According to promoter Eddie Hearn, Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) will next face his toughest test in his quest to become an undisputed champion at 168 pounds.
After an inactive 2020, Alvarez returned to action this past December and scored a dominant decision victory over Callum Smith to win the WBA (Super), WBC, and Ring Magazine Super Middleweight titles. He then ran through mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim last weekend in Miami in a stay busy fight, winning via third-round stoppage.
With two of the four recognized belts now in his possession, only WBO titlist Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) and IBF champion Caleb Plant remain as obstacles in Canelo’s pursuit of divisional supremacy.
On Saturday, it was announced by Matchroom Sport that Alvarez will meet Saunders in a unification bout on May 8. And according to Hearn, who currently promotes both Alvarez and Saunders, it’s the British southpaw who serves as Canelo’s toughest test at Super Middleweight.
“I think it’s a really tough fight,” Hearn told BoxingScene.com. “I was actually watching the fight there tonight, thinking about that fight, and thinking about the movement of Billy Joe. Do you know what I mean? Canelo, he has good feet, but Billy is gonna be spinning out everywhere. I actually think it’s gonna take [Alvarez] a long time to get a hold of him.
“I think it’s by far the toughest fight for Canelo in the division, a tougher fight than Caleb Plant, because Billy’s fast and he’s got better foot movement and speed than Plant. Plant is a good fighter, but I just feel that Saunders is definitely the toughest fight for him in the division.”
Canelo and Saunders were actually expected to fight last May, but the bout was scratched due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 30-year-old Saunders instead returned in December and scored a decision victory over Martin Murray. Having held titles in two weight divisions, the Brit is undoubtedly a skilled boxer, although he’s been criticized at times for showing a lack of urgency in fights. It’s also true that he’s yet to face a fighter the caliber of Canelo.
So while Hearn’s assessment may be true, Canelo will still enter the May 8 bout as the proverbial favorite. And if he once again finds himself victorious, a fight against Plant for all the marbles will likely await him.