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Who Can Dethrone Canelo Right Now?

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Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s systematic dismantling of Caleb Plant officially crowned him as the King of the super middleweight division and arguably the sport boxing. However, before the post-fight press conference could take place, the boxing community had already started chattering on who could potentially dethrone the newly coronated King of boxing.

Names of potential opponents who can probably defeat Canelo started spewing out of fans’ mouths and pundits faster than an auctioneer spitting bids. Fighters ranging from the Middleweight to Light Heavyweight divisions were mentioned, people like Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade, and Artur Beterbiev. Topping the list of the most mentioned names were David Benavidez and a potential third fight with Gennadiy Golovkin.

Saying that Canelo Alvarez is fighting at an elite level is stating the obvious. Right now, there doesn’t seem like there is anyone between middleweight and light heavyweight who can beat Canelo Alvarez. But this is boxing, and anything can happen within the squared circle.

All the noise of who can potentially dethrone Canelo got me wondering, is there anyone who can beat Canelo RIGHT NOW? Right now, as in this version of Canelo. The undisputed champion of the super middleweight division that has conquered four divisions throughout his career. This Canelo has beaten 17 former world champions, including Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Gennadiy Golovkin, and Sergey Kovalev.

Canelo has been boxing professionally since the age of fifteen. And at the age 31, he doesn’t seem to be losing a step. On the contrary, Alvarez finds a way to win and always shows a better version of himself with each outing. So, I decided to do an in-depth analysis of five fighters who could face the King and how they would fare if they were to face Canelo in his next outing.

Jermall Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs):

Unbeaten, two-time world champion Jermall “The Hitman” Charlo seems like an opponent who can beat Canelo Alvarez. At 31 years old, he is a two-division world champion who has successfully defended the WBC middleweight title six times. Charlo is a sound boxer with respectable punching power who excels when using his long reach and controlling his opponents at the center of the ring. He knows how to put combinations together and throws the last punch of each combination with bad intentions.

Who here thinks Jermall could defeat Canelo?

He is 6’1″ tall and has a reach of 73 ½”, a 5″ height and 3″ reach advantage over Canelo Álvarez. However, physical stature alone won’t be enough to beat “King” Canelo. Canelo is used to being the smaller guy in fights. Both Callum Smith and Caleb Plant had a significant height and reach advantages over Canelo, and they still struggled to keep the crafty Mexican at bay.

Charlo is skilled enough to make a tough fight for Canelo, but that’s all it will be. Charlo likes to fight in the center of the ring, and his only defense is to tighten his guard and weather his opponent’s combinations. He doesn’t create angles and usually retreats straight back when attacked, leaving him vulnerable for over-hand rights, a punch Canelo throws well. Charlo doesn’t like getting hit to the body, a weakness Korobov exploited during their fight. Look for Canelo to capitalize on this as he has done with previous opponents. However, Charlo attacks the body effectively also, and he should make it his primary game plan to slow Canelo down.

Additionally, Charlo has a powerful uppercut that he needs to employ after he attacks Canelo’s body to stand a chance at beating the undisputed champion. While Charlo will succeed early, Canelo will wear him down with a relentless body attack and target the head.

Result: Canelo wins this fight in the championship rounds by TKO.

Demetrius Andrade: (30-0, 18 Kos):

Demetrius Andrade holds the WBO version of the middleweight title. The 33-year-old southpaw is a two-time, two-division champion who can make serious trouble for Canelo if he’s focused and executes a perfect fight plan.

Andrade too has a significant height and reach advantage over Canelo. However, unlike the other tall and long opponents Canelo has faced, Andrade knows how to use his reach advantage and shoots long straight lefts at the end of his jab that always finds their mark as he did in the opening round of the Liam Williams fight.

Would you REALLY rather see Canelo meet Andrade next, over a third GGG fight?

Would you REALLY rather see Canelo meet Andrade next, over a third GGG fight?

Andrade closes gaps quickly and doesn’t give his opponent a chance to set up as he did in the opening round against Luke Keeler. He arguably has the best footwork of the potential opponents on this list and knows how to create angles. His combinations include attacks to the body and the head consecutively.

I like Andrade to beat Canelo over any other opponent on this list, but he won’t. My problem with “Boo-Boo” Andrade is that he doesn’t use his arsenal to the fullest. He often time lets his foot off the gas and lets his opponents linger longer than he should. He is content with just winning instead of dominating. And that is not going to be enough to beat Canelo. If he wants to win against Canelo, he will have to take the fight Canelo, and I don’t see Andrade committing to that kind of fight.

My second knock against Andrade is that he hasn’t fought anyone near the caliber of Canelo Alvarez. In a career spanning 13 years and 30 fights, Andrade has yet to face an opponent close  to Canelo. That lack of experience will be hard to overcome against a fighter of Canelo’s caliber. Canelo will struggle with Andrade’s footwork and angles early in the fight. Still, he will eventually make the necessary adjustments to walk Andrade down, get on the inside and break Andrade down from the torso on up.

Result: This fight goes the distance, and Canelo wins by a decision.

Artur Beterbiev (16-0, 16 KOs):

Light Heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev has been mentioned as a likely opponent for Canelo’s next fight. The Russian knockout artist is more than a suitable opponent for Alvarez and is considered among  the most feared men in boxing.

