Canelo Alvarez’s longtime goal of becoming undisputed boxing champion is further from reality than ever since he won his third 168-pound title in May.
Boxing’s top star was on the verge of a deal to meet Caleb Plant on Sept. 18 in Las Vegas — a PBC on Fox pay-per-view — a pact that was in the works for weeks. But at the 11th hour, talks have broken off over disagreements in the contract, multiple sources told ESPN on Tuesday. The contract was passed back and forth between Canelo’s team and Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions over the weekend, sources said, and after multiple edit requests, the deal collapsed over the stalemate.
Talks could be revisited, sources said, but time is running out if Canelo plans to fight on Mexican Independence Day weekend as he traditionally does. If he moves on from a fight with Plant, who holds the only super middleweight title not in Alvarez’s possession, another option is a return to 175 pounds for a title tilt with Russia’s Dmitry Bivol, sources said.
Alvarez’s team had requested a rematch clause, a concession Plant and PBC agreed to, sources said.
Canelo’s two-fight deal with Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn expired following his May TKO victory over Billy Joe Saunders, opening the door for Alvarez to seek a one-fight deal with Haymon’s team that would have earned him a career-high payday. The Mexican was set to make upwards of $40 million guaranteed, sources said, for a fight that would have been presented in conjunction with Canelo Promotions.
“I’m coming, my friend,” Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) said in the ring after he fractured Saunders’ orbital bone, a coldly delivered warning to Plant.
The deal — negotiated by Alvarez’s reigning trainer of the year, Eddy Reynoso — would have marked Alvarez’s return to pay-per-view, a platform he has headlined on nine times since his fight with Shane Mosley in 2012. Those bouts include a megafight with Floyd Mayweather in 2013 and a pair of matchups with his bitter rival, Gennadiy Golovkin.
Now, Alvarez could return to DAZN, the platform that has streamed his last six fights, beginning with a December 2018 win over Rocky Fielding.
Following the rematch with GGG in September 2018, Alvarez linked up DAZN on a 11-fight, $365 million deal. But after just three fights together, a dispute led to a legal battle between the fighter and DAZN (along with then-promoter Golden Boy). The spat was settled, and Alvarez became a network and promotional free agent. His past three fights were promoted by Hearn on DAZN.
Delivering Canelo to Fox would have been a coup for Haymon, whose three-year deal with the broadcast platform expires later this year but includes a network option for a fourth year, per sources. A fight between Alvarez and Plant would have been 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).
There was reason to believe Alvarez would link up with PBC for multiple fights. If Canelo plans to remain at 168 pounds — he’s ESPN’s No. 1 super middleweight — Haymon offers the best available opponents. There’s Jermall Charlo, the undefeated, brash-talking middleweight champion who has long pushed for a meeting with Alvarez.
Haymon also advises David Benavidez, the former 168-pound titleholder who many in the industry believe will present the toughest challenge for Alvarez with his relentless volume punching and enormous size. And don’t count out a future fight with Spence. He currently campaigns at 147 pounds but owns a large frame; he figures to move up to 154 pounds next year.
For now, Alvarez is left to cement an opponent for Sept. 18, whether that means circling back to Plant or finding someone else. Alvarez had actually already begun preparations for Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) at his gym in San Diego. Alvarez’s two dates have traditionally been Cinco De Mayo weekend and Mexican Independence Day weekend. 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. If he fights on Sept. 18, it will be Alvarez’s fourth fight in nine months. Superstar boxers routinely compete just twice a year, and that used to be the case for Canelo.
Canelo is ESPN’s No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer. He claimed titles at 154 pounds, 160 and 175 and has won every fight since his draw with GGG in 2018.
No matter whom he fights, Alvarez is a box-office bonanza, but he hasn’t been able to flex his proverbial muscle on PPV in three years. His last three bouts were offered on pay-per-view, but that wasn’t a major revenue driver since they were only available for substantially less money as part of a monthly subscription to DAZN.
Canelo’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 would 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 Nashville native 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 has lacked: top-flight opposition. His best opponent was Jose Uzcategui in Plant’s title-winning effort. He’s also encountered hand issues, including in his most recent victory.
The fight with Alvarez would have seen Plant rise several levels in class. He, too, was set to earn a career-high payday, a package worth more than $10 million, sources said. While Plant hasn’t been tested, he’s looked the part in all his fights and is rated No. 3 by ESPN at 168 pounds. One attribute Plant certainly isn’t lacking ahead of his career-defining night: confidence.
“He’s looked human in some of these bigger fights,” Plant said in May. “He’s been fighting these U.K.-level guys and that’s cool, but as far as him fighting the top — Floyd Mayweather, Erislandy Lara and Gennady Golovkin [twice] — he’s 1-3.” Alvarez is actually 3-1 in those fights, but the draw with GGG and win over Lara were disputed decisions.
Now, Plant might not have a chance at all to prove Alvarez is just that — another man.
DIII safety 1st woman non-kicker to play in NCAA
Haley Van Voorhis, a safety at Division-III Shenandoah University, became the first woman non-kicker to appear in an NCAA football game on Saturday against Juniata.
She came on in the first quarter and registered a quarterback hurry on third down.
A 5-foot-6, 145-pound junior, Van Voorhis spent the past two seasons playing on junior varsity. The Plains, Virginia, native went to high school at Christchurch and was 2019 All-State Honorable Mention. Her senior season was cancelled because of COVID-19.
Van Voorhis is also a member of Shenandoah’s track and field team, running sprints.
