Jermall Charlo, Badou Jack And The Long Road To Finding Canelo's Next Opponent

It's usually straightforward finding someone to fight Saul Alvarez, but not this time
11:00, 23 Jun 2023

If you’re a boxer between middleweight and cruiserweight, there is one guy you want to fight above all others. No matter the destination of the world title belts, the most lucrative option will always be a fight with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

The current undisputed super middleweight champion, Alvarez transcends belts. Like Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Mike Tyson before him, simply being him is enough to generate pay-per-view buys. Fighting the Mexican is a career-making moment. Beating him is an enduring achievement that will live forever.


But who will ‘Canelo’ fight next? Unusually, there is no single candidate for the biggest money spot in boxing as it stands. While Alvarez’s career is often planned so meticulously that we know what he’s planning several fights ahead, this time there are a number of options open that are yet to be taken.

WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol was long thought to be the next man to oppose ‘Canelo’. Having defeated Alvarez via unanimous decision in May 2022, the Russian was touted for a rematch. While Bivol was initially reluctant, a WBC ruling preventing him from unifying his title with Artur Beterbiev in an undisputed championship clash made the ‘Canelo’ bout an attractive one. After all, if he couldn;’t hold all the belts, he could at least maximise his earnings.

That bout, once so inevitable, now seems to be on the backburner. Heavily-rumoured in the build-up to Alvarez’s unanimous decision win over John Ryder in May, now Bivol looks unlikely to fight ‘Canelo’ next. Bivol’s manager, Vadim Kornilov, spoke earlier this month about not receiving a signable offer from Alvarez’s team and that appears to have jeopardised this bout for now. Given how desperate ‘Canelo’ is to get his win back though, you can expect this one to be revived somewhere down the line.


Badou Jack was another name reportedly in the frame for the lottery bout. A three-weight world champion, the wily veteran is a cruiserweight these days. ‘Canelo’ asked the WBC for special dispensation to fight their then-cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu a couple of years back. The fight never materialised and Jack dethroned Makabu for the WBC belt in February.

But apparently the Mexican superstar still harbours ambitions at cruiserweight as he sets his sights on a world title in a fifth weight class. Just don’t expect him to actually go up to the 200-pound limit to do it. Jack has gone on record as saying he turned down an offer to fight ‘Canelo’ when he was told he would have to boil down to 180-pounds to secure the bout. Quite rightly baulking at a weight cut that would be downright unsafe, it looks like Alvarez vs Jack is firmly off the table.

Now another challenger has emerged, with WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo seeming like the front runner to face off with the undisputed super middleweight champion. Charlo, the brother of undisputed light middleweight king Jermell, is reportedly set to face ‘Canelo’ on 16th September, Mexican independence day. The fight is likely to take place at 168-pounds, meaning Alvarez’s titles rather than Charlo’s belt will be on the line. 

It’s a fight that ‘Canelo’ is expected to win, given the fact Charlo hasn’t fought since a ropey victory over Juan Macias Montiel in 2021. While he is unbeaten, Charlo has been sidelined by mental health struggles in recent times. While you feel a tune-up would be conducive considering the sensitive nature of his absence, a bout with ‘Canelo’ is hard to say no to. One hopes this isn’t an unedifying spectacle motivated purely by money. Charlo must be closely monitored to ensure he is physically and mentally able to carry out such a major fight.

There are other bouts that continue to circle Alvarez’s orbit. A fight with fellow Mexican superstar David Benavidez, the unbeaten two-time world champion, is a dream fight for aficionados everywhere. Meanwhile, you sense the Bivol and Jack narratives aren’t quite over. But it has been an unusual build to an Alvarez fight. Usually it’s a straightforward task to get an opponent in the ring with him. But, if it is Charlo he fights in September, it has been a long road to find someone to take on one of the most sought-after roles in the sport.

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