Boxing’s top star has competed twice at light heavyweight but appears settled in at 168 pounds, where his last three fights have occurred. At 33 years old, and with his Hall of Fame legacy secured, where does Alvarez go from here?
ESPN’s No. 4 pound-for-pound boxer will return on Cinco de Mayo, but when asked whom he wanted to face, he responded “I don’t f—ing care. … Nobody can compete with this Canelo.”
Well, guess what? We care. With that in mind, here’s a look at the field of possible opponents for Alvarez’s next fight. The Mexican has two fights remaining on his deal with PBC, so we’ll focus on options from that “side of the street.”
Which fighters are in the running for a shot at a career-high payday? And who has the best chance of winning it? Let’s break down the contestants:
Benavidez is by far the most viable option for Alvarez if he can deliver a statement victory against Demetrius Andrade on Nov. 25 in Las Vegas.
Benavidez is one of the most entertaining action fighters in the sport and has been lobbying for a bout with Alvarez for years. Benavidez, 26, is coming off a career-best victory, a decision over Caleb Plant in March.
Benavidez’s swarming, pressure style is a load to contend with, as is his power. He’s shown the ability to break down quality opponents as fights wear on, but he’s never faced someone as talented as Alvarez.
This feels like a megafight if Benavidez can come through with an explosive victory over Andrade and build momentum heading into the new year.
“I’m focused on Andrade,” Benavidez told ESPN on Sunday. “But after this fight, the WBC should mandate the No. 1 contender. After I beat Andrade, we’ll be in a pretty good spot to make the fight [against Alvarez] happen for me.”
Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade
If Andrade can pull off the upset when he meets Benavidez, he could find himself in pole position to be Alvarez’s next challenger.
The former two-division champion has long been one of boxing’s most-avoided fighters for good reason.
An athletic southpaw who’s hard to find in the ring, Andrade is undefeated through 32 pro fights. Now 35 years old and in his third weight class, Andrade will have the opportunity to showcase his ability in a major fight he’s long yearned for.
If “Boo Boo” can resemble the elite boxer we’ve seen when he’s at his best, he’s a tough fighter to beat. And if Andrade defeats Benavidez, there’s already a built-in storyline for a fight with Canelo.
After Alvarez defeated Billy Joe Saunders in May 2021, Andrade crashed the news conference. Canelo responded with a bundle of expletives and a critique of Andrade’s competition.
“Get the f— out of here,” Alvarez told Andrade. “… You’ve fought with nobody.”
Alvarez has proved he has no problem fighting tricky southpaws, defeating Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara. Andrade can get his opportunity. He first must beat Benavidez.
Crawford represents the biggest commercial option for Alvarez, a true superfight, but Alvarez didn’t seem too interested in that bout at the postfight news conference after beating Charlo.
“I always say if the fight makes sense, why not? But [Crawford is] not in the plan,” Alvarez said.
The matchup makes plenty of financial sense for both fighters, but Alvarez has expressed dismay in the past about fighting a much smaller man. Crawford, ESPN’s No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer, has never competed above 147 pounds.
And Alvarez, who calls the shots as the sport’s top star, isn’t going to make any weight concessions.
But never say never. Crawford vs. Alvarez represents the biggest money-making event of all the options, so it can’t be counted out.
Charlo was originally slated to fight Alvarez last month, but before the matchup was set, twin brother Jermell stepped in as “Big Charlo” dealt with a personal matter.
“Same size, same everything. I don’t really care which Charlo brother it is,” Alvarez told ESPN during fight week.
Jermell’s lackluster performance against Alvarez likely killed any revenge angle for Jermall. Jermell’s strategy against Alvarez produced little action and often elicited boos from the Las Vegas crowd.
While his opportunity might be slipping away, Jermall is set to end a two-and-a-half-year layoff when he fights Jose Benavidez Jr. on the Nov. 25 undercard of Benavidez-Andrade.
Jermall, the WBC middleweight champion who is now training with Roy Jones Jr., last competed in June 2021 when he defeated Juan Macias Montiel.
Bivol is with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom, but he remains a contender to square off with Alvarez because of his win over Canelo in May 2022.
That bout, which took place at 175 pounds, wasn’t remotely competitive as Bivol proved far too accurate and slick. Alvarez has insisted he wanted Bivol for his second fight of 2023, but only if it took place at 175 pounds.
Bivol, meanwhile, said he was only interested in a rematch for Alvarez’s undisputed super middleweight championship.
That didn’t happen in September, and it appears unlikely we will see an encore encounter between Alvarez and Bivol in May 2024. Still, the Russian remains the toughest challenger for Alvarez’s four 168-pound belts.
“He looked good in the fight against Charlo,” Bivol told ESPN. “But I did not see anything new from when we last fought.”
The loss clearly still bothers Alvarez, who maintains that he’s a better fighter than Bivol and has pointed to his injured left wrist, which required surgery, as a reason for his performance.
Bivol is one spot behind Canelo at No. 5 on ESPN’s pound-for-pound list.
Adames seems like a long-shot option, but he’s been adamant on social media that he’s in the running.
The Dominican signed with Top Rank in 2018 as a much-ballyhooed welterweight prospect. He struggled with the company, and following a loss to Patrick Teixeira at 154 pounds in 2019, Adames was released.
He’s found new life with PBC at middleweight, rattling off four wins, three of them inside the distance. At 29 years old, Adames feels more than ready for the life-changing opportunity.
“I won’t run like Jermell. I have more merit than a lot of Canelo’s opponents,” Adames wrote on X . ” … I have hurt big champions in sparring because I am a big 160.”