Canelo’s next four possible opponents
“I went to his locker room before the fight and said ‘good luck’. Then he just said who’s next” – These are the words of gallant promoter Eddie Hearn, when he saw Saul Canelo Alvarez moments before the latter delivered a knockout performance against Billy Joe Saunders in Arlington, Texas on May 8.
The Mexican’s words to Hearn that night encapsulated his form, his state of mind and his insatiable quest to eliminate any possible threat to seal his legacy in the pugilistic sport.
Canelo’s punching power is evident in the end of his fight against Saunders. And apart from that, he gave another set of evidence that he is, indeed, the king of the super middleweight division.
The well-balanced performance against the then undefeated Briton was also a message that anyone who wants to beat the Mexican has a lot of work to do. The fractured facial bone suffered by Saunders, while unfortunate, is enough signal to warn potential opponents that the 30-year-old Mexican is serious and will stop at nothing to establish his greatness in the sport.
Canelo’s punch back was to love and he flew through stinging uppercuts when needed. Of course, that got him the results – further neutralizing Saunders.
His technique proved effective throughout the period and still has the 2013 Floyd Mayweather Jnr blunder hanging from his otherwise clean record. His exploits in recent years are sufficient proof that the Mexican has learned the lessons of this defeat.
And in the eighth which became the last lap of an initially planned 12, Canelo waved to cheering more cheers from over 70,000 fans as he stalked Saunders around the ring. So he got the job done and brought fans to Arlington Stadium in Texas with him in deafening cheers. Who’s next ?.
Is Caleb Plant most likely?
All arrows are now pointing to undefeated Caleb ‘Sweetlands’ Plant who holds the IBF belt. The 28-year-old factory has been the champion since January 2019, when he knocked out interim champion Jose Uzcategui of Venezuela.
Plant’s seven-year career saw his well-calculated upward trajectory take his record to (21-0, 12kos).
After his debut in 2014, Plant tested his skills for almost two years with similar opponents before moving on to the relatively more experienced Zoltan Sera. He also fought Thomas Awinbono, a former West African welterweight champion from Ghana who fought with the legendary Ike ‘Bazooka’ Quartey.
Plant also defeated Mexicans Rogelio Merdina, who previously held the WBC super middleweight silver belt.
Obviously, his careful preparation for the big day was good and was put to good use on the big day, stopping unbeaten contender Mike Lee in the third round to win the IBF belt.
As it stands, the number two and three positions of the IBF contenders are vacant, which could prompt an earlier meeting between him and Canelo and Plant.
Of course, the boxing world is now focused on the heavyweight unification between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, which is now confirmed by promoter Eddie Hearn for August 7 or 14 in Saudi Arabia.
Once that is cleared from the calendar, all of the attention will be on the Mexican King.
Canelo will have the luxury of choosing his next opponent between number one and 15th as stipulated in the rules of his voluntary defense.
David Benavidez, who first annexed the WBC title in 2017, is the WBC’s number one contender and the WBA’s second. Coincidentally, the American holds a record of 24 wins at 24. He could be ready for this big meeting depending on the progress of the negotiations.
David Lemieux, who is another option, is number two on the WBC newspaper and third on both the WBA and WBO. The Canadian has experience as a force majeure with 42 wins and four losses. In 2015, the 32-year-old orthodox boxer lost an opportunity to become the unified champion after losing to Gennady Golovkin, who then held all four major titles.
Aidos Yerbossynuly of Kazakhstan could also be considered as he is first on WBA, tenth on WBC and fourth on IBF and WBO. At 29, with his KO rate of 66.7% and a clear record of 15 wins, Yerbossynuly is more than a strong opponent.
In December 2020, he recorded a third round TKO victory over 2008 Ghana Olympian Issah Samir to retain his status. With the WBC Asian, WBA International and WBO World Super Middleweight titles, he’s sure to have good newspaper spots to prepare him for such great days.
So far 56 wins and one loss with 38 KOs on his victories. He will recover, enjoy family time, and likely come back after the summer.