There’s really not much that Canelo Alvarez isn’t capable of. The Mexican ends an indifferent 2020 at the top of the tree after yet another masterful display, beating Callum Smith in Texas on Saturday.
Canelo (54-1-2, 36 KOs) negated a seven inch height and eight inch reach disadvantage to rip away the WBA ‘Super’ and Ring Magazine Super Middleweight titles from Smith’s grasp, whilst also claiming the vacant WBC crown, with a dominant display at the Alamodome.
Joe Calzaghe summed up perfectly the talent of Alvarez, stating post-fight, “He makes fighters look average and he’s getting better and better.”
Previously undefeated, Smith (27-1, 19 KOs) was considered in some circles as the number one at 168lbs heading into the bout, but it was difficult to award the Brit any more than three rounds.
Canelo outgunned his rival in all departments and limited Smith’s success with his defensive prowess, making him miss and targeting head and body with vicious combinations.
The 30-year-old specifically targeted Smith’s left arm to restrict his ability with his left hook, a key weapon in his arsenal, with ‘Mundo’ suffering a left tricep injury, as a result of the relentless pressure.
“He closes the ground up without throwing, he sets little traps so he keeps you thinking constantly and before you know it he’s closed the ground up,” Smith told DAZN post-fight.
“His jab was really good, he rides a lot of the shots, he’s very hard to nail clean, his jab surprised me a little bit.”
Canelo has now beaten his sixth Brit and his second Smith brother, after stopping Liam Smith in 2016, and his outstanding resume is arguably worthy enough of handing him status as the best fighter on the planet, with his only blemish against Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2013.
It’s going to take some fighter to curtail his run and solve the puzzle, with the Mexican star now intent on unifying his belts at 168lbs.
“I did a great job. I’m the best in the world. I showed what I am. I feel great at 168,” Canelo told DAZN post-fight.
“I want to unify, I want all the belts. It doesn’t matter who is there. I showed to the world that I fight against the best.”
Below are some of the options for Canelo’s next assignment:
Canelo is ordered to face WBC number two contender and mandatory challenger, Avni Yildirim within 90 days and that appears to be his most likely fight next.
The pair were ordered to meet prior to Canelo choosing to face Smith and the Turkish native is set to receive the chance of a lifetime, with the four-weight world champion eyeing a showdown in Mexico in late February, according to BoxingScene.com and The Athletic.
Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) is a solid contender and former world title challenger having lost to Anthony Dirrell by technical decision in February 2019, although Canelo would be a heavy favourite if they were to meet.
Canelo is expected to take on the 29-year-old, prior to a bout on Cinco De Mayo weekend in May.
Billy Joe Saunders
Canelo is targeting unifications and WBO champion, Billy Joe Saunders is in with every chance of a showdown in 2021.
The pair were set to clash in May prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Brit then choosing to rule himself out of a proposed September clash.
Saunders comfortably beat Martin Murray earlier this month and called for a clash with Canelo in the aftermath of his victory over Smith.
The unbeaten 31-year-old is believed to have the slick style and southpaw awkwardness to cause his rival problems, just as Erislandy Lara did in a contentious split decision defeat in 2014.
At his optimum, as shown in a career-best performance to date against David Lemieux in 2017, he can be imperious and has already said he believes his approach would cause Canelo trouble.
— billyjoesaunders (@bjsaunders_) December 20, 2020
Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) demonstrated glimpses of his best form against Murray and will need a performance closer to that of his showing against Lemieux to go one better than his compatriot managed to on Saturday night.
IBF Super Middleweight world champion, Caleb Plant is the other option if Canelo remains intent on unifying the division.
Plant, (20-0, 12 KOs) like Saunders is also undefeated, having made two defences of his crown, most recently securing a tenth round stoppage win over Vincent Feigenbutz in February.
Plant has fast hands, as his alias ‘Sweethands’ suggests, and is accurate with his work, with a slick defence to match and again has been touted as a man that could offset Canelo.
The 28-year-old faces former Super Middleweight title holder, Caleb Truax on January 30 and will be eyeing a clash in May.
The best at 168 😤 pic.twitter.com/wQqmPI8eGH
— CalebPlant (@SweetHandsPlant) December 20, 2020
Like Smith and Saunders, the American lacks the experience of facing the calibre of fighters that Canelo has repeatedly done so for the best part of half a decade, which could work against him.
It may have just been a coincidence that Gennady Golovkin fought the night before his great rival, however it seems far more plausible that a third clash is being eyed, particularly by DAZN.
Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs) knocked down unbeaten, but unheralded mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta four times, before the fight was finally waved off before the start of the eighth round, following a one-sided beatdown.
‘Triple G’ made history with his 21st Middleweight title defence, retaining his IBF crown and proved at 38-years-old that he still has big nights left in the tank.
After a controversial stalemate in the first fight, which many had Golovkin winning, Canelo edged his rival in the rematch by majority decision, however a trilogy will always remain on the table, such is the magnitude of their profiles globally.
Alvarez would likely head in as the favourite at eight years Golovkin’s junior and although he is seemingly eyeing unifications at 168lbs, a third fight with ‘GGG’ would appear to make most sense financially.
It would be intriguing to see if Canelo would drop back down to 160lbs where he is WBA ‘Super’ and WBC Franchise champion or if Golovkin is prepared to break trend and move up in weight.
Canelo will have a deserved rest before deciding on his next move, but at 30-years-old and 57 fights later, it feels like we’ll have the pleasure of seeing this future Hall of Famer in action for several years and legacy-defining bouts to come.