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Will Canelo return to 175 to face Artur Beterbiev?

Artur Beterbiev Canelo Alvarez

By Dan Ambrose: The way that Canelo Alvarez fled the light heavyweight division after beating WBO champion Sergey Kovalev last November, it gave the impression to the masses that he was fleeing from IBF/WBC 175-lb champion Artur Beterbiev.


The two-time Russian Olympian Beterbiev is clearly the #1 fighter at light heavyweight, and it would be a brave move on Canelo’s part if he elected to return to the weight class and do what he should have done before.

When you look at the moves that Canelo has made recently with some of his fights, it looks like he’s dodging tough fights in favor of softer ones. Certainly, that would seem to be the case with Canelo choosing to face Kovalev rather than Beterbiev last November.

Had Canelo taken on Beterbiev, the interest that he would have gotten from the boxing world would have been huge. Beterbiev is on the opposite side of the spectrum than Kovalev. The huge punching Beterbiev is still in his prime, and fighting at a high level. In contrast, Kovalev was coming off of a grueling win over Anthony Yarde when Canelo fought him.

The questions to ask Canelo are as follows:

  • Why didn’t he fight Beterbiev of past his prime Kovalev? Beterbiev had two titles and Kovalev just one. Additionally, Beterbiev has the prestigious WBC 175 title. Why didn’t Canelo go after that belt rather than the WBO title?
  • Who’s decision was for Alvarez to vacate his WBO 175-lb title and move down to 168?
  • Why did Canelo choose Billy Joe Saunders instead of Beterbiev
  • What does Canelo gain in fighting Saunders?
  • Will boxing fans be more impressed with Canelo facing Saunders than Beterbiev?
  • Was Beterbiev considered too high risk for Canelo?

Canelo (53-1-2, 36 KOs) had a real chance to win over a lot of new boxing fans if he’d stayed at light heavyweight and faced the unbeaten Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) in a unification fight. It’s not too late for Canelo to return to the 175 to complete the step that he should have taken in facing Beterbiev.

The way Canelo took off from the division after beating the clearly faded 36-year-old Kovalev, it gave fans a strong belief that he wanted no part of Beterbiev. It looks really bad that Canelo is choosing to fight WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders next as his opponent rather than stay at 175 and show courage by taking on Beterbiev.


Canelo’s trainer Eddy Reynoso made it clear that he felt that Kovalev was the best fighter at 175 last November when the Mexican superstar opted to fight him rather than two-belt champion Beterbiev.

Will Canelo dare come back to fight Beterbiev?

Many boxing fans would like to think that Canelo will return to the 175 to take the fight that he should have by facing Beterbiev, but people have doubts about whether he’ll do that. Canelo is expected to fight these three guys in this order:

  • Billy Joe Saunders
  • Gennadiy Golovkin
  • Ryota Murata

After those three, it’s anyone’s guess who Canelo will be fighting. Murata and Saunders are both viewed by a lot of fans as the weakest link among the champions in their respective divisions. In other words, Canelo is opting to take the softest of the champions, which is arguably what he did when he beat WBA ‘regular’ super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding in 2018 and WBO 175-lb champion Kovalev in 2019.

Once Saunders, GGG, and Murata are out of the way, Canelo won’t have anyone else to fight at 160 and 168. Canelo isn’t expected to fight any of these guys due to the risk involved:

  • Jermall Charlo
  • Demetrius Andrade
  • David Benavidez
  • Caleb Plant
  • Sergiy Derevyanchenko

 


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