By: Hans Themistode
Before Canelo Alvarez could sit back on his newly built undisputed throne, the Mexican star was bombarded with offers for his services.
Alvarez sat in his palatial estate and carefully sifted through two multi-fight offers that were saddled with the sort of life-changing money that many could only dream of. On one end of the spectrum sat PBC’s Al Haymon. After doing business with Alvarez just a few months ago, the powerful advisor offered Alvarez a two-fight deal that would see him take on WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo on May 7th, before turning around four months later to take on former two-time super middleweight titlist, David Benavidez.
Not to be outdone, Eddie Hearn grabbed his own seat at the table. He then slid a comprehensive and lucrative deal in the direction of Alvarez. His, however, was a three-fight contract. On May 7th, Hearn dangled a light heavyweight showdown against Dmitry Bivol for his WBA 175-pound strap, which would be followed up by a third, and presumably final, showdown against Gennadiy Golovkin in September. Should all go well, Alvarez could face John Ryder in London at 168 pounds in December or he could opt to move up in weight to take on WBC cruiserweight titlist, Ilunga Makabu.
Of course, fans of the pugilistic sport begged and pleaded with Alvarez to take PBC’s deal. They dreamed of Alvarez taking on Houston’s Charlo in what would most likely be a back and forth battle fought in the center of the ring. Those same very fans drooled profusely as they envisioned Benavidez getting his shot at the Mexican star.
Ultimately, Alvarez choose against Haymon’s offer and shook hands with Hearn instead. In no time, fans fulminated over his decision. Claims of “ducking” both Charlo and Benavidez ensued as fans believe Alvarez took the easier route.
In the end, we’re here to say…fans got this one wrong. Let’s break down Alvarez’s options from PBC.
Charlo, an aggressive, come forward fighter has gained somewhat of a reputation as a violent puncher and strong finisher. False. Since 2018, Charlo has finished just two of his six opponents.
In addition to Charlo failing to score knockouts as of late, a showdown against Alvarez would take place at 168 pounds, a weight class he’s never competed at. To further dampen Charlo’s chances against Alvarez, the 31-year-old middleweight titlist has spent more and more time sequestered on the sidelines. In each of the past two years, Charlo has stepped foot inside the ring just once annually.
How about Benavidez? The 25-year-old has it all offensively. From combination punching to underrated defensive skills, Benavidez has the sort of work rate and offensive firepower to keep Alvarez on his toes and thinking. Still, a lack of big fight experience could be his undoing. Only once in Benavidez’s 25 pro fights has he shared the ring with a former world champion, Anthony Dirrell in 2019. With time, Benavidez will likely become Alvarez’s most dangerous opponent but not now.
In the eyes of many, despite the disadvantages they would carry into the ring against Alvarez, many are incredulous to the chances of a soon-to-be 40-year-old Golovkin, a mostly unknown Bivol, and if things go according to plan, possibly Makabu.
Consider this, while many have dismissed Golovkin as a walk in the park due to his age, the same happened in 2012. A 39-year-old Juan Manuel Marquez, coming off a Manny Pacquiao loss just one year prior, was given essentially no chance heading into their fourth showdown. Of course, Marquez would go on to flatten Pacquiao in the sixth round, putting an end to their four-fight rivalry.
While Golovkin has lost a step or even two, his familiarity with Alvarez through 24 rounds of blood and guts action, shouldn’t be summarily dismissed. And, for what it’s worth, Golovkin believes that unlike many who have found Alvarez to be a bemusing puzzle to unlock, the current IBF middleweight titlist maintains that his overall experience will lead him to victory.
“I know Canelo as a fighter,” said Golovkin during an interview on Walking The Floor. “I have the keys to open him up, how to fight against Canelo.”
As for his upcoming showdown against Bivol and his tentative contest against Makabu, were lukewarm on the latter. If Alvarez does, in fact, take on the cruiserweight titlist, he’ll be at a massive weight disadvantage. However, in terms of skills, Makabu isn’t impressive. The highly inactive and relatively unknown cruiserweight belt holder struggled against fringe contender Thabiso Mchunu on January 29th, earlier this year, settling for a split decision victory.
Ultimately, Bivol presents Alvarez with the most difficult task of them all. Not only is he unblemished through 19 pro fights, but his current light heavyweight title reign saw him pick up well-needed wins against experienced and notable fighters such as Sullivan Barrera, before he became a journeyman, Jean Pascal, a solid and durable former champion, and Joe Smith Jr., the WBO light heavyweight champion at this very moment.
Most will point a dubious and unflattering finger to Bivol’s close call against Craig Richards in 2021. Despite the scorecards, Bivol went on to thoroughly outbox Umar Salamov at the tail end of the year, not a notable fighter but a respectable one.
Unlike the rest of the names that were hurled in Alvarez’s direction, Bivol presents a myriad of problems in the ring. From his box first approach to his speed and power. If we go back even further, Bivol has always had the pedigree to compete at the highest of pugilistic levels, racking up a record of 268-15 as an amateur.
Both Charlo and Benavidez are the more recognizable names, the flashy and sexy picks. And while they also bring a level of hostility and will to win with them to the ring, in facing Bivol, Golovkin, and possibly Makabu – Alvarez took the much more dangerous route, whether fans want to admit it or not.
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