By: Sean Crose
The past decade has arguably belonged to Canelo Alvarez. After losing to Floyd Mayweather in a 2013 superfight, the young red head simply buckled down, and – slowly and steadily – developed both as a fighter and as an attraction until he finally found himself recognized as the top pound for pound boxer in the world. From 2018 to 2021 Canelo was arguably at his zenith, besting the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Daniel Jacobs Billy Joe Saunders, and Caleb Plant, among others. It was a magnificent stream of victories, history making stuff. Indeed, there were moments where Canelo truly looked like an all time great. His poise, his conditioning, and his punching power – especially to the body – could border on frightening.
Then came Canelo’s failed 2022 attempt at wresting the WBA light heavyweight title from the undefeated, and cerebral champion, Dmitry Bivol. While no one could fault Canelo, who had faced Mayweather at well less than 160 pounds, for having lost to the very talented and determined 175 pounder Bivol, questions of whether or not he was slipping nonetheless began to arise. This was especially true after Canelo looked less than stellar in his following fights, against arch foe Gennady Golovkin, and John Ryder respectively. Granted, Canelo won those fifths handily, but he didn’t look like the man who had wiped out Caleb Plant back in 2021.
And now Canelo is facing undisputed junior middleweight champ Jermell Charlo, a very talented and experienced fighter who, like Canelo, was able to rise above the heap without having had a perfect record. Considering the fact Charlo is making a major jump in weight classes for the Canelo fight, the man is rightly viewed as the underdog. Charlo, however, is actually taller than Canelo. Plus, he doesn’t have the nagging questions Canelo has hanging over his head. A loss to Canelo won’t – or at least shouldn’t – harm Charlo’s reputation. A loss to Charlo, however, would lead people to perhaps rightfully argue Canelo’s best years are definitively behind him.
In a sense, Canelo has do more than simply defeat Charlo this coming weekend in Las Vegas. He has to show that he isn’t in outright decline. Of course, no one would shake their heads if Canelo ended being past his prime. Canelo has contributed more than enough to the sweet science at this point in his resume. No one, however, wants to be seen as heading into the downside of a career. This is especially the case with professional boxers, who own sense of identity, it seems, can get wrapped up in the perception of ring prowess.