Photo: Al Bello (Getty)

Middleweight champion Canelo Álvarez released a statement Wednesday announcing that, for the first time since 2015, he will not be fighting his traditional bout on Mexican Independence Day weekend in September. Álvarez—who’s generally a safe bet to box on that weekend as well as Cinco de Mayo weekend—canceled the presumed fight due to a lack of a suitable opponent, after talks with Sergey Kovalev fell through. If Canelo is looking for a proper fighter to face, there’s one obvious opponent sitting directly below him in the division rankings; unfortunately, a second rematch with GGG doesn’t appear to be on the table.

According to ESPN, “the 28-year-old Alvarez also was not interested in a third fight with former middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin for this fall,” which makes him potentially the only person in the world who doesn’t want that fight to happen. Golovkin, still everybody’s pick as the second-best middleweight out there, possesses only two blemishes on his 41-fight record: an unfair draw against Alvarez in 2017, and a majority-decision loss to him in 2018. Since the defeat, Golovkin looked strong in a four-round knockout of a jobber named Steve Rolls back in June, while Álvarez pummeled an overmatched Rocky Fielding last December before earning a tight UD against Danny Jacobs in May. After that win, which gave Álvarez yet another belt to add to his overflowing trophy rack, he seemed prepared for the inevitability of a third battle against GGG, who was present as a spectator in the arena.

“If the people want another [Golovkin] fight, we’ll do it again, and I’ll beat him again,” he said. “That’s why I’m here. That’s what I was born for. To defend what’s mine. I’ll fight anyone.” That sure sounds like a lie now, unless Canelo intends to wait until the much-older GGG is too washed to be a threat.

Now that both boxers are tied via massive contracts to the streaming service DAZN (pronounced “Days Inn”), a lucrative third fight seems reasonably within their reach. But it makes sense why a trilogy-finishing bout isn’t one Álvarez would want to take—it’d be a fight where he’d have everything to lose and arguably not much to gain. There are no belts that GGG can currently give to Canelo, and a win against the 37-year-old Golovkin would merely increase his advantage in the series from 1-0-1 to 2-0-1. But in almost every boxing fan’s mind, this rivalry is tied at one apiece, and a decisive victory to end the trilogy would be a legacy-making moment for Álvarez, who’s consistently struggled to win credibility with hardcore fans despite his status as the sport’s biggest North American star.

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There have been prior hiccups in the attempts to get these two in the ring together—the rematch was pushed back from May to September barely a month before it was set to happen. So maybe a third fight is still just around the corner. But if Canelo spends the rest of GGG’s brief remaining window dodging a highly coveted fight, he may remain the champion, but he’ll also look chickenshit.