Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez had it all too easy as he dismantled Jermell Charlo in defence of his undisputed super middleweight championship on Saturday night. The size difference told, as many thought it would when the unified light middleweight king moved up two divisions to challenge ‘Canelo’. Charlo was decked on the way to a wide points decision in a fight that ultimately felt hollow.
At the age of 33, Alvarez cannot afford more nights like this. Not that he was in any way bad. The Mexican superstar did what was necessary to get the victory, albeit without particularly dazzling anyone. But the career of arguably this generation’s finest fighter shouldn’t go out with a whimper, but a bang. ‘Canelo’ must seek out the biggest and best challenges as he nears the end of his illustrious story.
David Benavidez is one such avenue, though the fight hasn’t happened for so long you wonder if ‘Canelo’ is at all interested. Alvarez’s immense popularity in the Spanish-speaking world and Benavidez’s own family background make this a natural for Cinco De Mayo. The fact Benavidez is unbeaten and has twice held the WBC belt Alvarez currently wields adds spice. At super middleweight at least, this is the best fight out there.
‘Canelo’ himself is still not over the 2022 defeat he tasted at the hands of WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol. The only active fighter to have beaten him, the Russian took Alvarez apart in their first encounter. A victory in a rematch would be a tall order, but it is on such foundations that legacies are made.
The most intriguing prospect is the one ‘Canelo’ shot out of the water at the post-Charlo press conference. Undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford has proposed moving up to face him. After watching ‘Canelo’ toy with a smaller foe in Charlo, one questions the logic of this clash. The undisputed super middleweight champion has done so publicly himself. But there’s more to this one than meets the eye.
Firstly, Crawford by his own admission is more suited to making light middleweight these days than welterweight. In effect then, he’d be making the same jump as Charlo. Also, with all due respect to ‘Iron Man’, ‘Bud’ is a far more accomplished fighter. After decimating Errol Spence Jr, he is arguably the pound-for-pound number one. The fact this is a platform ‘Canelo’ used to hold should inspire Alvarez to reconsider.
After all, remember Roy Jones Jr? The icon moved up through the weights from middleweight all the way to heavyweight, beating John Ruiz for the WBA crown in 2003. His leap was greater than that of either Charlo or the one proposed by Crawford. Crawford-’Canelo’ could possibly offer the greatest boxing achievement seen in this era.
And Alvarez would be fighting to stop it. Aren’t those stakes higher than they were when he fought John Ryder and Gennady Golovkin in recent fights? Than his effort against Charlo? Crawford would bring the best out in ‘Canelo’ and put more focus on one of his fights than perhaps anyone since Floyd Mayweather in 2013. The weight issue is considerable but not insurmountable. Perhaps Crawford really is the best option out there for Alvarez.
This certainly feels true if the Benavidez fight can’t be made. Given the match-up in weight and the feel of a Mexican derby, that bout would arguably be bigger. But beyond that? ‘Bud’ might just hold the key to the legacy of ‘Canelo’.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change