Canelo Alvarez might not be facing the opponent that many boxing fans had hoped he would, but his upcoming fight is still being treated like it’s the biggest of 2016. When the middleweight champion drops down a division to take on Liam Smith for his light middleweight title on Sept. 17, he’ll do so at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
It’s the second time in the last year and a half that Alvarez will fight at a stadium in Texas. On May 9, 2015, he defeated James Kirkland with a third-round knockout in front of more than 31,000 fans at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
"Texas loves Canelo and Canelo loves Texas, so it was a no-brainer to have this fight at AT&T Stadium," Oscar De La Hoya said in a statement. "Texas is like Canelo's second home, and he has stated that he wants to fight in Texas once a year for his fans. My friend Jerry Jones extended the invitation to Canelo to fight at AT&T Stadium, so it was an easy decision for us."
The venue, which is home to the Dallas Cowboys, can hold over 100,000 fans. In April, WWE's WrestleMania 32 reached a staggering 101,762 in attendance. Six years ago, more than 50,000 fans packed into AT&T Stadium to watch Manny Pacquiao defeat Joshua Clottey.
Alvarez is the biggest draw in boxing, and he’s almost certain to put on a show. He’s a heavy favorite over Smith, who doesn’t have notable victories on his resume. Alvarez has won five straight fights since losing to Floyd Mayweather and suffering the only loss of his professional career. Three of those wins have come by early stoppage, including his devastating knockout of Amir Khan in May.
A week before Alvarez steps in the ring, Gennady Golovkin will take on Kell Brook at the O2 Arena in London. Alvarez had indicated that he was ready to face Golovkin this year, but now the two middleweights won’t fight until 2017 at the earliest.
With Alvarez-Golovkin not happening in the fall, the light heavyweight fight between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev that is scheduled for Nov. 19 is the top bout for the second half of 2016. Other notable fights that are likely to take place include Tyson Fury vs. Wladimir Klitschko and Manny Pacquiao’s return.
Following his eighth-round knockout of Chris Arreola on Saturday, Deontay Wilder won’t be back in the ring this year. The WBC heavyweight champion suffered two injuries en route to his 37th career victory, and he could undergo multiple surgeries.
"He's definitely going to need surgery on his right hand," promoter Lou DiBella told ESPN.com. "He will have it as soon as is practical. He will likely also require surgery on his biceps.
"Deontay is definitely out for the remainder of the year, but we will know more in the next few days."
As he continues to dominate all challengers, Wilder has set himself up for a fight against other top heavyweights. Fury confronted Wilder earlier this year when he defeated Artur Szpilka, but a fight with undefeated IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua seems more feasible.
"Of course I want the Furys, of course I want the Joshuas, but the question is, do they want me?" Wilder said after Saturday’s win.
"My goal is to unify the division. I'm one of the baddest, hardest-hitting heavyweights in the business, so whoever's got those belts, that's who I want."
Because of his injury, however, Wilder won’t get a heavyweight unification fight until next year.