September traditionally features some of the biggest fights of the year involving some of the best boxers in the world.
For ages, the weekend closest to Mexican Independence Day was when Oscar De La Hoya would headline a pay-per-view. Then, when De La Hoya retired, Floyd Mayweather Jr. had the starring role. Both have since hung up their gloves. But that doesn’t mean Sept. 17, 2016, will be barren of big-time boxing.
That night, at AT&T Stadium in Texas, middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez will challenge 154-pound titleholder Liam Smith. But don’t let that be the only night you watch the fights in the coming weeks. After all, Alvarez is far the only notable name lacing ‘em up and dishing it out in September.
Here are some of the highlights:
Sept. 10 — A Day/Night Doubleheader to Remember
More boxing fans are finally getting a good look at the fighter whom hardcore fans had been raving about for years: flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez. They got a good look at him because Gonzalez has been featured on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin’s fights.
“Chocolatito” Gonzalez and “GGG” will be paired together for the fourth straight time on Sept. 10. This time will be a bit different. Golovkin (35-0, 32 knockouts) will fight live earlier in the day; he’ll be in London taking on Kell Brook (36-0, 25 KOs). Later that night, HBO will air Gonzalez’s fight against Carlos Cuadras.
Golovkin-Brook pits the best middleweight in the world against one of the best welterweights. There are those who see this fight as a mismatch, and there are those who wonder whether Brook’s skills and speed will be able to give Golovkin trouble. This fight could go one of three ways. It could look like Canelo’s one-punch destruction of Amir Khan this past May. It could be surprisingly competitive but still end with Golovkin winning. Or it could bring a massive upset, with Brook’s hands raised in the air and Golovkin’s hopes of fighting Alvarez going down the drain.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, will attempt to add on to his already stellar reputation. He was a heavy-hitting titleholder at 105 and 108 pounds. He is atop the 112-pound division. He’s often described as the best boxer in the world today, pound-for-pound. That’s because of his power, his speed, his technique, and his undefeated record (45-0, 38 KOs) as he continues to run through the lighter weight classes.
He’s moving up to 115 for this fight and challenging titleholder Carlos Cuadras, also undefeated at 35-0-1 (27 KOs). Cuadras won his belt in 2014 and is 5-0-1 in his defenses since. The draw came in a fight that ended early on a head butt; in the States, it would’ve been ruled a “no contest.”
Yet for all of the acclaim that Golovkin and Gonzalez deservedly receive, there’s another fight that deserves attention. Jesus Soto-Karass and Yoshihiro Kamegai had a highly enjoyable war in April. Their rematch will be on HBO underneath Cuadras-Gonzalez.
If their names are familiar, it’s because Soto-Karass (28-10-4, 18 KOs) is an experienced veteran who beat Andre Berto and lost battles with Keith Thurman and Marcos Maidana, while Kamegai (26-3-2, 23 KOs) lost in a brutal fight with Robert Guerrero back in 2014.
They may end up stealing the show.
Sept. 17 — Canelo’s Next Stop on the Road to Golovkin
When Canelo Alvarez knocked out Amir Khan, he called Gennady Golovkin to the ring afterward. That gave fans hope that Alvarez and Golovkin would be sharing the ring for real sometime soon.
Not so fast.
No deal could be made. The teams instead agreed that they would wait until later in 2017, letting their match build up even bigger. If that’s truly going to be the case, then Canelo’s fight with Liam Smith on pay-per-view is his next stop on the road to facing Golovkin, and it might be his final stop in the junior middleweight division.
Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KOs) hasn’t actually fought at 154 in three years, dating back to when he was 152 pounds for his loss to Mayweather. In all five of his fights since, he’s come in either at a contractually allowable 155 pounds or slightly below that.
Alvarez-Smith will be at 154 for Smith’s title, won last year against John Thompson and defended twice since against Kilrain Kelly and Predrag Radosevic. Smith (23-0-1, 13 KOs) will be taking a big step up when he faces Canelo. It’s likely that Canelo doesn’t see Smith as much of a threat.
After all, there’s talk that Alvarez would then go on to face Billy Joe Saunders for Saunders’ middleweight world title as early as this December. Canelo is already the lineal middleweight champion — he beat Miguel Cotto, who beat Sergio Martinez, who beat Kelly Pavlik, who beat Jermain Taylor, who beat Bernard Hopkins — but he’s never actually faced a true middleweight.
Saunders would be a start. And hopefully that would lead him to Golovkin next year.
On the undercard, Gabriel Rosado (23-9, 13 KOs) will try to keep his career afloat and go for three straight victories when he takes on Willie Monroe Jr. (20-2, 6 KOs). Both men have suffered losses to Gennady Golovkin. Featherweight contender Joseph Diaz Jr. (21-0, 12 KOs) will face Andrew Cancio (17-3-2, 13 KOs). And junior featherweight prospect Diego De La Hoya (15-0, 9 KOs) will meet Luis Del Valle (22-2, 16 KOs).
That’s The Big Stuff, But That’s Not All
Here’s what else to look for in the ninth month of the year:
– Daniel Jacobs fights on Sept. 9, the middleweight’s first appearance since he scored a stellar one-round technical knockout of Peter Quillin last December. Jacobs (31-1, 28 KOs) will have a rematch with Sergio Mora (28-4-2, 9 KOs), who suffered an ankle injury in a second-round stoppage loss to Jacobs in August 2015. This will be Mora’s first fight back.
– The Jacobs-Mora undercard will include a fight for a vacant lightweight title between Robert Easter (17-0, 14 KOs) and Richard Commey (24-0, 22 KOs). This one probably won’t last all 12 rounds.
– Although Roman Gonzalez is facing Carlos Cuadras, there’s another great 115-pounder who’s fighting in September. Naoya Inoue, a prodigy with a record of 10-0 (8 KOs), will defend his title against Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (38-7-1, 18 KOs) on Sept. 4 in Japan.
– Another excellent Japanese fighter, 118-pound titleholder Shinsuke Yamanaka, will have a rematch with Anselmo Moreno on Sept. 16, almost exactly a year after they first met. That bout ended with Yamanaka (25-0-2, 17 KOs) taking a close and controversial decision. Moreno (36-4-1, 12 KOs) had long held a title himself before a surprising defeat in 2014. His first fight with Yamanaka showed that the skilled boxer still had plenty left.
– Krzysztof Glowacki, the cruiserweight who came off the canvas to end Marco Huck’s long title reign last year, will defend his belt against Oleksandr Usyk on Sept. 17 in Poland. Glowacki won a decision over Steve Cunningham earlier this year to move to 26-0 (16 KOs). He’ll have a difficult challenge in Usyk. While he’s just 9-0 with 9 KOs as a pro, Usyk was a top amateur who won gold in the 2012 Olympics.
– Finally, there’s Donnie Nietes vs. Edgar Sosa on Sept. 24 in California. This one may fly under the radar because Nietes (38-1-4, 22 KOs) has fought nearly all his career in the Philippines and in the 105- and 108-pound divisions. He’s held world titles almost continuously since 2007. His only loss came in 2004, and even that may not have been deserved. Now he’s moving up to flyweight and facing Sosa (52-9, 30 KOs), who was bombed out in two rounds by Gonzalez last year but could still give Nietes a good introduction to the division.
It’s a shame Gonzalez might not come back down to welcome him. But if we end up with Nietes against Juan Francisco Estrada, that would be one heck of a consolation prize.