Ranking Canelo’s Best Wins Ahead Of His Showdown With Dmitry Bivol

Ahead of his light-heavyweight title fight with Bivol, we try to rank Saul Alvarez's ten best career wins
06:55, 07 May 2022

From his professional debut in Mexico as a baby-faced 15-year-old to this weekend’s showdown with Dmitry Bivol in Nevada as a baby-faced 31-year-old, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez has fought a veritable who’s who of top quality opponents.

Across 17 years, Canelo has defeated 16 world champions and a host of top-rated contenders, suffering just one defeat in 59 bouts - against Floyd Mayweather almost a decade ago. Ahead of Canelo’s return to light-heavyweight on Saturday night against WBA champion Bivol, we’ve decided to rank the Mexican superstar’s greatest nights in the ring.

10. Shane Mosley - May 2012 (UD 12)

 With just two wins in his last six fights, former three-weight champion Shane Mosley was a shadow of his former self when he took on Canelo in 2012. Nevertheless, ‘Sugar’ was still a significant assessment of the young star’s talents and provided him with the first truly big name on his resume. 

Mosley looked far more up for it than he had in his previous few fights but youth ultimately trumped experience and Canelo ran away with a comfortable win on the scorecards.

9. Billy Joe Saunders - May 2021 (RTD 8)

Like another British boxer further down this list, Billy Joe Saunders was supposed to provide Alvarez with a tough night’s work when they met in Arlington last year. However, it turned out to be a much easier affair than many expected with Canelo sussing out Saunders’ awkward style, which had given several top level operators fits in previous fights, almost immediately. 

The fight ended emphatically as Canelo inflicted multiple fractures on the southpaw’s eye socket, bringing the fight to a premature end. The previously unbeaten Saunders hasn’t returned to the ring since.   

8. James Kirkland - May 2015 (KO 3) 

Still rebuilding from his defeat to Mayweather and returning to the ring from a ten-month lay-off, Canelo took on the hard-hitting James Kirkland in Houston in May, 2015. The Texan was riding the wave of five straight wins, all finished within the distance, and hadn’t tasted defeat for four years. After throwing more than 300 punches between them, Canelo ended Kirkland’s resistance in the third round with a peach of a right hand that left him crumpled on the canvas.  

7. Caleb Plant - November 2021 (TKO 11)

For the very first time, all four of the world super middleweight belts were on the line in one fight. The stakes could not have been higher and the personal dispute between the two led to an uncharacteristically tense build up to a Canelo fight night. 

The previously unbeaten Plant fought admirably, giving his opponent plenty to think about, but Canelo cemented his place as the consensus pound-for-pound number one by knocking ‘Sweethands’ down twice in the eleventh en route to a stoppage victory.

6. Daniel Jacobs - May 2019 (UD 12)

 Daniel Jacobs gave Canelo all he could handle when the pair met in 2019 and came into the fight on the back of having beaten three unbeaten opponents in a row since his 2017 defeat to Gennadiy Golovkin. Canelo showed off his immense prizefighting talents against ‘the Miracle Man’, keeping the Brownsville-born fighter at arm’s length with some terrific counters, heavy body-punching and excellent jab work. The fight was close but Canelo more than earned his unanimous decision win.  

 5. Austin Trout - April 2013 (UD 12) 

Despite a pantheon of excellent wins inside the squared circle for Alavarez, against Austin Trout in 2013, the still learning Alvarez was given one of the hardest nights of his career. There was a bit of history in the build-up to this super welterweight unification, with Trout having beaten Canelo’s older brother Rigoberto to win his title two years prior, putting the Mexican on a path of vengeance. Alvarez threw far fewer punches than his American opponent but landed where it counted, winning a unanimous decision to set up a showdown with Mayweather.  

4. Callum Smith - December 2020 (UD 12)

 Previously unbeaten super-middleweight champion Callum Smith was considered by many a real banana skin for Canelo when they did battle in San Antonio at the end of 2020 - at the very least, the Liverpudlian’s six-foot-three frame and natural reach and height advantages would ask new questions of Alvarez. It wasn’t to be. In the end, it was a 119-109 rout on two scorecards and 117-111 on the other for the Mexican.

3. Miguel Cotto - November 2015 (UD 12)

 Though he was no longer considered to be in his prime, Puerto Rican great Miguel Cotto had found himself enjoying something of a resurgence when he collided with Alvarez in Las Vegas. 

Since 2012 defeats to Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout, the four-weight champion had won three in a row by stoppage and provided something of a litmus test for Canelo. However, Alvarez was far too sharp for Cotto on the night and cruised to an easy unanimous decision win on the judges’ scorecards.

2. Sergey Kovalev - November 2019 (KO 11)

Fresh from defending his middleweight baubles against Daniel Jacobs in May, Canelo took the brave step of moving up to light-heavyweight to take on the fearsome WBO champion Sergey Kovalev. 

While the Russian elected to box, sticking behind his jab and concentrating on defence, Canelo elected to chop down the bigger man, wearing him out with crunching body shots and seemingly laser-guided blows to the head. The end came in the 11th when a left hook landed high on Kovalev's head, leaving him open against the ropes and was put into a heap when another right caught him flush on the chin. 

1. Gennady Golovkin - September 2018 (MD 12)

Coming nearly a year to the day since their controversial draw in 2017, Canelo and Gennadiy Golovkin met once again at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. 

In the first meeting, Canelo was too sluggish and too shy to get the nod over GGG, and was perhaps lucky to escape with a draw, but in the rematch he changed tack. The Mexican was more aggressive, quicker and showed more variety to outwork Golovkin and keep him off balance, ultimately handing the Kazakh his first loss in a 40-fight career, ending a stretch of eight years in which he had held a middleweight title. 

Honourable Mentions: Liam Smith, Erislandy Lara, Matthew Hatton, Carlos Baldomir, Amir Khan

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