Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez eyes clash with Jermall Charlo that nobody asked for

 | February 13 | 

4 mins read

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Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is set to face Jermall Charlo in his next bout, according to reports. Alvarez is coming off a dominant unanimous-decision win over Jermell Charlo, Jermall’s twin brother. Perhaps they printed more 'Canelo vs Charlo' posters than they needed and are looking to shift the excess.

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That is a flippant appraisal of this fight, but the reasons it is taking place aren’t much better. The Mexican superstar is set to sidestep bigger and better challenges to face a man who has never competed at super middleweight before. This is the third time in his last four fights that Alvarez has defended his undisputed title against someone who has never fought at 168 pounds. 

‘Canelo’ hasn’t fought a top contender or fellow champion at super middleweight since his November 2021 win over IBF champion Caleb Plant. Since then, Alvarez has lost to WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol, beaten then-middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin up at 168 pounds, outpointed John Ryder and eased past reigning super welterweight king Jermell Charlo, who stepped up two divisions to face him. 

That last victory was particularly egregious. What was ‘Canelo’ ever going to prove fighting a man packing on 14 pounds more than he’s used to carrying? That fight is best forgotten, which makes it even stranger that this proposed bout with brother Jermall Charlo seems designed to evoke it.

Like the majority of Alvarez’s recent opponents, Charlo is receiving an undisputed title shot despite having never once fought at super middleweight. Perhaps such deviations from Alvarez would be acceptable if there were no viable fights at the weight. But there are two superb challengers for his crown waiting in the wings. Each have proven worthy of a shot and, given ‘Canelo’ is a fixture of the Cinco de Mayo boxing festivities, it seems particularly strange he is fighting neither when both prospective opponents are fellow Mexicans.

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David Benavidez and Jaime Munguia are each unbeaten former world champions. Both have campaigned at super middleweight previously. Benavidez is a career 168-pounder while Munguia has landed there after fighting through the super welterweight and middleweight classes. The commercial element of each potential all-Mexican clash is huge, with either fight enthralling one of the most passionate boxing fanbases on the planet.

One must question ‘Canelo’ turning his back on two fights that would enhance his legacy, bank balance and standing in the sport. Until recently, Alvarez never shied away from a challenge. Here is a man who fought Floyd Mayweather at the tender age of 23. A fighter who shared a trilogy with one of the most feared men in boxing history in Golovkin. Who systematically took out every super middleweight world champion to become the division’s first-ever undisputed ruler. 

But since coming up short against Bivol, Alvarez has ceased to be a man who seeks out the toughest challenges. He has become a seeker of the path of least resistance. The Bivol loss was hurtful, both physically and mentally. Alvarez’s pound-for-pound reign ended in decisive fashion. There is a reason we never saw a rematch.

But does ‘Canelo’ need to be so reluctant? He might not have had it in him to win another light heavyweight world title, but that was never his true weight anyway. Saul’s only previous visit was a 2019 knockout of Sergey Kovalev, who was coming to the end of his career. Bivol was a much-bigger man and a fighter in his prime. There is no shame in his attempt. But the negative effect it has had on his super middleweight supremacy is galling.

Boxing fans want to see the best fighters in the best fights. But for over two years now, ‘Canelo’ has only provided one half of that equation. At the age of 33, he seems content to put money in the bank without risking his neck. This conduct is not befitting for an undisputed champion. With the compliant sanctioning bodies effectively protecting him as champion, given his status as the most lucrative fighter in the sport, the status quo is here to stay. A division in stasis because the champion is allowed to fight whoever he likes with no comeuppance or consequence. Welcome to boxing.

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