Canelo Alvarez: Next fight options post Angulo

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KO), in a grand display of speed, accuracy and sheer brutality, defeated Alfredo Angulo last night, earning a controversial 10th Round stoppage over the battle-tough "El Perro." While the referee's decision to end the contest remains questionable, Canelo's performance was not.

It was, perhaps, his most impressive fight to date.

So who should the explosive Canelo fight next?

Given his his newfound celebrityhood and desire to fight only on pay-per-view (PPV) going forward, tune-up fights are out of the question.

Alvarez must face a well-respected opponent who is capable of galvanizing the level interest needed to produce the sums of money he now demands for his fights.

Last fall, it was agreed Canelo would have three matches in 2014 with each on PPV.

The bouts were scheduled for the following dates:
  • March 8
  • July 26
  • November 22

Let's take a look at prospective opponents for Canelo's next fight, should he step in the ring again July 26.

Erislandy Lara (19-1-2, 12 KO)
WBA Jr Middleweight Champion
The sport's hardcore contingent would give Team Alvarez props for facing such a tough opponent and the winner would likely catapult to the top five or six on most media's pound-for-pound list.

Lara is a bigger threat than Angulo was so the ultimate question, as it relates to Canelo vs Lara, would be: Will Team Canelo be compensated more for taking what will be perceived to be a greater risk?

Erislandy Lara would be a dangerous assignment for anyone, including the sport's top fighter, Floyd Mayweather.

Canelo vs Lara would be a true superfight, skills-wise, but would the sport's casual fans buy into it?

Is the Cuban still too much risk for the reward?

Answer: Probably. Look for Canelo to fight Lara when the latter has more mainstream appeal and/or a larger fan base. But make no mistake, Canelo and Lara appear to be on a collision course.

Cornelius 'K9' Bundrage (32-5, 19 KO)
A former IBF Jr Middleweight Champion, K9 wields respect and credibility in the boxing community. However, the 40 year old Bundrage did not look overly impressive in his last two bouts.

Furthermore, although Bundrage boasts two wins over Cory Spinks, he hasn't faced an opponent near Alvarez's level in quite sometime and has fought only four times in as many years.

Past his prime or not, Bundrage is still a formidable foe with excellent power who would be favored against anyone not in the division's top 10.

Is K9 in the Canelo Sweepstakes?

Answer: If so, he's low on the list. What's missing from Bundrage is a world title. Moreover, if Canelo were to face him in July, K9 would be coming off a defeat. Those factors, in addition to his age and recent performances, may seal his fate as a Canelo opponent this summer.

Carlos Molina (22-5-2, 6 KO)
IBF junior middleweight champ Carlos Molina's first title defense against Jermall Charlo was supposed to be on the Canelo vs Angulo undercard but was scrapped due to the champ's lingering legal issues.

In an ugly affair last September, Molina dethroned Ishe Smith to win a major world title, something Team Alvarez undoubtedly covets at the moment.

Carlos Molina is boxing's 'hard luck' fighter and, thanks to a few flukes, has lost some bouts he clearly should have won.

Win or lose, though, Molina is one of those fighters who can make anyone look downright inept. Just ask James Kirkland, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Erislandy Lara.

The overriding theme of such a bout would likely be: Can Canelo Alvarez knockout or look dazzling against a solid world champion who has made a career of spoiling his opponents' showcases?

A decisive win over the skillful, cagey Molina would not only make Canelo a world champion again, it may cement his place as a top 7 or 8 pound-for-pound fighter. 

If Molina trumps his legal problems, will he rise near the top of the Canelo Sweepstakes?

Answer: Yes. He owns a major world title and has shared the ring with some big names. Also, given he was supposed to fight yesterday, he's already in shape and presumably has no obstacles (sans his legal issues) that would prevent him from agreeing to a July showdown.

However, don't be surprised if Canelo vs Molina, should it happen, is a stinker of a fight.

Vanes Martirosyan (33-1-1, 21KO)
Tall, lean and extremely skillful, this ex Olympian was once the most avoided fighter in the sport and undoubtedly has the tools to pose a legitimate threat to Alvarez.

The only blemishes on his ledger are a split decision verdict to WBO Champ Andrade and a draw with WBA Champ Lara.

Martirosyan is without a title or a win over a big name but, skills-wise, is every bit an elite fighter. But unlike Alfredo, the technically superior Vanes isn't overly crowd-pleasing nor does he possess the aura of machismo "El Perro" exhibits. 

Vanes has been chasing Canelo since 2011. Will he finally get a shot in July?

Answer: Although Vanes would be a sizeable underdog versus Canelo, he's still too much risk for the reward because he lacks the star power to enthrall the masses on a PPV level.

Demetrius Andrade (20-0, 13 KO)
One of the most celebrated amateurs in modern United States amateur boxing history and a slick southpaw, Demetrius  Andrade owns a world title and is undefeated as a pro.

A towering 6'1," this former 2008 Olympian is one of boxing's hidden treasures.

Extremely tactful, Andrade is not easy to hit and would be, minus Floyd, the most polished opponent in prime form Canelo has faced to date. And yes, that includes Austin Trout.

Despite being granted a split decision verdict over Vanes last year, Andrade impressively outlanded Martirosyan 219-97 according to Compubox.

Is the Martirosyan victory and ownership of the WBO Light Middleweight title enough to excite the public on the PPV level?

Answer: Maybe. Unfortunately, not enough people know who Demetrius is at the moment.

James Kirkland (32-1, 28 KO)
This 29 year old Texan is a faster, more explosive version of Alfredo Angulo. Moreover, Kirkland is also a knockout artist who fights with unbridled grit and determination.

Kirkland came back from the brink of destruction to stop Angulo - with minimal controversy - in Fall 2011 in what became a 'Fight of the Year' candidate. Round 1 was Hagler vs Hearns-esque... It was that good.

Rest-assured, Kirkland, like Canelo, will bring the fireworks and a fight between these two would be action-packed and unlikely go the distance.

James is without a major world title but has been showcased on boxing's biggest stage mutiple times. He looks destructive in highlight reels and, like Angulo, he can be smacked around a bit.

Canelo vs Kirkland in July?

Answer: If it's not already a real possibility, it should be. Top of the list.

My picks for Canelo's next fight are (in order of liklihood):

Prospects not mentioned due to unavailability:

  • Miguel Cotto - The Puerto Rican fight legend faces Sergio Martinez in June so a July 2014 bout with Canelo, or anyone else, won't happen
  • Peter Quillin - The WBO Middleweight Champion fights April 26. A superfight so soon (July 26) would be cutting it very close.
  • Sergio Martinez - The lineal middleweight champion, who fights Cotto in June, has two more fights on his HBO contract.
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