Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Canelo vs Smith or Saunders? Initial offers turned down but negotiations continue
"There is a market rate that has been established"
Last Updated: 14/02/20 6:39pm
Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders are awaiting better offers to fight Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, their promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed.
Mexican superstar Canelo is prioritising winning a super-middleweight world championship on May 2, the weekend of his nation's holiday Cinco de Mayo, and Smith and Saunders hold WBA and WBO belts respectively.
Initial offers from Canelo were not accepted, and Hearn told Sky Sports: "There is a market rate that has been established, unfortunately for [Canelo's promoters] Golden Boy. Callum and Billy Joe are not even asking for that market rate.
"I don't know which one Canelo prefers. But I do know both Callum and Billy Joe want the fight. The one who gets the fight? Probably the one who takes it for the least money.
"Canelo has to fight a credible guy. Callum and Billy Joe are world champions. They aren't just being picked off a list.
"It is a lot of money but it is less than what you have paid everybody else.
"We feel the same about Anthony Joshua's opponents. The market has changed, and guys are demanding."
Smith and Saunders, undefeated in a combined 56 fights, could fight each other to unify titles if neither get the nod to face Canelo.
"Unfortunately [we are] in a position where Canelo calls the shots," Hearn told Sky Sports earlier this week.
"Billy Joe doesn't like that and it gives him fire in his belly. Callum understands that he's waiting.
"This doesn't mean that we're not planning other fights elsewhere because we can't just sit there, waiting for Canelo, then in two weeks we get bad news for one of them or maybe bad news for both.
"If neither get the fight, they have to unify [against each other].
"We also have Danny Jacobs, Demetrius Andrade is definitely an option for Saunders. There is plenty going on behind the scenes for both guys beside Canelo but, obviously, he is the dream opportunity."
Canelo became WBO light-heavyweight champion by knocking out Sergey Kovalev in his most recent fight, a belt in a fourth division but is expected to drop down one division next.
"Billy Joe messaged me saying: 'Tell Canelo that if we don't have a deal by Wednesday we'll look elsewhere!'
"I said: 'Bill, calm down!'
"Canelo wants to fight at 168lbs so he looks at the champions of which Saunders and Smith are two. That's where the interest comes from. If they fight each other and unify, it becomes even more enticing for Canelo to take the fight.
"Neither guy wants to sit still. Both want to move into the biggest fight possible in the summer of 2020. That is Canelo - but if that doesn't exist it's my job to find them the next biggest available opportunity."
Saunders told Sky Sports last week about Canelo: "I would go to Mexico, if they want, as long as they have got a fair square ring. Let's see who the best is.
"I fear no man. If they want to fight, I'm ready to fight.
"I'm up for the fight. I've not priced myself out - I've asked right. I'm willing to travel for Cinco de Mayo.
"I can only do so much. I can only offer myself. If they really want to fight then let's get it on, we've got 12 weeks.
"If not, me and Callum Smith will get it on in a big fight. A huge unification fight."