In 2014, defensive back Shelby Osborne became the first woman non-kicker to participate in an NAIA program at Campbellsville University. However, she did not appear in a game.
Multiple women have played kicking positions in college football. In 2003, Katie Hnida became the first woman to score in an NCAA Division I-A football game as the placekicker at New Mexico. Seventeen years later, Sarah Fuller became the first woman to score in a Power 5 football game as the kicker for Vanderbilt.
In an interview with ESPN in 2021, Van Voorhis said she’s used to people pointing out that she’s the only girl playing football, whether it was during Pop Warner or high school.
“There’s definitely people out there who see the story and think, ‘This girl’s going to get hurt,'” she said. “I hear that a lot. Or, ‘She’s too small, doesn’t weigh enough, not tall enough.’ But I’m not the shortest on my team, and I’m not the lightest.”
Shenandoah coach Scott Yoder told ESPN in 2021 that Van Voorhis is “very determined” young person.
“What has really helped me has been when you peel everything back it’s about a young person who wants an opportunity, who works for it and has earned an opportunity,” he said. “For 21 years I’ve been fortunate to be on the coaching side of that. And at the core of this, it’s no different.”
No. 4 FSU snaps 7-game skid vs. Clemson in OT
CLEMSON, S.C. — Jordan Travis threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Keon Coleman to start overtime and No. 4 Florida State completed a second-half comeback to defeat Clemson 31-24 on Saturday and snap a seven-game losing streak against the Tigers.
Travis also threw for another TD and ran for a score for the Seminoles (4-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had not beaten Clemson (2-2, 0-2) since an overtime victory in 2014.
Clemson had a chance to take a late lead, but Jonathan Weitz, a graduate student who left the team before the season only to return after the Tigers had issues in the kicking game, but his 29-yard try with under two minutes left was wide left.
Instead, the game went to OT and Travis, who was 21 of 37 for 289 yards, lofted a pass that Coleman caught in stride and hushed the raucous Death Valley crowd on the first extra possession.
Clemson couldn’t get a first down on its possession when Klubnik’s fourth-and-2 pass sailed wide of the target and Florida State’s players ran to celebrate on the field where they hadn’t won since 2013.
Clemson had lost only twice in 10 years at Death Valley since the Seminoles and quarterback Jameis Winston’s memorable 51-14 beatdown of the Tigers in 2013.
And Florida State struggled to find space much of the first half and had only 21 yards with less than 8 minutes left before the half. That’s when Travis and his talented corps of playmakers found their groove.
Travis directed a pair of 75-yard touchdown drives in the final 5 minutes, the first ending when Coleman was left alone a step inside the goal line for a 7-yard scoring catch.
After Clemson answered quickly with a TD drive of its own, Travis went 4-of-4 for 67 yards and finished with a 2-yard touchdown run to get within 17-14.
Clemson started No. 9 in the preseason rankings, slid down and eventually out of the poll after a 28-7 loss in Week 1 to unranked Duke. Three weeks of hearing their season was over obviously rankled the defending ACC champions and the Tigers had their most effective offensive showing this season.
Weitz, who had been Clemson’s backup kicker for four seasons got a call from coach Dabo Swinney at his home in Charleston, asking him to rejoin the team. Weitz was working on a graduate degree online.
He got the Tigers’ scoring started with a 30-yard field goal. He had made just three extra points in his four seasons with the team before pursuing a job in finance.
Florida State: The Seminoles overcame perhaps their biggest ACC hurdle to supplant Clemson as the league heavyweight. If Florida State can continue to show the grit it displayed in raucous Death Valley, it will be a strong bet to be playing for its first ACC crown since 2014.
Clemson: The Tigers needed a win to get themselves back in the ACC and College Football Playoff chase. Instead, they’ve got two losses in September for the second time in three seasons and will need conference chaos for any chance to play for a league title.
Florida State has a week off, then starts a three-game homestand with Virginia Tech on Oct. 7.
Clemson travels to Syracuse on Saturday.
Utah QB Rising not making 2023 debut vs. UCLA
Rising took part in warmups but was in street clothes for the start of the game. Rising, who has yet to play this season, was given clearance to practice without limitation in early September and was given positive reports by coach Kyle Whittingham this week about how he looked in practice.
Johnson led Utah’s comeback win at Baylor two weeks ago, scoring the tying touchdown on a 7-yard fourth-quarter run. That performance led to Whittingham making the switch between the backups, and Johnson started and played well in a 31-7 victory over Weber State last week.
A 6-foot-1, 195-pound dual-threat quarterback with unusual speed for the position, Johnson threw for 193 yards against Weber State. On the season, he has three rushing touchdowns and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
Johnson has completed 68.8% of his passes, as he had a significant role as a change-of-pace quarterback in Utah’s first two games before becoming the starter.
Rising has led Utah to back-to-back Pac-12 titles, and his status has been one of the biggest questions hanging over the sport this month. Whittingham has told reporters that the medical clearance on Rising’s return isn’t up to the Utah medical staff.
Rising’s ACL was repaired by noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache, and earlier in the month, Whittingham told the Deseret News of ElAttrache: “The ultimate guy that says thumbs-up, thumbs-down for playing, and right now we don’t have that thumbs-up.”
Rising is one of the most accomplished players in the sport, as he threw for 3,034 yards with 26 touchdown passes last season before the injury in the Rose Bowl. With Rising under center, Utah has registered back-to-back 10-win seasons. Utah is 3-0 without him this year and plays UCLA in a battle of undefeated teams.
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