“And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer” ~ Hans Gruber, Die Hard.
Alan Rickman’s character in the 1988 Christmas classic might not have been the first to utter this phrase, but it is his impeccable thespian delivery that comes to mind when the slogan is repeated. This is the situation undisputed super middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez finds himself in. He has completed his conquest of the 168 pound titles in emphatic fashion, stopping Caleb Plant to complete the set. But what now for the Mexican pound-for-pound king?
Despite picking up every significant belt at super middleweight, ‘Canelo’ has not quite cleared out his division. Unbeaten former two-time WBC champion David Benavidez currently sits top of The Ring rankings. Benavidez has never lost a title in the ring, and represents perhaps an even greater challenge than the three champions Alvarez has already dethroned. The big-punching 24-year-old has scored impressive stoppages over Anthony Dirrell, J’Leon Love and Ronald Gavril while compiling a 24-0 record. While ‘Canelo’ far outstrips him for experience, his CV and performance levels make him a worthy challenger should the Mexican remain in the division.
Due to the comprehensive nature of Alvarez’s dominance, there are few other standout options at super middleweight. There is the interesting prospect of renewed hostilities with former middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs, who ‘Canelo’ outpointed in a close fight in 2019. ‘The Golden Child’ has won two bouts since, and has the style to drag Alvarez into another tactical battle. The cagey nature of their first fight perhaps weakens the box office appeal of this match-up though.
In terms of rematches, a trilogy fight with Gennadiy Golovkin is a more intriguing prospect. The current IBF middleweight champion gave ‘Canelo’ two of his toughest nights in 2017 and 2018, with the Mexican having to walk through some brutal shots to clinch a draw and a win from their wars. A thrilling pair of fights, neither of which ended utterly decisively, it is easy to see the appetite for a threequel.
‘Triple G’ has gone 3-0 since his last meeting with ‘Canelo’, and claimed a world title in the process, but at 39 he could be on the slide. He represents a smart pick for Alvarez. A chance to dominate your greatest rival once and for all, in what is sure to be a sizable box office attraction. First, Golovkin must come through a unification bout with WBA champion Ryoto Murata in December.
There are also opportunities to be had in a familiar division. In 2018, then-middleweight champion ‘Canelo’ ventured up to super middleweight for a one-off fight against Rocky Fielding. After picking up the Scouser’s WBA ‘regular’ championship, he returned to middleweight. At the time, most dismissed this as a box-ticking exercise. A chance to take the path of least resistance and pick up a belt, any belt, in another weight class. But as we now know, ‘Canelo’ would return to super middleweight on a permanent basis at a later date to unify the division.
The light heavyweight division was also subject to one of these fact-finding missions. In 2019, ‘Canelo’ won the WBO light heavyweight championship by stopping Sergey Kovalev in eleven rounds. The result netted Alvarez a world title in a fourth weight class, but there is every chance he will return to light heavyweight.
This perhaps represents the most difficult option for the great Mexican. The 175 pound division boasts Artur Beterbiev, the 16-0 WBC and IBF king who has won every fight by stoppage. Unbeaten Dmitry Bivol holds the WBA championship, as well as high-quality wins over Jean Pascal and Joe Smith Jr. The latter fighter is now the WBO titleholder, and is perhaps the most winnable fight should ‘Canelo’ move up. The American does boast power though, as seen when he ended the career of the legendary Bernard Hopkins, and more recently when wiping out Eleider Alvarez.
So there remains a few worlds for ‘Canelo’ to conquer. While he could retire tomorrow, comfortable in the knowledge he would be considered an all-time great, at 31 this is unlikely. Instead there will be more conquests, more historic battles and undoubtedly more world titles to come. This next chapter of the ‘Canelo’ story might just be the most exciting yet.