Canelo Alvarez has taken care of business against Caleb Plant, winning via 11th round stoppage to fully unify the super middleweight division, becoming undisputed champion.
Canelo (57-1-2, 39 KO) says he wants to come back in May 2022 — you can expect May 7 to be the exact target date — and he’ll as always have no shortage of interested potential opponents.
So what now for Canelo Alvarez?
What’s next for Canelo Alvarez?
What comes next depends on what weight Canelo wants to fight at, and most likely, what the biggest fight available to him is going to be, whether that be at 168 or 175. (You can dismiss any return to middleweight, Canelo is never going to fight at 160 again.)
Options at super middleweight
- Gennadiy Golovkin: This really might still be the biggest fight Canelo can make at the moment, though that could change by the time any discussion gets real. Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KO) is going to turn 40 next April, and he has a legit fight slated for Dec. 29 in Japan, when he looks to unify his IBF middleweight title with the WBA belt held by Ryota Murata. GGG would also have to accept that he’ll need to move up to a full 168; Canelo has no reason to budge on a catchweight of 164 or 165 or whatever, because he’s the clear money man now, not Golovkin. Canelo has been lukewarm at best on the idea of fighting GGG for a third time — which is why it hasn’t happened despite DAZN pushing very hard for the trilogy bout when both were signed there — but if the money talks a lot louder than it does anywhere else, if Golovkin agrees to go to a full 168, then yeah, it can happen.
- Ryota Murata: If Murata upsets Golovkin, he might be the play. Canelo and Murata had serious talks in early 2020, which collapsed, but there was real interest there. When Canelo was still with Golden Boy, their president, Eric Gomez, said that Canelo really did want to fight abroad to raise his global brand value even more, and Japan and a fight with Murata were discussed. Things may have changed since then, of course, but Murata (16-2, 13 KO) is a major star in Japan, and there could be massive money in Canelo going over there for a fight. It would have to be worth it, of course, and the fight isn’t nearly as big in the U.S. as it is in Japan.
- Jermall Charlo: The reigning WBC middleweight titlist, Charlo (32-0, 22 KO) may really be the best name at Premier Boxing Champions can offer Canelo if they’d like to work with him again for his next fight, and obviously they would like to, just like everyone else would; nobody doesn’t want to promote a Canelo fight. The 31-year-old Charlo has no attractive in-house options at 160 with PBC, but has stated his desire for a big fight, including saying he was interested in the Canelo-Plant winner. Jermall may not be a super-duper star, but he’s got more name value than anyone else PBC have on hand.
- Demetrius Andrade: I mean, we might as well mention him. Another middleweight titleholder who would have to move up, Andrade (30-0, 18 KO) could come into play if, quite frankly, Matchroom Boxing and DAZN are willing to make Canelo a monster offer. But consider Andrade a serious darkhorse.
- David Benavidez: Former two-time 168 lb titleholder Benavidez (24-0, 21 KO) will be the choice of a lot of diehard fans who, you know, know who he is. Benavidez, 24, fights late replacement opponent Kyrone Davis in a Nov. 13 Showtime main event, which isn’t exactly a marquee matchup, and neither was the originally scheduled bout against Jose Uzcategui. But Benavidez is in a good spot here, you have to figure. He’s got PBC behind him, he’s settled at 168 (unless he doesn’t make weight again), and he’s the clear biggest stylistic and physical threat to Canelo among the fighters already at super middleweight. If nothing goes wrong against Davis next weekend, he’s a real contender to land the fight.
- Anthony Dirrell: Dirrell (34-2-2, 25 KO) wants the fight, of course, and tried to use his “co-feature” slot on the PPV undercard to pitch for the idea. It’s not a good idea. Dirrell is 37, and despite his KO win over Marcos Hernandez (a fighter best utilized to test prospects, not fight contenders) on Saturday, he’s looked clearly past his prime in recent outings of more substance. He lost clearly to Benavidez in 2019, had a bit of trouble with Avni Yildirim of all people in the fight before that, and in February of this year, went to a really disappointing draw with Kyrone Davis. Don’t blame Dirrell for wanting the fight or calling for it, but do blame everyone who makes it happen if it actually happens, because there are many, many better options.
