Stephen Espinoza remains hopeful that a Canelo Alvarez-Jermall Charlo fight still can be put together next year.

Canelo-Charlo was the event Espinoza, Showtime’s president of sports and event programming, and Al Haymon, the founder of Premier Boxing Champions, had hoped to make a pay-per-view headliner for May 7. The Mexican icon instead passed on what is believed to have been a $45 million guarantee for facing Charlo to move back up to the light heavyweight division to battle WBA light heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol in a DAZN Pay-Per-View main event May 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

If Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) beats Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs) and Gennadiy Golovkin gets past Ryota Murata in their middleweight title unification fight April 9 in Saitama, Japan, a third Alvarez-Golovkin fight finally will be scheduled for September 17.

The 31-year-old Alvarez’s full schedule for 2022 has left Charlo with a less significant assignment – an optional defense of his WBC middleweight title against Maciej Sulecki. Showtime will televise the bout between Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs) and Poland’s Sulecki (30-2, 11 KOs) as a main event June 18 from a venue to be determined in Houston, Charlo’s hometown.

“The reality is, you know, when a super fight like a Canelo versus Charlo fight falls apart, you just have to regroup, move to the next best thing – whether it’s, you know, it’s gonna be Munguia or, in this case, Sulecki,” Espinoza stated during a virtual press conference Tuesday to promote Showtime’s spring and early-summer schedule. “Sulecki is a proven contender, a veteran, only two losses to two of the best guys in the division, you know, in Danny Jacobs and [Demetrius Andrade]. So, you know, this is – I know everyone wanted Canelo-Charlo and, you know, I still want that, too. I know Jermall, more than anybody, wants that fight. But this is a really good alternative here, you know, and a quality test there in Houston.”

Sulecki was Plan C for Haymon and Espinoza after Alvarez went back to work with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and DAZN following one fight with PBC and Showtime Pay-Per-View – an 11th-round stoppage of former IBF super middleweight champ Caleb Plant (21-1, 12 KOs) on November 6 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Haymon and promoter Tom Brown attempted to make a Charlo-Jaime Munguia fight once Alvarez chose to box Bivol, but the unbeaten Munguia’s promoters ultimately rejected that offer.

With Tijuana’s Munguia (39-0, 30 KOs) no longer an option, either, Haymon and Brown turned their attention to securing Sulecki as Charlo’s opponent.

Warsaw’s Sulecki, 32, has lost only a pair of 12-round unanimous decisions to former IBF middleweight champ Daniel Jacobs (37-4, 30 KOs) and ex-WBO middleweight champ Demetrius Andrade (31-0, 19 KOs).

Charlo, 31, will end almost exactly a one-year layoff when he encounters Sulecki. He last fought June 19, when Mexican contender Juan Macias Montiel (23-5-2, 23 KOs) pushed Charlo on his way to losing a unanimous decision in a 12-round title fight Showtime televised from Toyota Center in Houston.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.