By: Ste Rowen
Picture the scene, Las Vegas, December 14th; the Mexican national anthem rings out as Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, WBA, WBC, IBF & Ring Magazine champion prepares to walk out and into the ring with WBO champion, Demetrius Andrade in Canelo’s third fight of the year.
It’s a pipe dream of course. Canelo hasn’t fought more than twice in a year since 2011 but 2019 feels like an opportunity, one that he’s not had since he came up against Floyd Mayweather, for the current WBA ‘Super’, WBC & Ring middleweight champion to be remembered as an all-time great.
Canelo is already all but confirmed for Boxing’s Hall of Fame, and that’s no small achievement, but to be remembered as one of the greatest middleweights in boxing history is an impossible task for 99% of professional 160lbers.
Ask someone in the know who the greatest middleweight of all time is and they’ll most likely say Marvin Hagler, Carlos Monzon or perhaps Sugar Ray Robinson. It’s pretty much a given that no modern boxer will be able to eclipse any of those three men, or even other 160lb greats down the years such as James Toney or Bernard Hopkins, but, as in Canelo’s case, they can stand alongside them. But it’s going to take multiple fights against the cream of the crop at this weight, to be recognised as such.
The flame haired boxer has, thus far, taken on all comers from welter to middle in 54 bouts; losing just once, to Floyd, along the way. The Tapatio most recently earned a close decision over Gennady Golovkin and saw 2018 out with an easy stoppage of Rocky Fielding, up at super-middle, but the real glory lies in the glamour division. The plan for Alvarez in 2019, assuming he continues to win, should be Danny Jacobs this Cinco de Mayo weekend, the rubber match vs. Golovkin in September and then, assuming Andrade continues to win, a December matchup with the WBO champion to become the undisputed king of the middleweights; a feat not achieved since Jermaine Taylor decisioned Bernard Hopkins in 2005.
There should be no promotional or programming disputes as all four of the boxers mentioned are signed with DAZN and with Canelo continuing to be the biggest draw in the sport – a crown he’s only really competing against heavyweight champ, Anthony Joshua for – every fight is a big money event for the Mexican.
The incentive for rivals of the unified champion is clearly there, so it’s surely now all down to how ambitious Alvarez wants to be at 160. When money isn’t an issue, for Canelo, it should now be all about his lasting legacy.