Earlier this week, Salvador Rodriguez of ESPN, tweeted out that the 2024 for Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez would consist of fights against Jermall Charlo, and then Terence Crawford (in that order). This brought about a myriad of reactions on Elon's X.
Now, I'm not here to question the veracity of 'Chava's reporting. He's a solid journalist, who seems to be plugged in well with that camp. I have no reason to question what he stated, and there's certainly no need to kill the messenger.
But it has to be asked: after a long and illustrious career that will see Canelo in Canastota, is Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) now taking the path of least resistance as he heads toward the twilight of his career at age 33? Is this now all just about risk-vs-reward mitigation?
Just my opinion (which doesn't mean all that much) is that I prefer to see Alvarez take on David Benavidez and Jaime Munguia in this new year.
But here's the blunt truth, what you or I want is of very little significance when it comes to such matters. Guys like Canelo, for better or worse, can control their own fate as it relates to who they face. Some would argue that he has earned such a status, but that's neither here nor there.
Canelo is the straw that stirs the drink. Which is why Premier Boxing Champions offered him a lucrative three-fight pact that began with his bout back in September. The reality is that PBC, which is now partnered up with Amazon Prime to do a series of pay-per-view events, needs big name boxers to headline marquee events.
They need him, more than perhaps Canelo needs any one particular fight moving forward.
Let's get this out of the way, the bout with Crawford does intrigue me. Yes, even if he would be moving up three full weight classes. 'Bud' is considered no worse than the second best fighter in the world pound-for-pound, and is a two-time undisputed champion, who is coming off a career defining victory as he thrashed Errol Spence in July.
Make no doubt about it, an Alvarez-Crawford bout would do big business, because it would pit the games biggest star versus the sports pound-for-pound leader. And yes, there is a cultural battle as it would pit a Mexican against a black American. This may be an uncomfortable subject to some of you out there, but there is a reality to this business.
So yeah, Alvarez-Crawford is fine by me. Where you lose me is the match-up with Charlo, who sat idle for more than two years while holding the WBC middleweight title (with the enabling of Mauricio Sulaiman), and just recently came back in late November as he defeated Jose Benavidez over 10 rounds in what wasn't the most overwhelming performance.
Back in September, Alvarez handled Jermell Charlo, who barely put up an effort in losing a one-sided 12-round decision. Now, it looks like he'll be facing his sibling. Oh, brother. Sorry, that's a hard pass for me. This is another inactive fighter who would be moving up in weight -- something we just saw in his last bout.
In short, there is a legitimate curiosity in Crawford facing Alvarez. However there is no credibility in Alvarez facing Charlo at this juncture.
On the flipside, you have Benavidez who had a strong '23 campaign as he defeated Caleb Plant and Demetrius Andrade. By virtue of being the WBC interim champion at 168, he is basically Canelo's mandatory -- and one who is very deserving of that distinction. This 27 year old is a buzzsaw who is in his physical prime and because of his punishing all-action style was dubbed 'the Mexican Monstha' by Mike Tyson.
Then you have Munguia, another undefeated boxer who just recently dominated the respected John Ryder over nine. Like Benavidez, he doesn't put his punches on lay-a-way, and one thing his fights never lack is action. Under the guidance of Freddie Roach, he seems to be evolving as a fighter.
Benavidez is currently ranked number one by Ring Magazine at super middleweight (where Canelo is their champion). Munguia is rated ninth, but is bound to make a significant leap after the way he handled the fifth ranked Ryder. These are two legitimate super middleweights who are well known to the sizable Latin fan base.
So let me be Monty Hall for a minute: would you rather take curtain A that has Alvarez facing Charlo and then Crawford, or the box that has Munguia and Benavidez?
As a boxing fan, I know which deal I'm taking.
This week on 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez and yours truly, we look back at the strong effort from the aforementioned Munguia, and Bob Arum joined us via Zoom to update us on all things Top Rank:
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