- Zach Parker: 27-year-old Parker (22-0, 16 KO), a British fighter, is in prime position to get a WBO mandatory order, and he also fought on Saturday, stopping Marcus Morrison in four rounds. Parker is not a fight many people want to see, other than Parker and promoter Frank Warren, obviously. He barely any star power in the UK, let alone globally. I’m also not trying to say he’s not a talented fighter here; I believe he is, but at the Canelo level, you’re trying to sell fights. Canelo does seem to have an affinity for battering the Brits, as he’s given thrashings to Matthew Hatton, Ryan Rhodes, Liam Smith, Rocky Fielding, Callum Smith, and Billy Joe Saunders over his career. If the order comes in, Canelo might just vacate the WBO belt. He also might not, but while he wanted badly to be undisputed, how much he cares to have what fights he does dictated to him in order to keep all those belts is another story.
- David Morrell Jr: The reason to include Morrell (5-0, 4 KO) is that the WBA could make an order that Canelo must face their “world” “champion,” the secondary (“regular”) titlist. Morrell is also 23 years old, and while skilled, we’d be talking a pretty monstrous sixth professional fight for him, jumping up in competition from the likes of Mike Gavronski and Mario Cazares to Canelo. It’s almost like the WBA shouldn’t have put that fake belt on him in the first place.
Options at light heavyweight
- Artur Beterbiev: This would be a fight made with Top Rank, who — again, like everyone — would absolutely love to promote a Canelo fight. Beterbiev (16-0, 16 KO) is generally seen as the top light heavyweight in the world, holds the WBC and IBF belts, and has an easy style to sell. He’s a mauler, a bruiser, and has real power. But he’s also 36, has battled injuries over the years, and it’s not hard to imagine Canelo and team thinking they see a chance to pick him off before he more clearly fades. Beterbiev looked human at times in his March win over Adam Deines, and does not have an easy fight coming next, as he faces mandatory challenger Marcus Browne on Dec. 17 in Montreal.
- Marcus Browne: The former U.S. Olympian Browne (24-1, 16 KO) could be an option if he beats Beterbiev and there are no rematch clauses and all that, which there shouldn’t be because it’s a mandatory title defense. Even if he does beat Beterbiev, I have to think there would be bigger options out there for Canelo, including a few at 168 where he’s probably more comfortable for the time being. But worth mentioning in brief, at least, because a not totally impossible scenario does exist, same as Andrade or Murata or, I guess and fear, Dirrell.
- Dmitry Bivol: Bivol (18-0, 11 KO) has wanted to face Canelo for a long time now, and has even offered in the past to go down to 168 to make it happen. There was some talk of them doing a 172 lb catchweight fight in September, after initial Canelo-Plant talks fizzled, and that could be revisited. The WBA light heavyweight titlist doesn’t seem a hugely daunting idea for Canelo even at 175, though. Yes, he’s still in his prime at age 30, unlike the faded Sergey Kovalev who was beaten by Canelo in 2019l, but he’s not a big light heavyweight and he’s not a big puncher, though he is a very good boxer. But I’d consider Bivol a darkhorse because the name value isn’t huge, and the September talks may have mainly just been the Canelo team trying to find any good fight to keep that date, which ultimately they decided not to do, and made the Plant deal for November instead.
- Joe Smith Jr: Another underdog idea. Smith (27-3, 21 KO) might be the right sort of opponent for Canelo, too. He’s got power and he can fight, and he’s got the WBO title, which at some point he has to defend against Umar Salamov. But Smith is also fairly limited for a top level guy, and he does still have a bit of value not only as a titlist, but as the guy who retired Bernard Hopkins, even if that was nearly five years ago now.
Wild card options
- Kamaru Usman: Usman says he wants to do it. But Dana White does not think Usman should try to box Canelo Alvarez, and with good reason.
If I had to make a wager on it, I’d say Canelo will probably stay at super middleweight for the time being and make a defense. Between Benavidez and some names who could come up from 160, there seem easier and possibly bigger fights to make at the weight Canelo prefers right now, rather than going up to 175 (or a catch) to fight the Beterbiev-Browne winner or Bivol.
That said, Canelo has thrown some curveballs over the years, too, so who knows what he’ll want to do? And he truly is in control of his own career, more than any active fighter in the sport today.