FINDING A REPLACEMENT

Boxing: The 5 most likely guys to stand in for Canelo against GGG

Gennady Golovkin will not be fighting Canelo on Cinco de Mayo. So who will it be? Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin is officially off. With two weeks to go until his hearing with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Canelo officially withdrew from the megafight yesterday, ending whatever slim hope remained of getting the two in the ring on Cinco de Mayo. But the show must go on for GGG and his team. Just hours after the fight cancellation, Golovkin announced via twitter that he would still fight on May 5 in Las Vegas. GGG promoter Tom Loeffler has told reporters that the bout will probably move to the smaller MGM Grand Garden Arena across the street from the T-Mobile Center, scheduled site of Canelo/Golovkin 2. But who will Golovkin fight with just a month’s worth of notice? Let’s take a look at some of the likely candidates.

JERMALL CHARLO

26-0, 20 KO

Why it should happen: Though not the big name Alvarez brings, most boxing purists believe Charlo brings the toughest test at middleweight to Golovkin outside of Canelo. This brash Houston native is a big talker in person and online. Jermall, along with his twin brother Jermell, have developed a wrestling heel like personna that would be easy to promote, even on short notice. Charlo made a name for himself at junior middleweight, where he won the IBF championship in 2016. He’s looked even better after moving up to middleweight, knocking out both challengers he’s faced. Charlo is WBC interim middleweight champion, so this fight would fill a mandatory defense necessary for Golovkin. Charlo is scheduled to fight a mandatory defense of his interim belt on April 21, so he should be in shape and ready to go; all he would need to do is withdraw from that fight.

Why it may not happen: Charlo is represented by boxing advisor Al Haymon, who does most of his work with Showtime. Golovkin fights exclusively on HBO and this fight has been promoted by HBO, having been scheduled for HBO pay per view. Haymon has occasionally done business with HBO fighters, but the negotiations usually take longer to come together than the shortened timeframe the two sides will have to get this fight ready.

DANNY JACOBS

33-2, 29 KO

Why it should happen: Jacobs has only lost one fight since 2010, and it was to Golovkin. The two had a spirited bout March of last year in which Golovkin won by scores of 115-112 (twice) and 114-113. After surviving an early knockdown Jacobs took Golovkin into what were the deepest waters of his career. Jacobs has been clamoring for a rematch ever since. Jacobs is signed with HBO, so the framework for a deal would be easy to make.

Why it may not happen: Despite being close, the first Jacobs fight wasn’t particularly interesting. The two fought too many close rounds, but the style matchup wasn’t particularly fan-friendly and running this one back just doesn’t seem necessary.

BILLY JOE SAUNDERS

26-0, 12 KO

Why it should happen: The slick, 28 year old southpaw holds the WBO middleweight championship belt; the only major middleweight belt not in Golovkin’s possession.GGG has repeatedly says he wants “all the belts” and that seemed to be his main goal until the payday of the Canelo fights came calling. True unified champions are rare, and this would be a nice storyline to sell. Saunders looked dazzling in an absolute washing of David Lemieux in December, so he’s earned the bout. Saunders is also a big talker, so he may be able to sell a few pay-per-views on short notice.

Why it may not happen: Saunders was supposed to fight next weekend in England, but a hand injury postponed the fight til mid-June. It seems unlikely to me that Saunders would want to push up is fight date by six weeks when returning from a hand injury. Golovkin would also probably rather avoid a slick southpaw fighter after spending his entire training camp preparing for a right handed puncher. These two seem destined to fight eventually, but the timing just doesn’t seem right for May.

DEMETRIUS ANDRADE

25-0, 16 KO

Why it should happen: Andrade is one of the most gifted boxers in the division. He has a history of knockouts, and his long, rangy style is difficult for opponents to crack. No one is more excited than Andrade about the process of replacing Canelo on the card; he’s discussed it extensively on twitter and with multiple boxing writers.

Why it may not happen: Though Andrade has big-time talent, no one outside of boxing diehards know who he is. His career has been horribly mismanaged by his promoters, and bouts of inactivity have killed all the momentum his big wins have had. Like Saunders he’s also a southpaw, which Golovkin would be best-served to avoid on short notice.

