Canelo vs. Plant: Can unification be salvaged?

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Joseph Herron Updated
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On Tuesday, July 27, boxing fans received the unfortunate news that a once assumed "done deal" between Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Caleb Plant suddenly fell apart at the "eleventh hour", leaving the projected September 18 unification contest all but dead in the water.

According to Mike Coppinger of ESPN, Canelo Alvarez and Plant's adviser, Al Haymon, reached an impasse, regarding a few added stipulations from the sport's biggest attraction.

Plant described the specific demands from Canelo as "ridiculous requests."

"If I get injured or sick then he gets a late replacement for the same amount of guaranteed money, but if he gets sick or injured, then we gotta wait for him," the Nashville native reportedly told ESPN on Tuesday afternoon.

Upon completion of the most crucial aspects of the one-fight agreement, like generating the mammoth $50 million guaranteed purse for both competing fighters, it seems rather absurd that such a lucrative deal could be KO'd so quickly by way of a hypothetical request.

Were Canelo's demands enough to walk away from a multi-million dollar agreement?

In all fairness, unless fans and reporters are privy to all proposed terms and stipulations, we genuinely can't say intelligently or absolutely. Critics of both parties would be wise to consider this before casting aspersions or blame.

Unfortunately, anyone who closely follows the sport knows that nothing will keep its most ardent fans from throwing stones.

Going back to the aforementioned "replacement guarantee" scenario...is Saul's demand really that absurd or difficult to understand?

Not really.

Alvarez believes it's important to respect the Mexican Independence date of Sept 18th. Remember, missing that date in 2019 is what seemingly caused the highly publicized tension between the Mexican favorite and GBP, ultimately resulting in a nasty divorce less than a year later.

It's understood by most promoters and fans that the two most important PPV dates in boxing are Cinco de Mayo weekend and Mexican Independence Day weekend in September. Haymon should be fully aware of this after working with Floyd "Cinco de" Mayweather for so many years.

Canelo's request was merely a guarantee that he would be competing on the revered September fight date with or without Caleb Plant.

No offense to the current IBF champion, but most mainstream and casual observers would be tuning in to see Alvarez compete on the highly regarding Mexican holiday weekend anyway; not the Nashville-based fighter.

And wasn't that the most important part of this deal anyway? To get Canelo on PBC/FOX? Isn't that what Haymon ultimately wanted for his fall PPV schedule on the influential network?

I guess not.

All of this seems ludicrous to most fans and critics of the sport. Especially those who remember when fighters would jump at the chance to compete against the biggest name in boxing.

Strangely enough, it wasn't that long ago.

Did everyone forget that Marcos Maidana made $3 million to Floyd's $32 million for their unification bout on "Cinco de Mayweather" of 2014? Chino didn't complain and had no problem giving the biggest attraction in boxing his just due. Amazing how things have seemingly changed in just seven years.

He and manager Sebastian Contursi were ecstatic that Mayweather chose Maidana over popular Briton Amir Khan, and jumped at the opportunity to face the best fighter in boxing on the biggest stage of the sport...everything else was a mere formality.

But did Maidana have to deal with any "ridiculous requests" from Money May in May of 2014?

Probably. We are talking about Floyd Mayweather after all. More than likely, Chino was probably issued a "take it or leave it" offer to face Money May after successfully lifting the WBA Welterweight title from Adrien Broner in December of 2013.

Thankfully, Maidana and his team chose to "take it".

Because every mainstream and casual sports fan tuned in to see Floyd either defeat an overmatched fighter or get beaten by anyone, Mayweather's selected opponent was somewhat of a moot point unless his name was Pacquiao or Alvarez. Whomever his dance partner was going to be that evening was of little to no consequence to anyone outside of the die-hard fight community.

Similar situation with Canelo when facing a relative unknown among mainstream audiences like Caleb Plant.

Alvarez is the overwhelming box office draw here, not the native of Nashville, Tennessee.

Of course, there was the "MX Everlast" glove issue, in which Floyd took exception to the horsehair-filled gloves Team Maidana selected for their first meeting. But that pre-fight quandary took place the day before the scheduled fight, and well after all items had already been contractually agreed upon.

Both men eventually settled their disagreement just hours before showtime, resulting in Floyd giving Chino $1.5 million to wear Lucas Matthysse's extra pair of Everlast Powerlock gloves...yes, the same make and model the fellow Argentine used to bludgeon John Molina Jr. just three weeks prior.

It boils down to this: If Haymon really wants Canelo Alvarez to compete on FOX, and not deprive his IBF champion of the opportunity to earn a career-high payday of $10 million against the biggest star in boxing, he will succumb to the demands of the Cinnamon Boy.

As ridiculous as they may seem to Caleb Plant, this is an opportunity he may never see again.

Occasions like these don't come around very often for a prizefighter. How many times does a hungry young boxer receive the chance to take on "The recognized Man" of the sport at his apex of popularity?

Given the fact that Plant isn't so young anymore, at age 29, is time really still on his side? He and his handlers would be foolish to let this one slip through their fingers.

According to all boxing purists and die-hard enthusiasts of the sport, the chance to catch greatness is priceless and stretches far beyond dollars and cents. Quite honestly, most fans have become disgusted at the mere mention of purse amounts, contract disputes, and various other conditions which seem to consistently keep the best from facing the best in boxing.

Memo to Al Haymon, Eddy Reynoso, Caleb Plant and Canelo Alvarez:

Fans want to be inspired, and are always looking for reasons to brag about their beloved boxing. All parties involved with the entire Canelo/Plant negotiation should want to give them motive to love the sport...not turn away from it.

You've come this far. It would be a genuine shame to allow a mere contract stipulation made by boxing's biggest prima donna to detour this historic, undisputed unification at 168 pounds.

Rationalize why you SHOULD make this fight happen, guys...not why you shouldn't.

 

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