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Canelo Alvarez

By Lewis Watson, April 19, 2020

Who Will Canelo Alvarez Fight Next?

As the global pandemic leaves boxing in limbo we break down the potential challengers to the four-division world champion

With COVID-19 decimating the boxing schedule every fighter up and down the weight classes has been left playing a frustrating waiting game.

Uncertainty is rife regarding training schedules, fight dates, fight opponents and even current contracts with promoters. This uncertainty will be felt more prominently down the bottom of the boxing pyramid, but what lies ahead for the man sat at the top?

After Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez signed a staggering 11-fight, five-year, $365 million contract with DAZN in 2018, his future and his quest for legacy in the sport looked mapped out, accompanied by the most intricate detail.

Three fights and three wins later – a TKO victory over Rocky Fielding at 168-pounds, a unanimous decision victory over Danny Jacobs at 160-pounds and a KO victory over Sergey Kovalev at 175-pounds – the Mexican’s career has been halted due to the current global pandemic, with no current timescale for a legitimate return.

Canelo has eight fights left on his DAZN contract but is running out of time and options as he looks to cement his legacy as one of the best to lace up a pair of gloves.

The Golden Boy star, 53-1-2, will turn 30 in July, with tradition (dating back to 2011) dictating that the he will only dance twice a year for the rest of his career.

Fulfilling this mega-money contract while simultaneously building on his legacy will be a tough task, and with a lack of genuine threats within the three divisions Canelo is campaigning to inspire the boxing public.

So, looking forward to the resumption of boxing, who will be on Canelo’s radar over the next couple of years?

Billy Joe Saunders

WBO super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders is awaiting a shot at Canelo having verbally agreed terms for a fight against the Mexican this Cinco de Mayo.

The breakout of COVID-19 scuppered these plans, with their fight for the 168-pound belt put on hold until boxing resumes.

Canelo usually fights in May and September, but with boxing expected to revive slowly once given the green light this fight could be pushed back even further until the end of 2020.

Saunders is a tricky, slippery southpaw whose style could prove difficult for Canelo to negate. The Briton’s lack of knockout power would allow Canelo to take risks in the bout that he would otherwise avoid – cutting off the ring and stopping Billy Joe will be Canelo’s Plan A if the two meet later this year.

Saunders has underwhelmed throughout his career with the 30-year-old struggling to nail down the biggest fights. This will be by far the biggest test in Saunders’ career, with a potential win adding another string to Canelo’s bow of beaten styles.

Callum Smith

Another British boxer, Callum Smith is a viable option for Canelo if he is to attempt to sweep up the 168-pound division.

With the WBA and Ring Magazine super-middleweight straps in his possession, “Mundo” is unbeaten as a professional. And with his unique-sized frame up at 6ft 3″, Canelo would be entering unchartered territory as a pro.

Despite fighting up at light-heavyweight previously, Smith would dwarf Canelo by some distance for the first time in his career, with Smith’s power punches artillery for the Mexican to avoid.

The Liverpool-born fighter’s long frame would give Canelo the room to work his devastating body attacks in riposte and, if agreed, could open up an opportunity for Canelo to fight in the United Kingdom.

The pair would comfortably sell-out Anfield Football Stadium – Smith’s venue of choice – as DAZN look for exposure in a new territory following their deal to expand this year.

Gennady Golovkin

Despite these two duking it out for 24 rounds previously, a trilogy fight between Canelo and Kazakh star Gennady “GGG” Golovkin would still gain huge, unbeaten interest.

The pair have have a rivalry dating back to 2017 with a controversial draw and a contested Canelo win separating them over a year of tussling for middleweight superiority.

They may have led the race to take the reins off Floyd Mayweather for the No. 1 pound-for-pound in the sport when they unified the 160-pound titles, but a couple of years on and the interest has dwindled slightly.

The two dust-ups with Canelo are the only blemishes on Golovkin’s record, and despite reaching the ripe age of 38 he has continued to chase the trilogy money-fight with the Mexican superstar.

Golovkin is no doubt on the slide and Canelo is improving. There are obvious arguments for this fight being unnecessary, but DAZN will know the numbers it will generate, and it could prove too hard to turn down.

Artur Beterbiev

Dangerous Russian fighter Artur Beterbiev is arguably the biggest threat to Canelo. But it is often said that the biggest risks receive the greatest rewards.

Beterbiev is the king of the light-heavyweight division and with Canelo showing his willingness to climb up to 175-pounds late last year in decapitating Sergey Kovalev, the 35-year-old will fancy his chances in luring Alvarez into combat.

He is a huge puncher – the only active world champion with a 100% KO ratio, with all 15 of his wins ending with his opponent unable to continue.

Beterbiev will be eager to secure this bout before Father Time comes knocking. Canelo can’t be accused of cherry-picking opponents at particular moments in their career, but the longer we wait for this fight the more chance Canelo has to get the win.

Timing is everything

Boxing, above all, is about timing. Inside and outside the ring, careers can hinge on the decisions made in this unforgiving sport.

Once the fight game has regained its footing after this coronavirus hiatus Canelo will charge head-first in an attempt to secure his legacy as one of the greatest pound-for-pound stars to grace the ring.

Whether he achieves this feat is down to timing and the quality of the dance partners that choose to join him.