SPIKE O’SULLIVAN

27-2 19 KO

Why it should happen: It shouldn’t. A fighter like O’Sullivan has no business being in the ring with Golovkin. But as soon as Canelo withdrew, Spike became the favorite leaked by boxing writers online. He’s a relative unknown and would gladly take the fight on short notice. He also is a brawler, which would create a fan-friendly style on television.

Why it may not happen: Selling a pay-per-view matchup in which the challenger has no quality wins in his career would be a marketing disaster. O’Sullivan has faced two notable fighters in his career in Chris Eubank and Billy Joe Saunders. He lost to Eubank by knockout and was nearly shutout by Saunders. No one in the United States knows O’Sullivan. Though Spike is moderately entertaining to watch, he’s essentially a homeless man’s version of Golovkin. GGG would end the fight in a hurry, leaving fans wondering why they spent $75 on such a one-sided matchup.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
The Texans host the Steelers at NRG this Sunday. Composite Getty Image.

What: Texans vs. Steelers

When: 10/1 12pm CST kickoff

Where: Houston, TX NRG Stadium

TV/Radio: KHOU-TV, KILT-Radio

Betting Lines: Steelers -2.5 (-120), O/U 42 (-110) *As of this writing

The Watt Brother Bowl takes place on Sunday. I'm calling it that because the Texans are honoring their all-time great J.J. while they're playing his younger brother and current hell raising edge rusher for the Steelers T.J. The Steelers have won four of the last five matchups vs. the Texans by an average score of 28-17. The biggest difference is that the Steelers have a second year starter at quarterback in Kenny Pickett, and the Texans have a rookie in C.J. Stroud. When you look at the two quarterbacks, both organizations have full faith in each guy. Both teams have tried to build a defense to help their young signal callers. Both are still trying to surround their franchise guys with weapons.

When the Steelers have the ball: Here's a game where Will Anderson Jr can make headway as a proven EDGE. Stacking consistent performances together and helping your team win games by making winning plays. It helps that Pickett has tiny hands. This was a knock on him during draft season last year. Hand size for a quarterback impacts grip. That can not only impact accuracy, but it could make it easier to strip the ball from him.

While he doesn't have the weapons to torch this defense, Pickett does hand the ball off to Najee Harris who's more than capable. Averaging only 67 yards rushing as a team can't be taken lightly. Denzel Perryman is expected to miss the game Sunday, so hopefully that won't help jumpstart the Steelers' run game. The Texans defense will have to key in on the run, given that they average giving up 117 a game on the ground. Those aforementioned weapons may not be scary, but the injuries to the defensive backs has hurt. Tavierre Thomas is expected to miss the game recovering from hand surgery. Jimmie Ward coming back last week showed what happens when they have a top safety back there, especially when the pass rush is turning up. Hopefully, the Texans can capitalize again this week, with safety Jalen Pitre expected to return to action.

When the Texans have the ball: Good luck stopping Tank Dell and Stroud! These guys have already established themselves as a formidable duo three games into their careers. A great way to get that connection going is to pound the rock. The Steelers are giving up over 150 yards on the ground per game so far this season. That's also a good way to keep T.J. at bay while J.J. watches. With Laremy Tunsil and Josh Jones both expected to miss the game, here are the offensive line starters: Austin Deculus, Kendrick Green, Jarrett Patterson, Shaq Mason, and George Fant.

Making the younger Watt brother slow down a bit instead of going balls to the wall after Stroud because a run could be coming will help the pass game tremendously. Stroud will have to continue to make quick decisions, but even quicker this game. I wouldn't be surprised to see his first pick of his career here, given the pressure he's most likely to be under. Especially when your offensive line starters were mostly all backups to begin this season.

Outcome: I failed to place a money line bet on the Texans last week because the game started and the live bet wasn't as profitable. I wanted to take a chance on them given their recent record against the Jags. Looking at their last five vs. the Steelers, one would say why make that bet this week? It's because I believe in Stroud more than I believe in Pickett. While T.J. Watt is a different kind of monster, Will Anderson Jr is on his way to becoming something special. Texans win/cover, and hit the over, but barely: Texans 24, Steelers 20.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome