The new road to undisputed for Canelo as he takes on Dmitry Bivol

Canelo Alvarez begins a new road to undisputed on Saturday against Dmitry Bivol… but also standing in his way of light-heavyweight domination is a Gennady Golovkin trilogy bout, a London debut and a widely-feared, unbeaten knockout artist

  • Canelo Alvarez begins a new journey to undisputed on Saturday night in Vegas 
  • Boxing’s No 1 became undisputed super-middleweight champion last year
  • He now steps up to light-heavyweight to take on WBA champion Dimity Bivol
  • Later in the year Canelo could take on Gennady Golovkin in an epic trilogy bout
  • He will also have to beat one of Artur Beterbiev or Joe Smith Jr likely next year
  • Sign up here to watch the fight exclusively on DAZN

Canelo Alvarez in a little over 12 months blasted his way through the 168lb division as he etched his name further into the history books by becoming the first-ever undisputed super-middleweight champion last year. 

And on Saturday night, the sport’s undoubted pound-for-pound No 1 embarks on a new road to undisputed, as he jumps up to light-heavyweight for the second time in his career to take on WBA (Super) champion Dmitry Bivol. 

The Mexican star took out the super-middleweight champions one-by-one in ruthless fashion, starting with a devastatingly one-sided points win over Britain’s Callum Smith in December 2020, before claiming emphatic wins over Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant. 

Canelo Alvarez (left) and Dmitry Bivol (right) go head-to-head on Saturday night in Vegas

The 31-year-old was presented with various options across a number of divisions, ranging from super-middleweight to cruiserweight, following his latest success story, but it’s those at 175lb he has now set his sights on. 

‘I like the idea to be undisputed at 175,’ he told TMZ Sports last month, explaining his latest venture. ‘That’s what I like, but you never know.’  

The journey to another iconic feat is this time less straightforward, however, with mega-fights still awaiting him at super-middleweight, while those at 175lbs represent perhaps his toughest tests yet. 

However, there is a clear route for Canelo to plan out, with potentially just four fights – taking only around a year – for the all-time great to navigate. Sportsmail assesses that route below.  

Canelo starts a new road to undisputed after blasting through the super-middleweight division

First up, of course, is Canelo’s impending bout against Bivol this weekend at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. 

Canelo had been offered a £100million package by PBC, with Al Haymon looking to set up a super-middleweight bout against Jermall Charlo in May, before another stern test at 168lbs in September against David Benavidez. 

Instead, Canelo opted to sign a two-fight deal with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom, with an intriguing match-up against the seriously tricky Russian agreed. 

Though with just 19 fights on his flawless professional record, Bivol – a light-heavyweight coming into his prime, unlike Sergey Kovalev when Canelo fought him in 2019 – is expected to pose the Mexican a number of problems.  

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With a significant height and reach advantage, Bivol – who has ended just 11 of his 19 bouts within the distance – will look to use his exquisite jab and footwork to frustrate a Canelo who has previously shown some vulnerabilities against those who can make him miss. 

Bivol puts his WBA (Super) light-heavyweight belt on the line against the pound-for-pound No 1

That’s not to say Bivol doesn’t carry power; you only need to look his one-round demolition job against Trent Broadhurst in 2017 to see the knockout capabilities in his arsenal, albeit against lesser opposition.

But against a seriously heavy-handed Canelo, who typically breaks his opposition down bit-by-bit before finally going in for the kill, you’d think movement will be key for Bivol. 

Regardless, even Canelo – who insists he cannot be beaten in current form – believes he’s in for a tough test.

‘[Dmitry’s] a really good boxer,’ he said. ‘He’s a solid champion at 175. It’s a dangerous fight. I like it, I love that kind of challenge. I really like it. But, I believe in my abilities, and I’m strong too. So, I’m confident in that, but it’s gonna be a really good fight.’

Bivol, meanwhile, is supremely confident of claiming a shock win, one Hearn has revealed would entirely derail Canelo’s plans.  

Gennady Golovkin

So long as Canelo emerges victorious over the weekend, he will then drop back down a weight once more to defend his undisputed super-middleweight crown, against none other then Gennady Golovkin.

The widely-feared duo have gone toe-to-toe twice before, with Golovkin arguably denied a deserved victory as they drew in 2017, before the rematch ended in a majority decision win for Canelo the following year. 

Much has changed since their last encounter, though, with Canelo defending his middleweight belts twice, before winning a world title at light-heavyweight and coming back down to dominate the super-middleweight division. 

Golovkin’s trajectory, on the other hand, has taken a different gradient, fighting just four times in almost four years, all against lesser opposition. 

Indeed, in beating Ryota Murata last month to unify the middleweight division, the veteran (42-1-1) looked much improved after his lacklustre performances against Steve Rolls, Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Kamil Szeremeta. 

