Who Should Canelo Alvarez Fight After Win vs. Callum Smith?

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2020

Who Should Canelo Alvarez Fight After Win vs. Callum Smith?

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    Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

    Boxing superstar Saul "Canelo" Alvarez dominated Callum Smith on Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Alvarez had no problem with the lanky super middleweight. He never quite knocked the UK star off his feet, but he won virtually every exchange.

    Judges scored the fight 119-109, 119-109 and 117-111 for Alvarez.

    The stunning win netted Alvarez his opponent's WBA and The Ring super middleweight titles as well as the vacant WBC championship.

    The world's top pound-for-pound boxing superstar, Alvarez will now be looking to land an even bigger and better fight, and he could be doing so across multiple weight classes.

    Bleacher Report is game to help take a little of the guesswork out of Team Canelo's decision-making process for finding his next opponent.

    Here's our list of opponents the Mexican superstar should target next.

5. Gennadiy Golovkin

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    Should Canelo cap off a trilogy against GGG?
    Should Canelo cap off a trilogy against GGG?Steven Ryan/Getty Images

    With apologies to Bleacher Report's Lyle Fitzsimmons, who suggested Alvarez was the top option for IBF middleweight titleholder Gennadiy Golovkin to face next after his big win Friday night, the world has seen Canelo vs. GGG twice already.

    While many have debated the scorecards of the first fight, the second seemed more like a definite Alvarez win.

    Since that rematch in Sept. 2018, Alvarez, 30, seems to have improved greatly, while Golovkin, 38, has seemed to be declining.

    Still, both Alvarez and Golovkin are superstars, and the bad blood created by the circumstances of their first two encounters would make it an easy sell to the general public.

    If Alvarez vs. GGG 3 happens next, it's a compelling fight. That's for certain.

    But Alvarez has plenty of other options on the table, and many of them are much more irresistible matchups than a third fight against GGG.

4. Demetrius Andrade or Jermall Charlo

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    Is a move back to middleweight in the cards for Canelo?
    Is a move back to middleweight in the cards for Canelo?Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

    Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix has been pushing for a clash between WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade and WBC titleholder Jermall Charlo for a long time. Both Americans are undefeated champs in boxing's 160-pound middleweight division after having both won titles in the 154-pound weight class.

    But Andrade and Charlo would much more readily accept a fight against Alvarez next than one against each other, and the world would tune in to see Canelo face either of them over any other one they could land.

    Alvarez remains lineal, The Ring and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board middleweight champion. On top of that, Alvarez is the WBC "Franchise" champion at 160. Depending on who you ask, even among the people at the WBC's offices, that might mean Alvarez is the real WBC middleweight champ over Charlo right now.

    And who's the real WBC champ is a great angle for promoting Canelo vs. Charlo.

    Meanwhile, Andrade doesn't have the power of the Premier Boxing Champions machine behind him like Charlo does, but he has benefited from the constant narrative put forth by DAZN that Andrade is among the most world's most avoided fighters.

    The southpaw does fit that bill on some levels, even if it's not exactly 100 percent true, so Alvarez facing him could be seen as yet another example of Canelo taking on the best and biggest challenge without being pressured into it.

    Alvarez could pick either Andrade or Charlo for his next fight, and it would be an important middleweight showdown.

3. Billy Joe Saunders

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    Should Canelo revisit a fight that fell through?
    Should Canelo revisit a fight that fell through?Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

    Alvarez was supposed to be facing Billy Joe Saunders before the pandemic hit, so there has already been some kind of publicity around the fight.

    Saunders is an undefeated southpaw who won a world title at 160 pounds before moving up to 168 to do the same thing.

    The 31-year-old isn't the type of fighter who triggers fear because of his supreme athletic skills. But he's a tough, crafty boxer with a built-in British fanbase that typically presents all sorts of nightmares for opponents.

    On this list, Saunders gets the nod over the middleweight champions Andrade and Charlo because he's a super middleweight titleholder. Alvarez would probably benefit from challenging the rest of the titleholders in his new weight class, so Canelo vs. Saunders makes the cut here.

2. Caleb Plant or David Benavidez

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    Should Canelo stay at super middleweight?
    Should Canelo stay at super middleweight?Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Speaking of other top super middleweights in boxing, IBF champion Caleb Plant and former WBC champ David Benavidez would present interesting puzzles for Alvarez to solve.

    Plant probably gets the nod over Benavidez in Alvarez's mind since he still holds one of the major world titles in the division. Sweet Hands is an apt nickname for the crafty American.

    Moreover, before signing up to face Callum Smith, Alvarez was negotiating a bout with Plant, so this might already be next in the Mexican's mind anyway.

    Meanwhile, Benavidez lost his WBC super middleweight title on the scale before his most recent fight. It was the second time the undefeated 168-pound menace has been stripped by the WBC over something that happened outside the ring, but the 24-year-old is still one of the most aggressive and scariest fighters in the division.

    So Alvarez couldn't go wrong picking either Plant or Benavidez next. That move would affirm his intention to face the biggest and best names at 168, and it would perhaps put his middleweight days behind him for good.

1. Artur Beterbiev or Dmitry Bivol

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    Is Canelo's future at light heavyweight?
    Is Canelo's future at light heavyweight?Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Finally, the biggest and best possible fight for Alvarez to take next would probably be taking another stab at one of the champions in the light heavyweight ranks.

    Alvarez stopped Sergey Kovalev in Round 11 last year to grab the Russian's WBO title. It was an impressive jump up in weight for the former 154-pound titleholder, and it had many fans wondering afterward just how great a fighter Alvarez might already be.

    Canelo could prove without a doubt that he's one of the best fighters in boxing history by taking another run at a world champ in the 175-pound division. Both unified light heavyweight champion (WBC, IBF) Artur Beterbiev and WBA titleholder Dmitry Bivol would present Alvarez stern tests.

    Beterbiev is a rampaging force of aggression, while Bivol has some of the straightest punches and smoothest combinations in the world.

    Either fight would give Alvarez another chance to show why most people consider him the world's best boxer and most daring champion.

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