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Artur Beterbiev would be “strong threat” to Canelo Alvarez – says Mauricio Sulaiman

Image: Artur Beterbiev would be "strong threat" to Canelo Alvarez - says Mauricio Sulaiman

By Allan Fox: WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman says IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev would be a “threat” to the legacy of Canelo Alvarez if the Mexican star moves up to 175 to challenge him for his titles in 2022.

Canelo getting knocked out by Beterbiev would be a significant blow to his legacy and a signal that he had taken a step too far.

Although Canelo had already shown that he has the talent to capture world titles in 2019 when he defeated WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev by an 11th round knockout, that fighter was well past his prime at the time the contest took place

Also, the passive way that Kovalev fought Canelo that night looked odd to the fans. Kovalev had been a power puncher his entire career, but against Canelo, he stayed on the outside snd boxed. It appeared to some that Kovalev wasn’t even trying to win.

The one round in which Kovalev suddenly turned up the head on Canelo in the eighth, he had him looking shaky. But rather than continuing to put heat on Canelo in the subsequent rounds, Kovalev went back to fighting passively.

With his perfect record, Beterbiev (16-0, 16 KOs) is one of the candidates in the running for Canelo’s next fight in 2022.

The Mexican superstar Canelo (57-1-2, 39 KOs) is fresh off a tenth round knockout victory over IBF super middleweight champion Caleb ‘Sweethands] Plant last Saturday night.

Canelo accomplished his three-year goal of becoming the first undisputed champion in the history of the 168-lb division with his win over Plant, and now he’s looking to continue to build his legacy.

If Canelo chooses to go up to 175 to become a two-division undisputed champion, it will shake up the boxing world.

There would arguably be more interest from fans in watching Canelo attempt to become the four-belt champion at light heavyweight than what he did at super middleweight because the division is stacked with hard punchers.

For Canelo to become the undisputed champion at 175, he would need to best these three champions:

  • Artur Beterbiev – IBF & WBC
  • Dimitry Bivol – WBA
  • Joe Smith Jr. – WBO

Sulaiman: Beterbiev is a threat to Canelo’s legacy

“Yes. Beterbiev makes a mandatory defense in December and will be open to do anything he wants to do,” said WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman to Sky Sports. “It would be a tremendous match.

Image: Artur Beterbiev would be "strong threat" to Canelo Alvarez - says Mauricio Sulaiman

“Beterbiev is undefeated; he is a heavy, heavy puncher. He would be a very strong threat to Canelo’s legacy,” said Sulaiman.

“Those three are the top of the line,” said Sulaiman to iFL TV last Saturday night when asked about his thoughts on Canelo possibly fighting Jermall Charlo, David Benavidez, Artur Beterbiev, or Dimitry Bivol next.

“When I’ve spoken to him [Canelo], he’s always said he wants the biggest challenge out there, and he has the world in his hands right now.

No, not crazy. I love the idea. And I love challenges,” said Canelo last week when asked if it was a crazy idea for him to move up to 175 to fight Beterbiev for his IBF & WBC titles.

“I like [to battle larger fighters] because I know what to do in there, so it’s easy for me,” said Canelo.

Beterbiev will take Canelo fight

“I’m sure Beterbiev would take it. He’ll take any fight there is,” said his stablemate Arthur Biyarslanov to Boxing King Media.

“This would probably be Canelo’s biggest challenge because Beterbiev is the only world champion with a 100% knockout ratio, and he holds two belts.

“A lot of people don’t want to fight him,” said Biyarslanov about Beterbiev. “That’s why he’s underrated and not really known because people kind of dodge him. But you’ve got to fight champions if you want the belts.

“If he [Canelo] wants the belts at 175, he’ll take the fight [with Beterbiev]. But for Artur Beterbiev, I don’t think age matters for him because we train together. I see the way he trains, and he trains like he’s 25-years-old.

“And he has everything. He has power, strength, conditioning, and I think for as long as he boxes, I don’t see anyone beating him at 175 yet,” said Biyarslanov about Beterbiev.

There’s no doubt that Beterbiev would accept the fight with Canelo if it’s offered to him. Recently, Beterbiev said that he was waiting for the phone to ring from Canelo, saying he wanted to fight him, but thus far, he’s not heard anything.

Beterbiev knows that he could make massive money fighting Canelo, and it would be a fight that could lead to a lucrative rematch.

If Beterbiev beats Canelo twice, it will turn him into a massive star, opening doors for other essential fights.

With that said, Beterbiev might scare off other 168-pounders from wanting to move up to 175 to take him on if he defeats Canelo.