Next up for Canelo, should he beat Bivol, will likely be a trilogy bout against Gennady Golovkin

The all-time great unified the middleweight division in April with victory over Ryota Murata

But with GGG now 40-years-old, and having undergone a frustrating spell of inactivity, most would make Canelo a heavy favourite should the trilogy bout come to fruition.  

There is, however, mutual animosity between the pair, particularly after their 2018 rematch was postponed after Canelo tested positive for banned substance clenbuterol, with the Mexican handed a backdated one-year ban. 

Canelo insisted the positive test was the result of tainted meat consumed in Mexico, but the bad blood between the pair remains.

‘He always says something about me; he always talking about me. That’s why [it’s personal],’ he recently told ESPN. ‘First is first: We’re talking about the Bivol fight. I need to win this fight and then we’ll see.’ 

Golovkin, who has never fought as heavy as super-middleweight, says the match-up isn’t personal, on the other hand. 

‘It is not personal for me,’ GGG told ESPN. ‘I moved on from those fights before I returned home. I do not dwell in the past. If fighting me again is personal to him, why did it take him four years to decide to do it?

‘Maybe he wants people to forget the first two fights because they are too painful for him? I do not know why because they were both great fights.’

Should Canelo prevail against Bivol, the trilogy bout will likely take place on September 17.  

A first fight in London

Up next for Canelo, should he prove successful against Golovkin once more, could be his first-ever bout in London. 

Hearn had previously revealed both London and Guadalajara of Mexico –  two cities Canelo is yet to compete in – as possible destinations for his fighter’s third bout of the year, which is set to take place in December. 

He then narrowed that down in April, however, revealing that London is Canelo’s preferred option. 

It’s a location that makes a lot of sense, given the options at hand for Canelo, who has mandatory challenges to defend at super-middleweight, which will also be the case at 175lbs should he defeat Bivol. 

At super-middleweight, an option is John Ryder, 33, who won a WBA title eliminator against Daniel Jacobs with a career-best performance in February in front of an animated Alexandra Palace crowd. 

The winner of Joshua Buatsi (left) and Craig Richards (right) could fight Canelo later this year

John Ryder (right) is also a possibility after his stunning February win over Daniel Jacobs

At light-heavyweight, Joshua Buatsi and Craig Richards also square off this month in a title eliminator for Bivol’s WBA strap. 

‘Canelo wants to fight in London in December,’ Hearn told talkSPORT. ‘We’ve got the mandatory for his super-middleweight championship and the mandatory for his light-heavyweight championship.

‘So John Ryder or [the winner of] Joshua Buatsi vs Craig Richards. We’re well-placed to provide him for one of those fights in London.

‘Buatsi vs Richards is a fight where the winner can stake a claim to be in those kinds of fights with Canelo. At the moment they’re two domestic, world class prospects.

‘You need to go out there and be involved in a big fight like that at the O2 to start calling out a legend like Canelo Alvarez. He’s going to want a dance partner in the UK.’

Artur Beterbiev or Joe Smith Jr for undisputed glory

Finally, completing Canelo’s new road to undisputed is an enticing bout against either Artur Beterbiev or Joe Smith Jr at light-heavyweight. 

The pair are scheduled to meet in a 175lb unification bout on June 18 at the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York, which could set up a huge undisputed showdown next year. 

Beterbiev – who has knocked out all 17 of his opponents – is undoubtedly the most feared fighter at light-heavyweight; he’s also the only holder of multiple belts, being the WBC and IBF champion. 

Smith Jr, on the other hand, is the holder of the WBO strap, which he won with victory over Maxim Vlasov last year, since successfully defending it against Steve Geffrard.  

Beterbiev will certainly go into the fight as the heavy favourite against the 28-3 Smith Jr in a battle of two huge punchers, despite the Russian’s inactivity of late, fighting just twice since his standout title win over Oleksandr Gvozdyk in October 2019. 

Russian Artur Beterbiev would be a tough ask for Canelo in an undisputed showdown next year

Beterbiev takes on Joe Smith Jr in an enticing light-heavyweight unification on June 18

And though now 37 years old – 38 by the time he would fight Canelo – a relentlessly aggressive Beterbiev would pose a monumental challenge to the pound-for-pound star.

Canelo, while claiming he will be around for another six or seven years, insists it’s this kind of test which he loves, however. 

‘I love boxing,’ he said. ‘I love a challenge. I love that adrenaline. I need to accomplish everything to be in the books of history of boxing. That’s why I’m here and I love what I do.

‘When you see the best fighter go up and down a weight class and beat all the champions? I think nobody, and I try to do my best. For boxing, for me, for my legacy.’

Canelo has already cemented his place in the history books forevermore, but if he does come through all the tests outlined above, he would surely soon enter the conversation for the best fighters in history.

Sign up here to watch the fight exclusively on DAZN 




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