Canelo Alvarez made his second fight in the first half of 2021 an unforgettable memory, stopping Billy Joe Saunders in front of more than 70,000 fans (apparently) at AT&T Stadium in Texas, unifying the WBC, WBA and super middleweight titles. WBO.
Saunders (30-1, 14 KOs) will surely be back, as an orbital bone injury – believed to be broken – forced his corner to stop the fight after eight rounds. But he won’t be back against Canelo, and there’s only one name on the Mexican superstar’s mind right now when it comes to the sequel.
That would be Caleb Plant, the IBF title holder and the man holding the last piece of the 168 lb puzzle. Canelo has made it clear that this is his plan for the sequel, and promoter Eddie Hearn – although his deal with Canelo has just ended, they could continue working together, the results have been pretty good – said that it was the “only” fight to be fought.
While it would seem unfathomable for the 28-year-old factory (21-0, 12 KOs) not to take the big money fight against Canelo (56-1-2, 38 KOs) next, it should be noted that he there are potential political barriers here. Plant is a Premier Boxing Champions fighter. Canelo is not.
It doesn’t mean the fight can not or habit to happen, but it makes things a lot harder than if Plant was in the Matchroom camp as well, or Canelo was a PBC fighter as well. Canelo almost certainly does not fit sign with PBC; given his overall influence as arguably the biggest star in sports, i think it’s unlikely we’ll ever see him signing long term with anyone again.
Will Canelo agree to do a FOX or Showtime pay-per-view with Plant in September? There’s no reason why not, at least in theory, if he gets the right kind of deal for it. Canelo no longer has a contract with DAZN, but if they make the biggest bid, will Plant and PBC be willing to work with them on the fight?
The biggest money could really do it via the FOX pay-per-view. Canelo hasn’t been in a traditional, standard pay-per-view since his controversial 2018 rematch with Gennadiy Golovkin, which was HBO’s last big boxing event. (His struggles since then have been available on the normal pay-per-view, but obviously it wasn’t the main or most promoted selling point, it was DAZN for its last six fights.)
For what it’s worth:
We will see. If it’s not Plant, for some reason the best options for September would probably be one of two types:
- Demetrius Andrade, the current WBO middleweight title roster, is gaining weight to challenge Canelo, which Andrade has repeatedly said he is ready to do.
- The list of IBF middleweight titles, Gennadiy Golovkin, climbs in weight to challenge Canelo for the third time. It would still be a big fight, but we’ve probably passed its maximum value. Golovkin’s star has faded over the past two and a half years, and he has also shown no real desire to rise to 168. He is currently believed to be focused on unifying with the WBA Ryota Murata title list for December. . Golovkin should get a big offer and probably a lot more concessions from the Canelo side than what the Canelo side will want to do. And there is at least some sense that Canelo may really be too much in his prime for Golovkin, who has passed his own.
But don’t count anything with Canelo. He has thrown curved balls before; nobody expected him to fight Amir Khan in 2016, and for a more difficult surprise, nobody expected him to move up to light heavyweights and fight Sergey Kovalev in 2019. Canelo said he was comfortable and wanted to stay at 168 for now, but if Plant is successful the options are really limited at that weight, definitely limited for a desired return date in September.
On that note, don’t completely forget about WBA light heavyweight title list Dmitry Bivol, who just fought on May 1, is with Matchroom and has repeatedly expressed his willingness to move up to super middleweight for a fight. from Canelo. With 175 more titles, Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr are likely headed for unification in the fall, Bivol would surely love a big fight and crack in Canelo.
- Billy Joe Saunders is unpredictable from here. Look, I’m not the type to shout “QUIT! TO LEAVE! On a legitimate injury. If other boxers want it, that’s their business. I’m not a boxer, I don’t in a case like this. But Saunders is going to have to eat a humble pie, on the one hand, and then he will have to decide what his future holds for him. There have been questions for years about his dedication and focus. He changed promoter several times, changed trainer several times; I’m not trying to kick a man when he’s down, it’s just his story. He had the big fight he wanted and failed. In a way, now we’re going to see what Billy Joe is made of in boxing. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him take a long break, not only because of the injury, but in general. How he responds to that, I have no idea. Saunders has spoken many times about not fighting for money or fame, but for inheritance, and he has seen drops in his career, and who knows? Maybe he comes back strong as hell. Maybe he decides he’s had his time and wants to spend more time with his family.
- Elwin Soto retained his WBO junior flyweight title with a controversial victory over Japanese veteran Katsunari Takayama (32-9, 12 KOs), and the The most obvious, biggest and best fight for Soto would be against WBA title holder Hiroto Kyoguchi. They both signed Matchroom and Kyoguchi (15-0, 10 KOs) made his US debut in March and seemed to be enjoying the experience. He signed with Matchroom to do some big fights outside of Japan, and Soto would qualify. It’s also a potentially formidable fight. Soto just hasn’t had less of a very good world title fight out of the five he’s been involved in, and Kyoguchi has shown some vulnerability against a strong, tough guy from Axel Aragon Vega last time around. You could headline a smaller show with that, but its real value to fans would be as a co-feature slot on another big card, possibly Canelo’s next in September. If it’s not Kyoguchi, the top-rated WBO contenders for Soto are Agustin Mauro Gauto, Jesse Rodriguez, Sho Kimura, Jonathan Gonzalez, and Riku Kano in their last rankings update.
- Souleymane Cissokho likely won’t jump into the top 10 of the mix at 154 after a win over Kieron Conway, which was much clearer than all three judges scored, with one of them sort of giving Conway a 97-92 map. Cissokho, 29, is a former Olympian and certainly not a kid, but there’s a long way to go between Conway and the real top of the division. Maybe Cissokho is never that guy, but it’s obvious Anthony Joshua and Matchroom want to deal with him in order to be successful. I would expect something like that, especially with him getting knocked down in ninth on a good shot from Conway.
- Heavyweight Frank Sanchez would probably have to fight someone better than a long-lost Nagy Aguilera if he is to be taken seriously right now as a heavyweight contender, but in reality it could be more for commentators at television and male promoters of the hype. Eddy Reynoso is careful with how he matches his fighters, and Sanchez (18-0, 13 KOs), 28, is years ahead of him. Either way, he won’t get a title shot in the immediate or even particularly near future. You would like to hope for better, but an opponent like Mariusz Wach, Sergey Kuzmin or Christian Hammer really wouldn’t be a big surprise. The best case might be Hughie Fury, but a guy like Kubrat Pulev – if he intends to fight at 40 – might like his chances against the Cuban.