Vergil, he’s a complete fighter,” Gomez enthused. “He impresses me every time out. He’s doing things that some of the world champions do, with the speed, with angles, setting up the punches. He’s got a tremendous jab. I think he’s got all the tools to be not just a champion but a great champion.”

But it has been a challenge to return. “It’s difficult matching these fighters. There’s a lot of fighters that took time off and are just not ready. There’s other fighters that are afraid to go back to the gym because of the virus and then there’s fighters that contracted the virus and they had the virus. So the matchmaking has been very, very difficult. It’s been tough. But we’ve been able to manage. A lot of the international fighters can’t travel in because a lot of the borders are closed. So that’s been difficult and obviously the protocols and guidelines that we’re going to have to follow to be able to do these shows are extensive, they’re very extensive. But we have a great team at Golden Boy, everybody’s working very hard. It’s important to do the shows. It’s important to give the fans some excitement, some hope. And that’s what we plan to do,” the Golden Boy president said. “We’re living in uncertain times. You can prepare as much as you want but things happen. We’ve tested all of our fighters already and they’ve all been negative but from now till then, anything can happen. They’re in contact, it’s hard to not have contact with the outside world… We’re taking all the precautions, we’re doing everything we’re supposed to be doing but it still doesn’t ensure that everything’s going to go perfect. But again, we’re going to do our best and follow all the protocols and get the show going.”

They are also currently in negotiations to match Ryan Garcia with Britain’s Luke Campbell, a bout the WBC has mandated. Garcia’s team have said they want to go the WBC route and fight Campbell. “Luke Campbell’s the guy that Ryan chose,” Gomez said. “That’s the guy that he’s wanted to fight, he’s named him a couple of times. Now we’re going to get to see that fight. They’ve ordered us to start negotiations so we’re going to do that with Matchroom, they represent Campbell and hopefully we can come to an agreement and we can make the fight happen… It’s a good fight but that’s the kind of fight that Ryan wants, he’s been very vocal about wanting those types of fight and we’re excited for him. We’re excited for him to finally get the fights that he wants.

“Luke’s a tough customer, he is a legitimate contender. He gave Jorge Linares all he could handle, he came back at the end of that fight and I think Jorge won the fight because of a knockdown. That’s the only reason he won the fight, that was a very close fight. He put on a good performance against Lomachenko so he’s a legitimate fighter with experience. He’s been in there with some pretty big names.”

Floyd Mayweather
Oscar De La Hoya is long past his fighting prime

Another star name remains in Golden Boy’s orbit, even if it’s hard to imagine him returning to the ring. Oscar De La Hoya, the founder of the company, is training and hinting at an unlikely return. De La Hoya is 47 years old. He hasn’t boxed in 12 years and last time he did he suffered a painfully one-sided loss to Manny Pacquiao. He would be in no condition to box again. “I would want him to stay retired. I’m not for him fighting but he’s a grown man and he does have skillsets that most fighters don’t have,” Gomez cautioned. “He’s started a workout routine and he’s starting to feel really good. I think [Conor] McGregor called him out and it got the juices flowing a little bit. Look, if he continues to work out and feels great and the right fight comes around, I can see him doing something. I can see him fighting again. It just really depends, it depends on the situation, it depends on who, and what kind of deal can be made. But for right now he’s concentrating on his fitness and getting in shape again and he’s starting to feel really really good. It’s motivating him. It’s a motivating factor for him.

“It really depends on who it is. If it’s McGregor or any of the other MMA guys I think he can handle them. I really do. It’s a sport. It’s very, very different and he’s got these techniques and skills that have been ingrained for many, many years. It takes time to be able to have those skillsets and I think that if it’s against one of those guys then yes he can compete. He can compete and I think he can beat them. But if it’s against any of the top guys that are boxers, I don’t think it would be a good benefit for him.”

These are unprecedented times, and they may yet get stranger still.