Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is the face of modern boxing and the biggest pay-per-view star in the sport. He made his long-awaited return home on May 6th to defend his undisputed super middleweight world championship against mandatory challenger John Ryder. 50,000 raucous Mexicans attended the Estadio Akron in Guadalajara to see their hero return home, and he didn’t disappoint.
It was clear that the British challenger was in over his head from the outset, despite being involved in the biggest fight of his life. The reigning champion was made a -2000 favorite by online bookmakers such as Bovada, which provides a plethora of sports betting and real money casino games, and he lived up to the billing. Canelo comfortably outmaneuvered his latest opponent to secure a unanimous decision victory and extend his record to 59 wins, two defeats and two draws.
Attention now will turn to what is next for boxing’s undisputed number one attraction. With the super middleweight division already unified and the Gennady Golovkin rivalry firmly in the rearview mirror, let’s take a look at who could be next on Saul ‘Canelo’ Avarez’s hit list.
Rematch With Dmitry Bivol
There are only two blemishes on Canelo’s record. The first of those came when the then 23-year-old was dismantled by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a masterful performance in Las Vegas back in 2013. The second came as recently as May 2022, when he was outpointed by the talented Russian light heavyweight king Dmitry Bivol.
Heading into that bout last May, Canelo was once again a heavy favorite, despite the 32-year-old having a superior height and reach advantage. Many expected the Mexican star to find a way to break his bigger opponent down, just as he did with Bivol’s countryman Sergey Kovalev three years prior. However, unlike Kovalev, Bivol wasn’t an ageing veteran with his best days behind him.
When the current super middleweight king stepped up in weight to face off against Kovalev and claim his maiden strap in the light heavyweight division, he struggled against his taller and rangier opponent early on. The Kopeysk native built up a huge lead on the scorecards throughout the early rounds, only for Canelo to find a way to win – as he always seems to do – and land a huge knockout blow. He was unable to find that bout-winning shot against Bivol however, who continued to pump away behind his jab and secure a shocking victory.
Canelo has stated numerous times that he would like to run the bout back with Bivol, and one must imagine that the Russian star would certainly be interested in a rematch. While there is a plethora of options for the 32-year-old in the light heavyweight division, including an undisputed bout against compatriot and knockout artist Artur Beterbiev. While the allure of becoming the undisputed king at 175 pounds will be enticing, the money made from a second bout with Canelo will surely outweigh that, with the winner facing Beterbiev for all the gold down the line.
Facing the Monster
While Canelo Alvarez was attempting to secure more gold at light heavyweight and then handling business with Gennadiy Gennadyevich Golovkin, a new challenger has emerged in his super middleweight division. A challenger in the form of the 6’2 David Benavidez. In the absence of the undisputed champion, El Bandera Roja has gone on a tear, building up a 27-0 record and securing the interim WBC champion in the process.
The Phoenix-born star recently faced off against Caleb Plant in a money-spinning bout to determine the best of the rest at 168 pounds. Plant, a former super middleweight champion and one of Canelo’s former foes represented the biggest test of Benavidez’s career, and it was a test which he passed with flying colors. Many had presumed that Plant would build up an early lead on the scorecards utilizing his jab and impressive footwork, with Benavidez searching for a knockout.
But in the end, the current WBC interim champion showed that he is more than just a one-trick pony. Plant couldn’t garner the respect of his much bigger opponent and his usual stinging jab did nothing to thwart Benavidez’s vaunted offence. As such, the 26-year-old continued to power forward, landing some huge shots and managing to secure a dominant and deserved unanimous decision victory.
Following the bout, Benavidez let the fans know that there is one man he wants to battle, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. And let’s face it, he has certainly earned the opportunity. He has handled every test thrown in front of him and now all that remains is to topple the king.
Whether he can do it, however, and even whether Canelo chooses to go in this direction, remains to be seen.