The Friday Five: December 20th, 2019

1.  Canelo vacates light heavyweight championship

Credit: Twitter/@DAZN_USA

Canelo Alvarez has vacated one of his world titles, as he seems to indicate where he will fight next.

Alvarez has vacated his WBO light heavyweight titles just over six-weeks after he defeated Sergey Kovalev by knockout in Las Vegas.

On Tuesday morning, Golden Boy Promotions released a statement that Alvarez has decided to vacate the title in an attempt to free up the title and open up the possibility for a potential Gennadiy Golovkin trilogy fight in May.

“I know that my accomplishments in the ring have brought pride to my fans and my country,” Alvarez said. “I have long enjoyed my relationship with the WBO and appreciate all they do to preserve and enhance the sport of boxing. This agreement allows the WBO to have its light heavyweight title contested regularly and allows me to pursue bouts against the best opponents, regardless of weight class.”

With the light heavyweight title no longer in his collection, Alvarez is now only a two-division titleholder, holding titles at 160 and 168 pounds.

2. Harrison Looks To Humble Charlo

Credit: Stephanie Trapp/TGB Promotions

Over a year later Tony Harrison’s win over Jermell Charlo for the WBC super welterweight championship remains controversial to many but Harrison.

“I had three judges who said I won, so I don’t think I have to change anything in my game plan,” Harrison said on Thursday’s press conference. “I’m happy. I don’t care about what him and his team is telling him. I don’t have to do anything different.”

“He had 12 rounds and never rocked me, never stumbled me. He gave me everything he has. The same Jermell that you have seen in every fight is the same you’ll see Saturday.”

“We’re here once again and once again I’m going to exactly what I have to do,” the champion continued. “This is what needs to be done to him. I love everything about this. I love everything about the talking, the back and forth, and all the noise.

“I’m hungrier now because of the layoff since the first fight. It hasn’t affected my mindset for one moment. Sparring has been intense for me. That’s where I got the rust off. I was pushed every day with guys trying to knock me out, just like he’s going to try to do.

“I just have to be myself and win again,” Harrison said. “He can’t handle someone who’s himself. I’m rattling him every five seconds. I just have to throw the 1-2 off of that and we’re good.”

3.  Garcia Talks Worst Loss In His Career

Credit: Ryan Hafey/PBC

Mikey Garcia looks for redemption on Leap day when he returns to welterweight for a fight against Jessie Vargas.

Garcia, who stepped up to the weight class for the first time earlier this year to face off against Errol Spence Jr inside AT&T Stadium, believes that was the worst effort he’s given as a pro fighter.

“I feel and I know that there’s a lot more to my fight game that wasn’t there my last fight,” Garcia told FightHub. “My last performance was horrible, the worst of my career. I feel like I’ve got to make up for that. I have to show my fans there’s more. This fight does that. I think this fight allows me to show that there’s much more to Mikey Garcia, even at 147. Naturally, I should be smaller, I should be fighting at a lower weight class. But I want to show there’s more I can do. I can be a solid contender and title challenger at 147.”

“It was the most horrible performance, that’s the honest truth. But I’m not dwelling on that. I’m moving forward. I’ve got big plans. 2020 will be a big year for me, huge year. That’s part of boxing. You lose a fight, OK, so what? Move forward. What’s gonna show the world and speak most for me is how I bounce back from a loss. Winning so many fights in a row and making it look easy sometimes doesn’t give you enough credit and people don’t give you the recognition. But bouncing back from a loss, how you do it, what you do after, I think will speak more to the kind of fighter I am.”

“Everybody has an opinion,” Garcia said of the blowback of his unanimous decision loss to Spence on Fox Sports Pay Per View. “They love you one day, they say you’re nothing the next day. That doesn’t matter. I have big plans. The next day I was already looking forward to what I’m gonna do next. You lose a fight, you win the next one. It happens. People put a lot more emphasis and importance to an undefeated record. I don’t feel like that. I really don’t feel like that. At least for me, the main thing is getting certain fights, showing the world I’m capable of getting in the ring and competing at the highest level with the top guys. Who cares what the fans say or media says? I don’t care about that. I care about my fans. That’s it. Nothing else matters to me.”

4. AJ-Pulev Eyed For February

With two mandatory challengers, Anthony Joshua has a tough decision over who is next for his unified world heavyweight championships.

It seems that decision has been made for him, as the IBF’s mandatory Kubrat Pulev is next man up according to Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn.

“I believe his next fight will be in April, and my gut feeling is it will be against Kubrat Pulev,” Hearn told Boxing Scene as both Pulev and Oleksandr Usyk have a claim at a shot at Joshua’s world championship.

“Joshua doesn’t want to vacate the belts. He loves them. We need to have a conversation of common sense between the governing bodies. We’ve written to to the IBF and WBO. Who goes first? You can’t just hold Anthony to ransom and say you have to vacate one. There is a rotational system that chronologically tells you who goes first. It’s the IBF. But I also represent Usyk, so I have to push for him as well. It’s a bit of a messy situation, but Joshua will defend his titles against whoever he has to. But he really wants the undisputed fight, so we’ll so what happens on Feb. 22 between [Wilder and Fury].”

 

5. MacDonald Jumps to PFL

Credit: Bellator MMA

 

While Rory MacDonald was unable to claim the prize in the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix, the former Bellator welterweight king will test his luck in 2020 inside the Professional Fighters League.

On Wednesday, the PFL announced that MacDonald has signed up for their 2020 season fighting at welterweight and for a chance to win $1 million if he makes it to the finals on New Year’s Eve.

This would be the third season of the current incarnation of the PFL, as it changed to a season format following new ownership in 2018.

MacDonald’s last fight for Bellator was in the finals of the Welterweight Grand Prix in a highly anticipated rematch against former champion Douglas Lima. MacDonald, who openly pondered retirement following a draw against former PFL/WSOF star Jon Fitch in the opening round of the tournament, lost by unanimous decision to Lima.

In talking with FIGHT SPORTS prior to his fight with Lima, MacDonald admitted that his fight with Lima was the last on his contract, and he was willing to test the waters of free agency if he and Bellator President Scott Coker did not come to terms on a deal.

 

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