In April 2021, Eddy Reynoso, head trainer of unified super middleweight champion Saúl ‘Canelo’ Álvarez (57 -2 -2), insisted his team isn’t scared of Artur Beterbiev (18-0), boxing’s fearsome unified light heavyweight champion.
At the time, Alvarez was prepping for his May 8 showdown with Billy Joe Saunders.
“It’s going to be a tough fight (with Saunders) but I think after the fourth, fifth rounds we are going to move on,” Reynoso said via www.fdbplus.com.
So, what about a showdown with unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev?
In reference to a possible Canelo vs Beterbiev light heavyweight title showdown, Reynoso, via the aforementioned source, added:
“… (Beterbiev is not a monster) That is the fight that I would also like, after unifying the 168 (pounds) if we do well. I hope we do well. I would like to fight Beterbiev at 175 and why not do it next year.” (Keep in mind, that was said over a year ago).
Of course, we won’t see Canelo vs Beterbiev this year – Especially in lieu of Alvarez’s points loss to Dmitry Bivol, the light heavyweight division’s other undefeated champion. Instead, Team Canelo has opted to face rival and current unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin for a third time in September in what some consider a softer touch as opposed to an immediate rematch with Bivol or bouts with Charlo or Beterbiev.
And by the way, last month the 37-year-old Beterbiev demonstrated he IS a legitimate monster, overwhelming Joe Smith, who had also held a version of the light heavyweight belt, in less than two rounds.
After witnessing Canelo’s problems against the larger Bivol and subsequently watching Beterbiev quickly and systematically take apart a tough and dangerous opponent in Joe Smith, Team Canelo has to be reconsidering where the fearsome Beterbiev sits in their future plans.
Simply put, Artur Beterbiev is one of the best fighters on earth and probably the best knockout artist in the sport today. And no, it wouldn’t be a stretch to put him atop of a pound-for-pound list.
|Artur Beterbiev: Most significant fights
Won TKO 2 Joe Smith, Jr
Jun 18, 2022
Won KO 9 Marcus Browne
Dec 17, 2021
Won TKO 10 Oleksandr Gvozdyk
Oct 18, 2019
Won KO 4 Callum Johnson
Oct 06, 2018
He hasn’t faced a lot of big names because he’s been of the most avoided fighters in boxing since 2014. He’s scored all of his professional wins to date by stoppage and boasts an extensive amateur pedigree along with elite-level technique and punching power. And, thus far, he appears to have a solid chin.
And let’s not forget that when he’s floored, he gets back up and fights harder. And he’s also capable of knocking out opponents late in the fight. Hence, he’s not a 4 or 5-round fighter who’s no longer dangerous in the back half of a bout.
Does all of that mean Canelo, given his loss to Bivol, won’t face Beterbiev next year or in 2024?
For starters, Canelo has always faced the best so it’s more likely than not that Beterbiev will remain a possible opponent for Canelo so long as the latter wins.
Second, Canelo is tailor-made for the rangy, slippery, and very fast Bivol while the aggressive Beterbiev’s size and style are more amenable to Canelo’s strengths, from a purely stylistic standpoint.
No, that doesn’t necessarily mean Bivol is a more difficult opponent; it simply means his size and style are less complimentary to Canelo than Beterbiev’s (all things being relatively equal, of course).
And third, Artur will be 38 in January. Although he shows no signs of slipping, sometimes age can hit a boxer like a brick wall.
Remember Roy Jones? He went from being a top 3 pound-for-pound fighter to unequivocally over-the-hill in a year’s time. And he was just 34/35; younger than Beterbiev. In contrast, the great Muhammad Ali defeated a slew of great fighters while in noticeable decline.
If Beterbiev is still unbeaten but shows signs of slowing later this year (against Anthony Yarde) and/or in 2023, don’t be surprised if Team Canelo rolls the dice and pursues a fight with Artur next year or in 2024.
|Canelo Alvarez: Most significant fights
Won TKO 9 Billy Joe Saunders
May 8, 2021
Won TKO 11 Sergey Kovalev
Nov 2, 2019
Won UD 12 Daniel Jacobs
May 4, 2019
Won MD 12 Gennady Golovkin
Sep 15, 2018
Draw 12 Gennady Golovkin
Sep 16, 2017
Won KO 6 Amir Khan
May 7, 2016
Won UD 12 Miguel Cotto
Nov 15, 2015
Won SD 12 Erislandy Lara
Jul 12, 2014
Lost MD 12 Floyd Mayweather
Sep 14, 2013
Won UD 12 Austin Trout
Apr 20, 2013
Won UD 12 Shane Mosley
May 5, 2012
From a legacy standpoint, a loss might not hurt Canelo as much as some think as he’s accomplished a lot already.
The legendary Sugar Ray Robinson, considered by many experts as the greatest boxer ever pound-for-pound, lost his light heavyweight tilt to champion Joey Maxim, a quality fighter but was certainly not the monster Beterbiev is.
Robinson, boxing masterfully, was clearly winning the fight before being overcome by the 100-degree heat and passing out in the 13th Round. Given Robinson went up in weight and had already dominated in the welterweight and middleweight divisions, his loss to Maxim is virtually inconsequential from a legacy standpoint.
Should Team Canelo not rule out facing Beterbiev in the future? Should they target a Bivol rematch? And do you think Alvarez will face David Benavidez (26-0) or Jermall Charlo (32-0) next should he be victorious against Golovkin in September?