Canelo Alvarez returned to winning ways on Saturday as he boxed his way to a unanimous points win over Gennady Golovkin to end their trilogy.
The first two fights between the two had resulted in questionable judges’ decisions, with many fans feeling Golovkin decided he wanted to win at least one of them, but this time there was no doubt who was the better man of the night.
But Canelo was still far from his best. Prior to this year he was on a sensational run, rising to light heavyweight to beat Sergey Kovalev before vacating super middleweight within 11 months.
Canelo Alvarez got a comfortable point win over Gennady Golovkin on Saturday
Despite his win, Canelo didn’t seem to be at his best against Golovkin in Las Vegas
But he looked normal in his loss to Dmitry Bivol in May, and he couldn’t shine against Golovkin either, although he did raise his hand in the end.
Canelo turned pro at just 15 and has fought 62 fights in his 17-year career to date. It’s no surprise that it’s starting to show some signs of wear.
Is he on a permanent decline now or was 2022 just an outlier for the pound-for-pound star?
sports mail analyzes the possible reasons for dropping out of his last two bouts and what the future might hold for the 32-year-old.
Canelo revealed after his fight with Golovkin that he has been struggling with an injury to his left hand for several months.
He even claimed that he “can’t hold a glass” at the moment and will need surgery to ease the pain.
Despite this issue, Canelo was still able to control his fight against Golovkin with his lead hand, but this perhaps explains why his signature left hook lacked the usual snap, meaning the fight never looked like it would be in end far away.
Canelo is currently suffering from a hand injury which may have contributed to his loss to Dmitry Bivol
He couldn’t bother Bivol in May either, and it was noticeable that he didn’t use his jab regularly in this contest.
Canelo has admitted he doesn’t know when he will return to the ring after surgery and an extensive rest period may be what he needs to rediscover his spark.
His talent has never been in doubt, but at 32 he can’t afford to take significant injuries into the ring or more underperformance will follow.
The Mexican superstar has fought in three different weight classes in his last eight bouts.
Canelo’s willingness to bob his weight should be admired as he seeks to expand his legacy, but it may have affected his performances.
He fought four times at super middleweight between December 2020 and November 2021 and consistently delivered excellent performances.
However, his two light heavyweight bouts have made him look a little heavier and his stamina was an issue against Bivol as the Russian dominated the second half of their fight.
Canelo has looked tired in his last two bouts, leading to questions about his stamina
He was back at super middleweight for Golovkin, but once again looked tired in the last third of the fight.
This allowed the Kazakh slugger to find more joy later on, although it never looked like he would seriously challenge for the win after giving up so many early rounds.
There have always been question marks over Canelo’s fitness, but it has become a particular concern in his last two fights and it may not have helped that he’s been regularly adjusting his weight lately.
He’s held world titles in four different weight classes and maybe now is the time for him to settle back into a specific class so he doesn’t push his body too hard.
There is one obvious factor that could influence Canelo’s performance – his age.
At 32 it would be too early to say the end of his career is in sight, but it’s entirely possible he’s past his prime, especially considering he was in the paid as a 15-year-old ranks began. Year old.
It’s hardly uncommon for fighters to continue into their late thirties, and Golovkin deserves credit for completing 12 rounds with Canelo on Saturday at the age of 40.
However, he looked like a shadow of his former self in the ring in Las Vegas, showing that boxers can age overnight.
Golovkin seemed to have aged overnight against Canelo and that could happen to the Mexican
Pressure fighters who rely on intensity and work rate tend to have shorter endurance, while Canelo has proven to be a versatile boxer-puncher who can apply pressure but can also box his way to victory.
However, he charges his punches and throws most of his shots with bad intentions, and that can take its toll, as we saw with his hand injury.
He may now need to further adjust his style to remain effective at the highest level and manage his energy appropriately, otherwise his age could catch up with him sooner rather than later.
Canelo may not have been shining under the bright lights of Las Vegas, but he’s hardly short of options for his next fight.
After beating Golovkin, he spoke about chasing a rematch with Bivol to avenge his loss earlier this year.
That would likely mean returning to light heavyweight, although Bivol has previously discussed potentially leaving a division.
Canelo was beaten well by Bivol last time out but he insists this was just a night off and if they meet again he can beat him.
Canelo is adamant that he can settle the score and avenge his loss to Dmitry Bivol
Artur Beterbiev could be an option for Canelo although he would pose a significant risk
Canelo has proven he loves a challenge and he might decide to be even bolder and go after Artur Beterbiev.
While Bivol is a boxer of respectable strength, Beterbiev has become known for his pounding punches, which have knocked out all 18 of his professional opponents to date.
This would require another jump to light heavyweight for Canelo and he would likely be the underdog against the fearsome Beterbiev.
Should Canelo decide to stay at super middleweight there is an obvious fight for him against fellow Mexican David Benavidez.
Canelo could choose to stay at supper middleweight and take on David Benavidez (left).
Like Bivol and Beterbiev, Benavidez is undefeated and has had overtime wins in 23 of his 26 bouts.
He’s also only 25 and this could be a ‘torch-passing’ moment if he beat Canelo.
Canelo has previously been reluctant to fight other boxers from his homeland – the last Mexican he faced was Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2017.
However, based on recent interviews, his stance seems to have softened and he might now be open to taking on Benavidez in a delicious domestic fight.
The British Dream
Canelo is hardly a stranger to facing Brits – he has faced no fewer than seven opponents in his career.
However, he has never fought in Britain, which he has previously stated he would like to do.
It’s likely he’ll face Bivol, Beterbiev or Benavidez next, but a trip to the UK might not be too far away.
Canelo worked with Matchrooms Eddie Hearn and DAZN for both fights this year, but his lucrative deal with DAZN has now expired, leaving him as a free agent.
However, he seems to have a close relationship with the promoter and the broadcaster and may decide to continue working with them. Should he choose to go that route, Hearn may have some British opponents lurking.
Canelo could come to the UK to fight prospective light heavyweight Joshua Buatsi
A fight with Chris Eubank Jr. on British soil could also appeal to Canelo at some point
Light heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi is close to a world title and the Olympic bronze medalist has built a decent following in London, making him a possible option for a duel at the O2 Arena.
Meanwhile, John Ryder has also become a popular fighter in the capital, claiming a win over one of Canelo’s former rivals, Danny Jacobs.
Despite Ryder’s improvements at 168lbs, Canelo would still be the big favorite to beat him and the Mexican may see this as the perfect opportunity for him to show off his skills in front of the British fans.
Then there’s Chris Eubank Jr. Hearn wasn’t shy to reveal that he’s had trouble negotiating with the Eubanks in the past, but he did manage to set up a huge national row between Eubank Jr and Conor Benn to take place will be ranked next month.
Eubank Jr. is still one of the biggest names in British boxing and if he gets past Benn it could lead to a fight with Canelo, possibly at a football stadium in the UK.