By Kenneth Friedman: The negotiations for the Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Sergey Kovalev fight aren’t looking too good right now due to the prior obligations for the Russian knockout artist.  Kovalev’s previously scheduled August 24 fight against Anthony Yarde in Russia is getting in the way of  the Canelo-Kovalev fight, according to Mike Coppinger.  Kovalev has “obligations” with the organizers of his August 24 fight in Russia.  As a result, it now appears that Kovalev will go ahead and face the 27-year-old Yarde next in Russia.

If Kovalev beats Yarde, then he can defend his WBO light heavyweight title against Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) later on this year if both fighters are still interested in taking that match. Canelo wants Kovalev’s belt, because it’s the easiest of the four titles for him to win at 175. Kovalev is the perfect opponent for Canelo. With Kovalev’s vulnerabilities in taking body shots, his advanced age and poor stamina, he’s someone that Canelo would have a good chance of beating.

Obviously, Canelo would gain more respect from the hardcore boxing fans if he aimed high and took on IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev, WBA champ Dmitry Bivol or WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk, but those guys are all fighting on a high level right now. They’re not looking old like Kovalev.

Canelo free to defend against Derevyanchenko

In the meantime, Canelo, 29, is free to defend his IBF middleweight title against his mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-1, 10 KOs) in his next fight, as recently ordered by the International Boxing Federation. If Canelo chooses not to make that fight, then he can either vacate his IBF title or wait for the sanctioning body to strip him of his title.

Canelo had said recently he wanted to unify the 160 pound division, but it’s unclear whether he can do that now. DAZN could play a part in this as well. They’re paying Canelo $365 million for his five-year, 11-fight deal with their company. Thus far, Canelo has fought Rocky Fielding and Daniel Jacobs in his first two fights with them.

The Fielding fight didn’t bring in big numbers for DAZN. Derevyanchenko won’t attract likely won’t attract a lot of subscribers to DAZN either. For that reason, it might be better for Canelo to forget about the IBF belt, and focus on fighting Gennady Golovkin, Jermall Charlo or Callum Smith. In other words, fight guys that will create excitement among the casual boxing fans. Derevyanchenko hasn’t done enough with his career to get a lot of headlines. He’s a good fighter, but he’s been invisible in the eyes of the average fans. Fighting either of the Charlo brothers would grab a lot of attention for Canelo, but they would be tough fights for him. Those guys as big as Daniel Jacobs, and a lot younger.  Canelo had problems beating Jacobs last May.

Canelo with nothing to gain in keeping IBF title

The World Boxing Council recently appointed Canelo as their new WBC Franchise champion, which is a title that he can’t lose or defend. Jermall Charlo is now the WBC middleweight champion. So if Canelo defeats Derevyanchenko to take care of his mandatory obligations with the IBF, and then beats WBO champion Demetrius Andrade, he still won’t be the unified champion. The WBC Franchise title can’t be defended.

At this point in Canelo’s career, his main concern should be to make the biggest fights possible to keep DAZN happy. Whether Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN feel that Derevyanchenko can help further that goal is debatable. For most boxing fans, they wouldn’t be excited at seeing Canelo face Derevyanchenko. They want to see Canelo fight GGG, the Charlo brothers, Callum Smith, Kovalev, David Benavidez, Caleb Plant and Billy Joe Saunders. Derevyanchenko isn’t a big enough name for it to be a worthwhile fight for Canelo.

“SOURCES: The Canelo Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev fight is now in serious jeopardy of falling apart due to Kovalev’s prior obligations with organizers in Russia for his signed Aug. 24 fight with Anthony Yarde. More likely Alvarez-Kovalev revisited if Sergey beats Yarde,” said @MikeCoppinger.

Fans will be disappointed if Canelo doesn’t face Kovalev next

There will be a lot of disappointed boxing fans in not being able to see Canelo and Kovalev face each other next, but it’s a fight that can still be made before the end of the year. Until the negotiations hit a snag on Thursday, there had been plans on the Canelo-Kovalev fight taking place on October 19 or 26 in Las Vegas, Nevada. As long as Kovalev is successful in his title defense against Yarde on August 24 he should be able to defend against Canelo by November or December.

It would obviously depend on how much punishment Kovalev takes against Yarde. If Kovalev suffers cuts and/or broken bones in that fight, then he’s going to need to wait until 2020 before he faces Canelo. The fight can still happen, but it’ll get moved a little down the road before it does.