Following David Benavidez’s obliteration of Demetrius Andrade in Las Vegas, all eyes reverted back to unified super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs). Fans are eager to learn who Alvarez will face next on Cinco de Mayo weekend 2024.
Former WBC light middleweight champion Sergio Mora laid out an intriguing game plan for Canelo following Alvarez’s decisive decision win against Gennadiy Golovkin in the third fight of their trilogy in September 2022.
Mora stated it was time for Canelo “to go from Triple G to Triple B” (the three “B”s referring to Dmitry Bivol, Artur Beterbiev, and the aforementioned David Benavidez).
More recently, however, a fourth “B” has entered the Canelo conversation, and that “B” is Terence “Bud” Crawford.
Should Alvarez follow Mora’s map for his career and legacy, here is what the fights could look like:
David Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs)
If Canelo allowed boxing fans to pick his next opponent, an overwhelming majority would choose Benavidez. Fans have been clamoring for Canelo/Benavidez for years. Benavidez is the #1 rated super middleweight, holds the WBC Interim super middleweight title, and has handily earned the opportunity to face Canelo.
Nicknamed “The Mexican Monster” by none other than Mike Tyson himself, Benavidez’s strengths are his youth (26 years, compared to Alvarez’s war-hardened 33 years), his explosiveness, and his concussive power. In short, the expectation is Canelo/Benavidez will be a brawl for the ages. Canelo brings to the table his experience, ring IQ, and an impressive amount of power himself.
Before being pummeled, Andrade actually had success in his first two rounds against Benavidez, using his speed, movement, and angles, and giving Benavidez different looks. Unfortunately, he was unable to handle Benavidez’s staggering power.
Canelo, on the other hand, has one of the toughest chins in the sport. By building on what Andrade started, Canelo could carry out Andrade’s game plan to beat Benavidez.
Canelo’s chance of beating Benavidez; 65%
Artur Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs)
When Canelo announced he was pursuing belts in the light heavyweight division following his completion of unifying the super middleweight belts, Beterbiev seemed to be the light heavyweight fighter fans wanted to see Alvarez face first.
Beterbiev’s fan-friendly style is not too dissimilar from Benavidez. They both have stunning power, and they both move forward no matter what. Actually, come to think of it, Benavidez/Beterbiev would be a hell of a fight too.
What sets Beterbiev apart is his age. He will be 39 in January, an almost ancient age in boxing, and, despite having a perfect record some fans have reported seeing slippage in his recent fights.
As boxing pundits are fond of saying, Father Time is undefeated. Beterbiev’s biggest asset is his power. Power is reportedly the last thing to leave a fighter, meaning Beterbiev remains a threat until the day he announces retirement.
Canelo’s chance of beating Beterbiev: 70%
Dmitry Bivol (21 – 0, 11 KOs)
Canelo vs Beterbiev may have been the light heavyweight fight fans wanted, but Canelo vs Bivol is the light heavyweight fight fans got. Spoiler: it wasn’t pretty (unless you’re a Bivol fan, in which case it was probably beautiful).
A master tactician, Bivol overwhelmed Canelo, outboxed Canelo, and made Canelo look just plain ordinary. Canelo’s performance against Bivol went from bad to worse, as he could not seem to make any adjustments to counter Bivol’s dominance.
Since that night, plausible excuses have leaked, suggesting everything from injuries to a vegan diet as being the culprit in Canelo’s subpar performance.
While Canelo’s pride seems unable to let go of the idea of a Bivol rematch, many are convinced it would be “Repeat” and not “Revenge”, pointing out, as former WBO junior welterweight champion Chris Algieri is fond of saying, “weight classes are there for a reason.”
Across the pond from the Benavidez/Andrade match, however, another undisputed champion moved up in weight.
Irish superstar Katie Taylor moved up for a second time from lightweight to light welterweight in her rematch against Chantelle Cameron. Taylor, in their first fight, looked similarly befuddled against Cameron, just as Canelo did against Bivol.
Yet in the rematch Taylor made adjustments and, in winning a Majority Decision, defied the expectations of many who felt her moving up to light welterweight was a bridge too far for her to be successful.
If Taylor could reclaim her glory by beating Cameron, could Canelo do the same, and defeat Bivol in a rematch?
Canelo’s chance of beating Bivol: 40%
Terence “Bud” Crawford (40 – 0, 31 KOs)
After welterweight champion Terence Crawford unified the division with his propulsive knockout victory against Errol Spence, Jr. in July, “Bud” soon found his name in the mix of possible Canelo opponents.
Canelo seemingly brushed off the idea of facing Crawford, stating he would not get credit for beating him, as Crawford would have to come up too high in weight. While this is certainly true in some boxing circles, Crawford would not necessarily be moving up much higher in weight to fight Alvarez than Canelo did when he knocked out Sergey Kovalev in their Light Heavyweight championship in 2019.
A Canelo/Crawford matchup should also attract the attention of the all-important casual fans, who would be excited by the name recognition of both fighters, and not necessarily as aware of the weight variables going into the bout.
Does Terence Crawford honestly have a chance against Canelo Alvarez (other than the proverbial “Puncher’s chance”)? Well, no one’s ever lost money (yet) betting on Crawford. Bud is widely acknowledged as a future Hall Of Famer and a pound-for-pound great. If any one person in the current boxing landscape has a chance of chasing greatness to the extent Canelo has already done in securing his own legacy, it’s Terence Crawford.
Canelo’s chance of beating Crawford; 70%
No matter who Canelo faces next, some fans will love it, and some will hate it.
Any choice Canelo makes these days seems to fall under “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” Canelo could fight Thanos, and some would just accuse him of ducking The Hulk. But going forward, what may be best for Canelo’s career and his fans is taking Mora’s advice, and moving on from the classic era of Triple-G to the even more explosive era of Quadruple-B.