Canelo Alvarez has never been one to shy away from a challenge and it is rare for any opponent to pass up an opportunity to make a career-best payday against the top attraction in boxing. Still, those factors did not add up Canelo and Caleb Plant successfully booking a super middleweight unification fight on Sept. 18.
A bout with Plant was the well-established target even before Canelo shattered Billy Joe Saunders’ face in May. Still, negotiations fell apart in the final stages of the process and Canelo missed out on a Mexican Independence Day weekend fight for a third straight year.
So, what is next for the Mexican superstar? Let’s take a look at the top three options for Canelo’s targeted November return.
Caleb Plant (21-0, 12 KOs), IBF super middleweight champion
A fight with Plant still feels like the obvious route for Canelo. There’s the history of the first-ever four-belt unification at 168 pounds, the competitive nature of the fight on paper and the simple fact that both men seem to truly want the fight to happen. Plant and Premier Boxing Champions weren’t willing to give in to what they felt were unfair terms for the fight in September, sure, but time and money heal all wounds, especially in the fight game.
The addition of a few extra months also gives time for both sides to calmly work through anything that was likely presented as “take it or leave it” in the late push to try to get Canelo a fight on a weekend that is traditionally a big one for Mexican stars. The next round of negotiations has already started, and they started from a place where the two sides knew the hurdles that need to be cleared.
Canelo had a clear plan for what the coming years looked like for his career and Plant was always the next man up. It’s hard to imagine he doesn’t get what he wants.
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Dmitry Bivol (18-0, 11 KOs), WBA light heavyweight champion
The Alvarez team attempted to pivot from Plant to Bivol to save the September date. Bivol holds the WBA light heavyweight title and Canelo has won gold at 175 pounds before when he moved up to knock out Sergey Kovalev in November 2019.
Bivol’s team said they agreed to fight Alvarez for the light heavyweight belt in September at a 172-pound catchweight, but Canelo and his team decided the window to make a fight had gotten too tight and instead opted for a move to November. Still, Bivol’s willingness to not only make the fight, but also make it at a catchweight, makes him the most likely option if the Plant fight falls through for any reason.
Also, in Canelo’s pursuit of historic moments, moving up in weight and beating a young, undefeated light heavyweight carries a bit more meaning than his last trip to the weight to beat a past-his-prime Kovalev.
Artur Beterbiev (16-0, 16 KOs), WBC and IBF light heavyweight champion
The only light heavyweight in the world better than Bivol is Beterbiev, holder of the WBC and IBF belts. Beterbiev’s name hasn’t come up much in the current discussions for Canelo’s next fight, but there’s no doubt that any effort from Canelo to truly rule light heavyweight would have to involve a fight with Beterbiev.
Beterbiev and WBO champion Joe Smith seem set for a unification bout, though it would seem logical for that fight to take a back seat to the big money of a clash with Canelo. Beterbiev has even made it clear that a bout with Canelo is all that could push him off of his plans to chase unifications.
“It would not be difficult for [Canelo’s] representatives to come to an agreement with me,” Beterbiev told Match TV. “I have a desire to win a new title, for me, it is more interesting than money. If [Canelo’s handlers] contact me, I will give them a positive answer. I want to become an undisputed champion or try my hand at a fight with Canelo.”