Leading up to the start of the week, the rumors were swirling that Unified Middleweight Champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (53-1-2) would be facing Billy Joe Saunders (29-0) in a venue to be determined on Cinco de Mayo weekend. Monday came around and Oscar De La Hoya put a kibosh to those rumors by mentioning he had not spoken to Canelo about an opponent as of yet and had a scheduled meeting with him in Mexico in the coming days.
On Wednesday, SI senior writer Chris Mannix tweeted that representatives for Ryota Murata (16-2; below, photo from his Instagram) were “engaged in serious talks to stage a Canelo-Murata fight in Japan this spring.”
That certainly was a curve ball to most that follow the sport as Murata wasn’t a name that would come up when speaking of potential matchups for Canelo. It looks as though DAZN would want to keep the same Cinco de Mayo slot and will work out whatever time zone obstacles to make it happen. Although this was a head scratcher for most, this potential fight makes a lot sense for a few different reasons.
Canelo has been publicly mentioning that he has desires of fighting in other countries which in this case, he would be fighting someone who is recognized as a celebrity in Japan. Murata is a star in Japan and is pretty much a household name. His fights in Japan do huge viewership numbers and with DAZN signing that deal not too long ago with Softbank to acquire a whole host of their sporting rights, it only makes sense to put the streaming service’s biggest star, Canelo Alvarez, on that stage overseas. This will raise Canelo’s profile even more in another country almost instantaneously while further developing his global status as a international star.
The Tokyo Dome, which hosts some of the biggest events in Japan, will more than likely be the venue that hosts this fight which packs about 50,000 fans. Currently, this venue hosts huge wrestling events for New Japan Wrestling so it has all of the capabilities of carrying an event of this level. Also, the Toyko Olympics start in July so what better way to start those chain of events then by having a fight with huge star power.
With all of this potentially happening, I couldn’t help but imagine that this will also involve “KingRy” Ryan Garcia (19-0) who if successful in February, could possibly be matched up against Jorge Linares (46-5) as a co-main event for Canelo. So you ask yourself why does this make sense? It’s simple, Linares is not only with Golden Boy but also with Teiken Promotions who are based out of Toyko, Japan. Linares resides in Japan and has fought a good number of his fights there so it would be another familiar face that local fans would purchase tickets to go see. This would be a great opportunity for Ryan to get some of that international attention in an attempt to further solidify his stardom.
There are some other potential shoes dropping if this event is signed for May. If this deal is done soon, I would assume there will be some sort of big fight announcement from the PBC side come Wilder-Fury 2 fight week.
The pots are stirring, the whispers are getting louder and the smoke is getting thicker so let’s see what comes out of all of this.