Every time Canelo finishes fighting one guy the biggest topic in boxing is who does he fight next? As it gets closer to his usual fight dates the media start to produce stories about whos the front runner for his next opponent whether it’s true or not. Over the last month we’ve gone from the Canelo vs Billy Joe Saunders fight is signed to him fighting Ryota Murata in Japan. Neither of these were true and we now know that the Murata fight isn’t happening as his promoter Bob Arum said that negotiations have broke down. Now the hunt for his next opponent starts again and so I thought I’d go through some options he has and whether any fighter deserves the Canelo pay day at this point.
For me this is the biggest problem instead of fighters in the middleweight and Super Middleweight division fighting each other they are content to play it safe and try and win the Canelo lottery when most don’t deserve it at this point. There are in my opinion three names that Canelo could pick next and all of those come in the super middleweight division. He’s not going to go all the way down to middleweight and hes vacated his title at Light heavy so its likely hes done with that division too. Out of the Super middleweights he’ll only fight the champions which leaves four names Caleb Plant, David Benavidez, Billy Joe Saunders and Callum Smith. It won’t be Benavidez because hes got a mandatory coming up and isn’t with Dazn so it would be surprising if they paid step aside money to make that fight especially considering Benavidez isn’t a big name.
The first of the three names I can see Canelo fighting next is Caleb Plant. Plant holds the IBF title and is making his second defense on the 15th February. If he comes through that fight he would have enough time to prepare for a Canelo fight and PBC would 100% be willing to send him to Dazn to get the biggest fight of his career. This wouldn’t be a bad fight to watch but also likely won’t happen because theres easier fights to be made with in house fighters on Dazn and Plant isn’t well known. He also doesn’t deserve the fight considering he’s had two title fights and his first defence was vs an embarassing opponent. Mike Lee wasn’t a top contender and had done nothing to deserve a chance at a title the only thing he brought to the table was an undefeated record of 21-0. Another thing going against Plant is that Uzcategui the man he beat to become champion lost in his second comeback fight vs an opponent he was expected to beat. This makes Caleb Plant’s win over him not seem as significant because people can say well Uzcategui wasn’t that good anyway and its justified. As of right now he doesn’t really deserve a massive Canelo pay day but if he got it I wouldn’t complain as to be fair to him he hasn’t been begging for it like others.
The second of the three is Billy Joe Saunders who currently holds the WBO title after he won it vs Shefat Isufi. I don’t think this fight would be especially great to watch but it’s likely you’ll see a Canelo KO at least. Billy Joe Saunders isn’t that well known and Canelo would be banking on UK fans watching to make it a big event. This fight would be easy to make as Saunders has been begging for a big fight for years and has recently signed with Eddie Hearn who works for Dazn. Saunders is 29-0 with six title fights under his belt but has never unified or fought the number one guy in his division. Out of his six title fights only two of them are significant while the rest were tune ups until the big fights. The first was when he won the WBO middleweight title vs Andy Lee in a close fight and the second was when he schooled David Lemieux in Canada. His other title fights including when he won the vacant WBO title at super middleweight don’t mean all that much especially what he’s achieved at super middleweight. Not only was the title vacant but he then defended it against a middleweight no one had heard of on the KSI vs Logan Paul card to add to the embarrassment. On the positive side I think hes fairly beaten every opponent hes faced and 6 world title fights is more than most champions achieve, hes got good but overrated boxing skills that could cause Canelo problems and it would also sell very well PPV wise in the UK.
I think Saunders has paid his dues in boxing to get a big name now and while I wish he had unified a division or had a few better names on his resume before he fought Canelo I’m not mad if he gets the opportunity. In Comparison to the other two names he has achieved more as he’s a two weight world champ and hasn’t had any truly controversial decisions.
The final potential opponent for Canelo is Callum Smith the WBA world champion. This fight might be the most entertaining of the whole lot and is certainly easy to make as like Saunders Callum Smith is with Eddie Hearn. Smith is a big 168 pounder and is likely only staying at the weight in the hopes of a Canelo fight. Even Saunders is more well known than Smith as Smith doesn’t have the body of work Saunders has and also doesn’t have the out going personality that Saunders has. The one thing Smith does say is that he wants the Canelo fight again and again which is understandable as its the biggest fight available to him. The problem I have with this fight is that Callum Smith has had 3 title fights and most people believe that he lost his 3rd one. As well as robbing John Ryder of his chance of being champion he also fought a washed up middleweight in Hassan N’dam in his first defence. That leaves him with one good win at Super middleweight and that was vs George Groves who then retired after the fight. Entertainment wise I wouldn’t mind this fight but it would make me annoyed if Smith got this fight before he gave Ryder his deserved rematch.
I personally think it’s going to be Billy Joe Saunders for Canelo next because hes looked slow at super middleweight and isn’t coming off a controversial decision like Smith is plus hes a two weight champion which Plant isn’t. I don’t mind too much who Canelo fights as its always a big event because of him anyway but it would entertain me to see him pick John Ryder just to spite the people that mention his name so much