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Sources: Alvarez-Plant finalizing title fight deal

Canelo Alvarez is inching toward his goal of collecting all four titles at 168 pounds.

Alvarez, boxing’s biggest star, and Caleb Plant are in the process of finalizing a deal for a Sept. 18 bout in Las Vegas — a PBC on Fox pay-per-view — that will crown an undisputed super middleweight champion, multiple sources tell ESPN. Canelo, a promotional and network free agent, was offered a one-fight deal with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions that will likely net Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) a career-high guaranteed payday.

He earned $35 million guaranteed for three fights with DAZN and nearly $40 million for the rematch with Gennadiy Golovkin. Alvarez’s last three matchups were promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport. It’s unclear whether Hearn will be involved in the promotion of this fight. The Mexican star is coming off an eight-round stoppage win over Billy Joe Saunders, where he inflicted a fully fractured orbital bone on the English boxer that required surgery.

That Cinco De Mayo weekend victory was in the midst of extraordinary in-ring activity for a boxer of Alvarez’s stature. Superstar fighters routinely fight just twice a year, and that used to be the case for Alvarez. His two dates have traditionally been Cinco De Mayo weekend and Mexican Independence Day weekend in September. Yet he also fought in December, a decision win over Callum Smith to claim the unified 168-pound championship, and stayed busy with a third-round TKO of Avni Yildirim in February. The bout with Plant will be Alvarez’s fourth in nine months.

Alvarez is ESPN’s No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer (and its No. 1 at 168 pounds). He has won titles at 154 pounds, 160 and 175 and has won every fight since his draw with GGG in 2018. His focus has been on a fight with Plant, but a Plan B option that was explored would pit him against light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol on DAZN. A deal with Haymon, even for only one fight, would be a major coup for PBC, the organization that has network deals with Fox and Showtime.

Haymon’s three-year deal with Fox expires later this year but includes a network option for a fourth year, per sources. A fight between Alvarez and Plant would be sandwiched between two other major PPV fights: Manny Pacquiao-Errol Spence Jr. on Aug. 21 (Fox) and Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder on Oct. 9 (ESPN+/Fox).

PBC boasts the deepest stable of talent in boxing but isn’t nearly as top heavy as Top Rank; six of the top eight fighters on ESPN’s pound-for-pound list are promoted by Bob Arum. Spence is the lone PBC fighter in that group.

Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) is a box-office bonanza no matter whom he fights, but he hasn’t been able to flex his proverbial muscle on PPV in three years. His past three bouts were offered on pay-per-view, but that wasn’t a major revenue driver since they were available for substantially less money as part of a monthly subscription to DAZN.

Alvarez’s two fights with Golovkin both generated more than 1 million PPV buys; his 2013 matchup with Floyd Mayweather pushed past 2 million.

Plant, of course, isn’t nearly as well-known as either of those stars, but there’s reason to believe he’ll make for a commercially viable foil for Alvarez. The 29-year-old has headlined on Fox in three consecutive fights and isn’t shy when it comes to boasting about his talent and dedication to the sport.

A self-professed gym rat, the boxer from Nashville possesses one of boxing’s best jabs. He also owns lightning-quick hands and excellent footwork to go along with a powerful frame for the 168-pound division at 6-foot-1.

What Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) has lacked is top-flight opposition. His best opponent was Jose Uzcategui in Plant’s title-winning effort. He also has had hand issues, including in his most recent victory.

The fight with Alvarez will see Plant rise several levels in class. He, too, will earn a career-high payday (by multiple millions). Although he hasn’t been tested, he has looked the part in all his fights and is rated No. 3 at 168 pounds by ESPN.

After Alvarez picked up a third title in May in front of more than 70,000 fans in Arlington, Texas, he delivered a message to Plant: “I’m coming, my friend.”

It’s almost time.

ESPN Boxing

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EltasZone Sportswriters, Sports Analysts, Opinion columnists, editorials and op-eds. Analysis from The Zone Team
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