Canelo could get stopped by a body attack

“He’s a guy that will take any fight,” said Biyarslanov about Beterbiev. “Like I said, he’s open for anything. If Canelo moves up, he wants the fight; the fight will happen.

“So, Artur is open to any fights, and this would be a great opportunity for Canelo if he wants to unify at 175. He could take two belts if he wants to take the fight [with Beterbiev]. I think it would be very interesting, and I’m pretty sure a lot of people would want to see that fight.

“You saw when Canelo fought [Gennadiy] Golovkin,” said Biyarslanov when asked how he thinks a fight between Canelo and Beterbiev would play out. “Golovkin is a power puncher too, and Canelo had a problem with that.

“I’m not saying all of his [Canelo] opponents weren’t power punchers, but Artur [Beterbiev] is on a different level.

“This guy hits really hard, and I think if Artur works his body in the early rounds, I think Artur could stop him,” said Biyarslanov about Beterbiev potentially knocking out Canelo.

Earlier in Canelo’s career, James Kirkland and Jose Miguel Cotto had him hurt. If you look at Canelo’s fights with Austin Trout and Floyd Mayweather Jr, both of those fighters had him hurt as well with body shots.

The way to beat Canelo is to focus on his body because he’s easier to hit with shots downstairs than when targeting his elusive head. Canelo uses so much head and upper body movement that it forces his opponents to lighten up on their punches to make contact with him.

When they take power off of their punches, Canelo can handle their shots without getting hurt.

That’s essentially the reason why Canelo survived both of his fights with Gennadiy Golovkin because the Kazakh fighter had to take the steam off his shots to improve his accuracy.

Not surprisingly, after his first fight with GGG, Canelo mentioned that he didn’t hit as hard as he thought he would.

The reason for that is because Golokin decreased the power on his punches to enable him to land, and he threw a lot of jabs in that fight. Golovkin appeared to be following Floyd Mayweather Jr’s blueprint to beat Canelo by fighting at a distance and mainly throwing jabs.

It worked for Floyd, but it didn’t for Golovkin when it came to the scoring by the Nevada judges. You can argue that Golovkin did almost as well against Canelo as Mayweather, but the scoring by the judges in the Las Vegas-based fight didn’t reflect that.

Beterbiev hurting sparring partners

“But if Canelo is on his best game and moving and not always coming but boxing, maybe it’ll go to decision, and maybe he can win rounds. But overall, to be honest, it’s just the way I see Artur train.

“The way he [Beterbiev] trains, he’s an animal. He doesn’t just do 10, 20 rounds. This guy will go 40 rounds, and he can still go another 40 rounds.

“I have seen him spar. He had three different sparring partners that he would bring. They would go one round after another because they couldn’t go two rounds or three rounds straight with him [Beterbiev]. They’d have to take one round break. All these guys, he would hurt them.

“Some guys wouldn’t want to come back in for another round [with Beterbiev], and that’s why he won’t be able to do a full 12 rounds with these guys. Then there would have to be another sparring partner.

“A lot of people don’t see this, and these are 16-ounce gloves. These are big gloves we’re talking about, and if you’re hurting top guys in sparring and if you’re training like you’re not your age like you’re 25, I just don’t see anybody beating him [Beterbiev] when I see all this stuff.

“Of course, everybody has a bad day and a good day in boxing. I know his [Beterbiev] last performance wasn’t great [against Adam Deines], and some people like to think, ‘Oh, they see some holes and stuff.’ This is normal.

“When you see first-hand the training camps that he [Beterbiev] does, you’ll be amazed,” said Biyarslanov.

It sounds scary what Beterbiev is like in training camp, and the impressive about it, he’s doing this with 16-ounce gloves. If Canelo is willing to fight Beterbiev, he may have to bulk up as he did in his first fight with Gennadiy Golovkin in 2017.

Canelo looked shredded like a bodybuilder for BOTH of his fights with Golovkin, particularly his first. But in the first fight with Golovkin, Canelo was on his bike, moving around the ring to avoid his pressure.

That’s the fight that most boxing fans believe Golovkin did more than enough to win, but surprisingly, the judges scored it a 12 round draw.

If Beterbiev gets the fight with Canelo in early 2022, he’ll need to be prepared to chase him around the ring because he’ll likely be on the run.

Moreover, attacking Canelo’s body would be the way to go about beating him because he’s hard to hit with headshots, and he can punishment without getting hurt.

Canelo was hurt in his second fight with Golovkin when he got nailed by a big uppercut in the championship rounds, but he made it through without getting stopped.

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