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Will Canelo Alvarez target Artur Beterbiev if Caleb Plant negotiations fall through?

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If Canelo can’t get the undisputed fight at 168, would the biggest challenge at 175 be in his sights?

Al Bello/Getty Images and Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

No fighter in boxing today gives themselves the breadth of possible opportuntities that come with being able to fight from 160 up to 175 as Canelo Alvarez has proven he can.

He can mix and match and skip and jump around, find a suitable matchup at light heavy, chop down a solid foe in Sergey Kovalev, then stay awhile at super middleweight, and wrack up more Ws against Callum Smith, Avni Yildirim and Billy Joe Saunders. And I’d bet the 30-year-old could still hit 160, where he fought to meet and defeat Daniel Jacobs in 2019.

Canelo’s promoter, the smooth Brit Eddie Hearn, went on the Ak and Barak SiriusXM show, and discussed with the hosts the possibility of the Mexican going back to light heavyweight for his next outing.

Mind you, this discussion is occurring as the powers that be for IBF super middleweight titlist Caleb Plant and Canelo work on hashing out specifics for a Canelo vs Plant undisputed scrap. During times such as those, naturally, reporters will ask about what the Plan B might be.

“I think really it’s just a matter of, everybody really wants the Caleb Plant fight,” Hearn said, noting that discussions have been held but hadn’t yet reach an advanced stage.

Hearn added that he wanted to soon lock down a foe and the specifics for Canelo’s next outing, coming in September, telling the hosts that he was just in Mexico to meet with Alvarez and Reynoso. He was asked about what might happen if a deal with Plant, manager Luis De Cubas and the PBC people, isn’t formed.

“Canelo’s not gonna go back to 160 ever, so his choice is to defend his championships at 168. But I think he just prefers to take on champions. I think moving up (to light heavy) to take on a champion would appeal to him a lot more than just making a defense,” Hearn said.

That would mean Dmitriy Bivol (WBA), Joe Smith (WBO), and Artur Beterbiev (IBF). Hearn shared that a Canelo-Bivol bout would be the easiest to make, as he’s promoted Bivol before. He didn’t say it, but Bivol is a talented but boring fighter, so while the fight itself would be better than many assume, it’s not a “must-buy” event, and Bivol doesn’t promote himself much at all.

Hearn also didn’t say it, but Joe Smith’s promoter Joe DeGuardia would make Hearn work to hammer out a Canelo-Smith battle. But Beterbiev, Hearn said, “is a fight that Canelo simply wants.” The Mexican standout knows Beterbiev can thump hard with either hand. He’s the type to look for challenges that people say he isn’t suited for.

My Three Cents: As a negotiator, it helps you out when you don’t need to make the deal. If you have a decent option — or two or three — then the people on the other side of the table should calibrate their stance accordingly. I don’t know if the Plant people are doing that. But I will say this, a Canelo tussle against the Russian bear Beterbiev would be quite saleable, and, in fact, plenty of hardcore fans would prefer that fight to Canelo-Plant, because they believe Plant has faced sub-stringent competition to this point, and Canelo’s skill set would make that painfully clear.