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Is Canelo In Decline – Or The Victim Of High Expectations?

By: Sean Crose

Canelo Alvarez had himself some kind of run. Caleb Plant. Billy Joe Saunders. Callum Smith. Sergey Kovalev. Daniel Jacobs. Gennady Golovkin. The man faced a murderer’s row of opposition from 2018 to 2022 and defeated every opponent before him. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind – save for those who just didn’t like the guy for whatever reason – that Canelo was a great, perhaps an all time great, professional boxer. He was a powerhouse in the ring who had a collection of world titles from different divisions to back his stellar reputation up with. And he was on quite a hot streak.

Then came last year’s bout against Dmitry Bivol. Canelo lost that one to a naturally bigger man with one hell of a skill set. He was moving up in weight, gunning for Bivol’s WBA light heavyweight title strap, and came up short. Call it a bridge too far. It happens when one dares to be great. The whole thing could well have been shrugged off, but Canelo’s next fight – a second rematch with arch foil Golovkin last fall – raised some eyebrows. It was clear that night that Golovkin was no longer the fighter he once was, yet Canelo looked as if he too perhaps was no longer the fighter he once was. Canelo won by decision, sure, but people had questions.

Those questions weren’t answered this past Saturday when Canelo defended his undisputed super middleweight crown against the gritty John Ryder. Ryder was clearly outskilled by Canelo. Plus, he wasn’t nearly as strong as the defending champion was. Still, although he dropped his man with a piston of a straight right, Canelo couldn’t finish the game Londoner off. This, of course, has led people to understandably ask if Canelo, while still great, is now past his prime. He lost to Bivol, after all, and seemed less than stellar against Golovkin during their third throwdown. The truth, however, is that no one knows.

It’s worth noting that Bivol was a light heavy, not a blown up super middleweight. What’s more, Golovkin had always given Canelo a hard time. Just because Golovkin had clearly shown signs of slippage during their his third fight with Canelo, the same couldn’t confidently be said of Canelo himself. Lastly, Ryder was tough. Tough as in TOUGH. It’s worth asking if anyone short of a light heavyweight could have finished him within the distance last Saturday night.

Still, there’s no doubt Canelo hasn’t looked as dominant as fans had gotten used to him looking. Perhaps he truly is slipping. Or perhaps he’s in a rut. Or perhaps the guy is just so good that he’s now the victim of outrageous expectations. Time, of course, will end up telling the tale here. Let’s not forget that hot streak, though. That was one well worth remembering.

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