Canelo Alvarez was asked what might follow his history-making 11th-round knockout of Caleb Plant on Saturday and he deflected the question, saying only, “I love challenges. Whatever comes my way, I’ll be ready for it.”
Well, there are potential challenges in front of him and he has already expressed interest in tackling a few of them.
The first undisputed super middleweight champion has said more than once that he likes the idea of fighting two-time 168-pound champion David Benavidez (24-0, 21 KOs) or current middleweight titleholder Jermall Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs).
Both men could pose a bigger threat than Plant, who boxed well but was gradually worn down and stopped in the 11th round.
Benavidez is a good, quick handed boxer who might have the punching power to slow Alvarez’s charge and perhaps hurt the Mexican superstar. Plant couldn’t do that. And Charlo, while smaller than Alvarez, is an excellent all-around fighter.
Anthony Dirrell, another two-time 168-pound beltholder, is another viable candidate but probably a longshot even after his one-punch, fourth-round knockout of Marco Hernandez on Saturday.
The guess here is that Alvarez will face Benavidez next May. That’s the biggest challenge at super middleweight and would be fully embraced by fans, who understand how dangerous the strapping Phoenix fighter is.
Then there are the light heavyweights.
Alvarez’s trainer, Eddy Reynoso, has said it’s unfair to expect his protégé to fight naturally bigger men at 175 pounds but that argument doesn’t wash. He already stopped Sergey Kovalev to win a light heavyweight title in 2019.
The thought of Alvarez facing either Artur Beterbiev or Dmitry Bivol, both of whom are 175-pound titleholders, is exciting. They both have the ability and physical strength to test Alvarez like no one lighter than them could, Benavidez being the most obvious possible exception.
Beterbiev, who holds the IBF and WBC titles, is a two-time Olympian from Russia who has stopped all 16 of his opponents. The man is imposing. And WBA beltholder Bivol, another former amateur star from Russia, might be a more complete fighter than Beterbiev.
Alvarez would have his hands full with both of them. Hey, he said he loves challenges.
One more possibility is WBO light heavyweight champ Joe Smith Jr., who doesn’t have the boxing skills to keep pace with Alvarez but might punch harder than any of the fighters mentioned above. He would definitely have a puncher’s chance against Alvarez.
Who knows? Maybe Alvarez will target all the 175-pounders in an attempt to become undisputed light heavyweight champion. No one who has followed his remarkable career would put anything past him.