Canelo Alvarez’s journey to undisputed: Does anyone care?

By Boxing News - 02/02/2021 - Comments

By Sean Jones: Canelo Alvarez’s decision to become the undisputed super middleweight champion in a division is weak as water will result in the entire 2021 year devoted to him beating substandard champions and an inactive mandatory contender coming off a loss.

Fans don’t care about Canelo unifying the 168-lb division. Canelo’s decision to become the undisputed champion is nothing but a foxhole for Alvarez to hide out from the talented opposition that could push him, give him trouble, and potentially beat him.

Alvarez’s goal of unifying that 168-pound division is gone over the head of the average fan, who have no idea who these belt-holders are in the division.

Canelo not facing the best

Billy Joe Saunders, Callum Smith, and Caleb Plant, those are no-name fighters with meager talent.

We just saw how poor IBF champion Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) last weekend in watching him fail to put away an old Caleb Traux.

Image: Canelo Alvarez's journey to undisputed: Does anyone care?

Some would say, Canelo choosing to make it a goal for him to become the four-belt champion at 168 as justification for him make easy money fighting lackluster opposition on DAZN.

Canelo’s next fight against Avni Yildirim on February 27th is just one example of him making a lot of dough on DAZN without needing to risk his hide against the likes of Jermall Charlo, Dimitry Bivol, Gennadiy Golovkin, David Benavidez, Demetrius Andrade, and Artur Beterbiev.

Yeah, I know Callum Smith, Caleb Plant, and Billy Joe Saunders were/are technically champions at super middleweight, but they’re not anywhere close to being elite.

They’ve beaten great opposition, none of them. Before moving up to 168, Saunders was the weakest link among the champions at 160 from 2015 to 2019.

Anyone that saw Callum Smith fight John Ryder in 2019 knows that he was just a paper champion with his WBA 168lb strap. Smith wasn’t the #1 fighter at 168, as Canelo and his trainer Eddy Reynoso repeatedly said.

Alvarez not giving the fans what they want

It’s disappointing that Canelo could be so obtuse about what the boxing public wants from him in terms of opposition. They don’t care about Canelo’s superficial goal of uniting the 168-lb division against a trio of weak champions.

Is this a case of Canelo being an opportunist to take advantage of the subpar champions at 168 or does he really believe that unifying the division will interest fans?

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If Canelo is naive enough to believe that him becoming the undisputed champion is going to hold interest from the average fan, he’s kidding themselves. The boxing public isn’t going to want to subscribe to DAZN in high numbers to watch Canelo dominate this mediocre crew: Yildirim, Saunders, and Plant.

Canelo can more traction from the world fan base, and help bring in subscribers to DAZN if he were to fight these guys only during 2021:

  • Jermall Charlo
  • Gennadiy Golovkin
  • Dimitry Bivol
  • Artur Beterbiev
  • Joe Smith Jr
  • Demetrius Andrade
  • David Benavidez

Canelo’s fights against Saunders and Plant, both crafty, weak-punching, spoiler-type fighters are going to end in a boring 12 round decision.

There’s no way Canelo with his stamina problems is going to be able to knockout Saunders and Plant. Those guys are not easy to hit, and they can take a good shot.

For the fans that haven’t been paying attention, Canelo’s punch output has dipped since he moved up to 168. He doesn’t throw a lot of shots now, and he’s mostly a one punch at a time Adrien Broner-type of fighter now.

Offensive-minded fighters needed for Canelo

Canelo’s win over Callum Smith was incredibly boring watching him plod his way to a 12 round decision last December. It’s not going to be any different when Canelo gets in there with the runner’s Saunders and Plant.

Image: Canelo Alvarez's journey to undisputed: Does anyone care?

Those guys are going to make it hard for Canelo to hit them, and he’ll end up winning an ugly decision. Those fights are going to be equivalent to junk television, something that’s watched for mindless entertainment and then instantly forgotten.

For Canelo to be exciting to watch, he needs to fight offensive-minded fighters like Golovkin, Charlo, Joe Smith Jr, Beterbiev, Benavidez, and Bivol. These guys arguably the murderers’ row at 168 and 175.

In other words, fighters that are going to come to him and try and knock his block off with every punch.

Plant and Saunders are not going to make it exciting because they’re mostly just jab and run. It’s awful to watch them fight. Canelo is making sure that he doesn’t have to worry about getting knocked out like he would if he fought the above-mentioned murderers’ row.

Apart from GGG, Benavidez, and Charlo, there’s not much at 168 for Canelo to have exciting fights. That’s why he needs to move up to 175 to face the kind of guys that will bring out the best in him.

This writer isn’t trying to get Canelo beaten by suggesting that he face the elite-level fighters instead of what he’s planning on doing.

Fans don’t care about Canelo’s trivial unification

For Canelo and the boxing public’s sake, he needs to forget about his insignificant goal of unifying the super middleweight division and instead put his energy elsewhere towards actually fighting the best. Saunders and Plant are paper champions and not the real thing.

It would only matter in the eyes of the boxing world if Canelo were to unify a division that was loaded at the top with talented champions. Who could argue with Canelo trying to become the undisputed champion if these guys were the belt-holders:

  • Artur Beterbiev
  • Dimitry Bivol
  • David Benavidez
  • Joe Smith Jr
  • Jermall Charlo

Canelo will have all he could handle any of those guys, but at least we’ll be able to see him fighting the best for a change. It’s been three years since Canelo fought his last great opponent in GGG, and that there are still fans shaking their heads about what the Nevada judges were thinking when they gave Alvarez the decision.

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The fight was too close for Canelo to move on, and yet’s what he did, and he’s making excuses ever since for why he doesn’t need to face GGG again.

The fans would be more sympathetic to Canelo if he were fighting talented guys like Benavidez, Charlo, Beterbiev, and Bivol, but he’s not doing that. Canelo is facing the weakest of the weak in Callum Smith, Saunders, Plant, and Yildirim.

How about Canelo fighting Beterbiev or Benavidez?

Is it too much to ask of Canelo to want him to fight Beterbiev, GGG, Benavidez, or Charlo? I don’t think it is. If Canelo is the so-called ‘Face of Boxing’ and the #1 pound-for-pound guy, shouldn’t he be fighting those fighters rather than the guys that he’s going to be facing in 2021?

Canelo is getting a boatload of money for each fight on DAZN, and I think he should start earning it by fighting the opposition that fans want to see and that will bring in the subscribers. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Canelo is tone-deaf to what the fans want to see, and it’s not going to work for him to shove the inferior fights against Yildirim, Saunders, and Plant don our collective throats this year.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that Canelo needs to give the fans what they want by taking on GGG, Beterbiev, and Benevidez in 2021.

Boxing is about entertainment, and Canelo is badly missing the mark by his decision to devote all of 2021 to unifying the 168lb division. Canelo has been off the mark since his controversial win over Golovkin in 2018.

Ever since then, Canelo has taken the easy path fighting Rocky Fielding, Daniel Jacobs, Sergey Kovalev, and Callum Smith. If DAZN can’t see what Canelo is doing, it’s disappointing. Their boxing guys should point out to them that Canelo is NOT fighting the best in his fights on DAZN.

He’s taking a bunch of safe fights and making good money. The streaming giant should insist on Canelo fighting the likes of Benavidez, Beterbiev, Golovkin, Smith Jr, Charlo, and Bivol.

What DAZN needs on their network are fighters that are willing to face the best each time out rather than shooting for the lowest common denominator.