Since his completely one-sided defeat to all-time great Floyd Mayweather Jr. on September 13 2014, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has ascended to almost legendary status and amassed a resume that spans from the impressive down to the sub-mediocre. You can’t overlook Canelo’s accomplishments to judge his legacy, especially at a time when his accomplishments are beginning to fade compared to those of his contemporaries; his signature win in the rematch over GGG becomes more diminished every time Golovkin fights. Kazakh Thunder, once sharp and menacingly close, now has faded to muffled grumbles seemingly from far away hilltops.
The latest assumption was that Billy Joe Saunders, a slick, crafty, counterpunching southpaw, was the clear and obvious pick to give Canelo serious enough trouble in the ring to convince judges that they should give the Brit a decision in Arlington, Texas. Of course to do that, Billy Joe would’ve needed to answer the 9th round bell and finished the fight. After boxing awkwardly for 8 rounds and scoring well at time, he overcommitted on a jab and ducked to avoid a counter over the top that Canelo never threw. Instead, Billy Joe ducked directly into the path of Alvarez’ perfectly leveraged uppercut from underneath and suffered dearly and immediately. He somehow finished out the round but there appeared to be some extensive damage to the right eye.
Canelo’s fights against Callum Smith, Avni Yildrim, and Rocky Fielding were far from impressive to spectate, but there was never any real expecation that they wouldn’t be. The Danny Jacobs fight was much more exciting to watch, but that was one of 5 fights. Since Canelo somehow negotiated such a lucrative contract with DAZN, he’s being paid so much that you’d think he’d face more of a consistent challenge in his fights.
But it doesn’t look like he’ll actually have to; even though the fans want to see him against Charlo, Spence, Derevyanchenko, and Benevidez, Canelo has transcended the tribulations of the sport in the eyes of bigger interests to become a symbol of Mexican fighting greatness. Even though there are fights that could offer obvious challenges to Alvarez, it seems the only fights we’ll get to see of his until he retires are against foes who’ll be cooperative to the narrative. Canelo is notoriously vulnerable to slick fighters, being schooled by Floyd Mayweather in their September, 2014 match, and winning a close and controversial decision against southpaw Erislandy Lara. Since Lara you don’t see many similar styles make it into the ring with him.
Although there are big fights to be made for Alvarez, we likely won’t get to see Canelo fight Andrade, Spence, Charlo, or Benevidez. As long as DAZN can convince the people that their content is worth the constant monthly expense this problem might contain itself, but it becomes more and more difficult to see how the illusion will fare given the pattern of lackluster matchmaking we’re seeing.
The fact of the matter is that regardless of how padded Canelo’s record will be by the time he retires from this European vacation, his record will have at least one loss, and probably only one, with the competition he’s likely to face for the duration of his career. It really only shows how much more impressive Mayweather’s 20 year professional career was as a boxer. When Floyd fought Canelo, he was already past his prime, just taking on another challenger in a young, oversized opponent with speed, power, and skills disproportionate to his experience. Floyd was already in his 5th weight class in September 2013 at 154 lbs.
It’s hard to say whether Canelo’s prime was at 154, 160, or is now at 168 lbs, but Floyd’s prime was actually well below 147, the division he reached the undeniable international acclaim that he now enjoys. Accounting for weight ‘s relationship with the age of each fighter, a prime Floyd, which would be at or close to 130 lbs., beats Canelo at his absolute smallest/youngest, 147 lbs., but it’d be the closest fight.
In a fantasy style matchup with both fighters rehydrating to the same weight, prime Canelo doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell against prime Mayweather.
It’s still technically possible to see Canelo fight the best active current fighters, which is what DAZN is hoping to convince you to buy in on to the tune of $100 a year, but it’s unlikely any incentive would force him into the ring against any real danger at this point. His reputation among certain fans won’t dip if he continues this fascinating display of risk averse, predatory behavior, avoiding legitimate challenges at 160 lbs and 168 lbs and instead choosing to hunt UK fighters and cherry pick vulnerable opponents.
But until Canelo Alvarez fights Demetrius Andrade, Jermall Charlo, and David Benevidez, any claims to being the best middleweight or super middleweight ring hollow.