Beterbiev hits so hard that sparring partner Lionell Thompson likened it to getting hit by a car. He’s an aggressive fighter that will look to apply pressure and try to get Canelo out early. Beterbiev’s menacing power isn’t something Canelo hasn’t seen before. I seem to recall Canelo’s chin holding up well to Gennadiy Golovkin’s power the two times they faced each other.

Beterbiev is an accomplished fighter who is worthy of a title shot against Canelo. However, his fight game is flawed. Beterbiev has the tendency to raise his chin and open his guard during exchanges. As a result, he has visited the canvas twice against lesser opponents.

Look for Canelo to capitalize on this and land his famous uppercut during these exchanges. Ultimately, Beterbiev’s “Achilles Heel” will be his inexperience. He only has Sixteen fights, neither of which have gone the distance.

Result: Canelo wins by Knockout in the middle to late rounds.

Gennadiy Golovkin (41-1, 36KOs):

Gennadiy Golovkin is arguably Canelo’s greatest nemesis. His name is always at the top of potential opponents to fight Canelo Alvarez. The two have produced arguably two of the greatest fights in the last 5 years.

I am one of the few people that would’ve loved to see a third fight between these two warriors. Unfortunately, it’s been four years since their rematch, and I have lost the enthusiasm to see these two fight the third fight. However, if a third fight were to manifest between them, it wouldn’t be the worst fight that can be made.

Golovkin is still a great fighter who poses the greatest threat to Canelo’s reign. Why? Because he is the only fighter to have been in the ring twice with Álvarez. He is the only fighter to have come close to beating boxing’s King in the last six years. He probably knows Álvarez better than any fighter in the world.

While this is true, Canelo improves with each fight. And if they were to fight a third time, Golovkin will be facing a better version of the Canelo he fought four years ago. While Golovkin has won all three of his last outings, he seems to have lost a step since fighting Canelo in 2018. Canelo is riding a train of momentum that will be hard for Golovkin to overcome. Canelo has fought seven title fights since their rematch in 2018 and has dominated his opposition. There are too many good fighters chomping at the bit to fight the undisputed King. I don’t think a third fight between Golovkin and Alvarez takes place right now.

In the meantime, Golovkin must get past Ryota Murata on December 29th. If he does, he can potentially place himself to fight Alvarez later down the road.

Result: Canelo convincingly wins a unanimous decision.

David Benavidez (25-0 22 KOs):

This brings us to David Benavidez. The fight fans and pundits alike have been screaming for this. Benavidez has been fighting professionally since he was 16 years old and has won two world titles at super middleweight. He has a 3′ height and 4″ reach advantage over Álvarez. Benavidez is a menace inside the ring. He is long, can box, and creates angles by positioning himself outside of his opponents’ feet when he puts together combinations. He has electrifying punching power and attacks his opponent’s body better than any fighter mentioned on this list.

Benavidez has all the physical attributes to beat Canelo Álvarez and should beat Canelo Alvarez. However, it’s not what Benavidez does inside the ring that prevents me from giving him the nod against Álvarez. It’s what he does outside the ring that has me apprehensive. Benavidez is prone to bouts of indiscipline. On August 15th, 2020, he was stripped of his title before his match vs. Roamer Angulo for weighing 3lbs over the super middleweight limit.

In September 2018, he tested positive for cocaine during a random drug screening by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA).

Most recently, he was one pound over the 168lbs limit before his fight against Kyrone Davis. Although he “technically” wasn’t overweight (a one-pound overage is usually allowed in non-title/non-title eliminator bouts), Benavidez admits he will take whatever advantage he is given to make the weight cut comfortable.

To beat Canelo Álvarez, a fighter must be “on” in every aspect of boxing and not look for shortcuts. Benavidez’s elite boxing skills won’t be enough to beat Canelo. He must be totally disciplined in every part of his life, both mentally and physically. There are very few fighters who match Canelo’s work ethic. Álvarez has even criticized his stablemate, Ryan Garcia, for not being fully dedicated to boxing.

Additionally, Benavidez likes to stand straight up and lower his guard during exchanges. Look for Canelo to exploit these flaws and attack Benavidez right down the middle with body shots and uppercuts.

Result: Canelo Alvarez wins by decision and maybe a late stoppage if Benavidez can’t weather the body shots.

My Take:

Every fighter on this list possesses all the skills necessary to beat Canelo. However, Canelo Álvarez is fighting at a level above all of them. His work ethic is second to none. His ability to adjust during the fight is what sets him apart from the other fighters. Every fighter Canelo has beaten thought they had a plan to beat Canelo. And every time you saw their plan crumble round after round as Canelo stalked and broke them down.

I’ll remind you that Canelo has been fighting since he was 15 years old, and at the age of 31, he is in his prime and doubles the experience of the fighters mentioned above.

Canelo has fought 4 times in the last year alone. These potential opponents fought a combined total of 6 fights in 2021.

Canelo has been criticized for not fighting the best talent in these divisions. But for all these fighters, except Golovkin, Canelo will be their first elite-level opponent. Canelo Álvarez isn’t some boxing Super King who is unbeatable. However, in my opinion, there isn’t anyone in his kingdom that can take his throne right now.

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