20.09.2022
What comes next for Canelo Alvarez after beating Gennady Golovkin?

Canelo Alvarez returned to winning ways on Saturday as he boxed his way to a unanimous points win against Gennady Golovkin to end their trilogy.

The first two contests between the pair had led to debatable decisions by the judges, with many fans feeling Golovkin decided to win at least one of them, but this time there was no doubt as to who was the better man on the night.

Yet Canelo was still far from his best. Prior to this year, he had been on a sensational run which had seen him move up to light-heavyweight to beat Sergey Kovalev before cleaning out the super-middleweight division in the space of 11 months.

But he was made to look ordinary in his defeat to Dmitry Bivol in May, and he failed to dazzle against Golovkin as well, despite getting his hand raised at the end.

Canelo turned professional at just 15, and has had 62 fights across his 17-year career to date. It is no surprise that he is starting to show a few signs of wear and tear.

Is he now on a permanent decline or has 2022 been a mere blip for the pound-for-pound star?

Sportsmail analyses the potential reasons for the drop-off in his last two fights, and what the future could 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 a number of months.

He even claimed that he ‘can’t hold a glass’ at the moment, and will require surgery to alleviate 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 trademark left hook lacked its usual snap, which meant that the bout never looked like ending inside the distance.

He was also unable to trouble Bivol in May, and it was noticeable that he did not bring his jab into play regularly in that contest.

Canelo has admitted that he does not know when he will return to the ring post-surgery, and an extensive period of rest may be what he needs to rediscover his spark.

His talent has never been in doubt, but at 32, he cannot afford to be carrying significant injuries into the ring or more sub-par performances will follow.

The Mexican superstar has fought at three different weight classes in his last eight fights.

Canelo’s willingness to move up and down in weight ought to be admired as he looks to add to 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 outstanding performances.

Yet his two fights at light-heavyweight have seen him look a little more cumbersome, and his stamina was a concern against Bivol as the Russian dominated the second half of their contest.

He was back down at super-middleweight for Golovkin, but he looked fatigued once again in the final third of the fight.

This allowed the Kazakh brawler to have more joy late on, although he never looked like seriously challenging 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 issue in his last two fights, and it might not have been helped by him regularly adjusting his weight recently.

He has held world titles in four different weight divisions, and perhaps now is the time for him to settle back down in a specific division so that he is not demanding too much from his body.

There is the obvious factor that could be affecting Canelo’s display – his age.

At 32, it would be too early to say that the end of his career is in sight, but there is a real possibility that his best years are now behind him, especially when you consider that he started in the paid ranks as a 15-year-old.

It is hardly unusual for fighters to continue into their late thirties, and Golovkin deserves credit for going 12 rounds with Canelo at the age of 40 on Saturday.

However, he looked a shadow of his former self in the ring in Las Vegas, showing that boxers can age overnight.

Pressure fighters who rely on intensity and work-rate tend to have a shorter shelf-life, while Canelo has demonstrated that he is a well-rounded boxer-puncher who can apply pressure but also box his way to victories.

He does load up on his punches, though, throwing most of his shots with bad intentions, and this can take its toll, as we have seen with his hand injury.

He may now need to continue to his adapt his style to remain effective at the top level, managing his energy appropriately, otherwise his age could catch up with him sooner rather than later.

Canelo may not have shone under the bright lights in Las Vegas, but he is hardly short of options for his next fight.

After beating Golovkin, he spoke about chasing a rematch with Bivol to avenge his defeat from earlier this year.

That would likely mean going back to light-heavyweight, although Bivol has previously spoken about potentially coming down a division.

Canelo was well beaten by Bivol last time, but he insists this was just an off-night and that he can get the better of him if they meet again.

Canelo has proven that he loves a challenge, and he may choose to be even more daring and go after Artur Beterbiev.

While Bivol is a boxer with respectable power, Beterbiev has become known for his thudding punches which have seen him knock out all 18 of his professional opponents so far.

Once again, this would require a jump up to light-heavyweight for Canelo, and he would likely be the underdog against the fearsome Beterbiev.

Should Canelo opt to stay at super-middleweight, there is one obvious fight for him to take against fellow Mexican David Benavidez.

Like Bivol and Beterbiev, Benavidez is also unbeaten, and he has picked up stoppage wins in 23 of his 26 fights.

He is also only 25, and this could be a ‘passing of the torch’ moment if he were to beat Canelo.

Canelo has previously been hesitant about fighting other boxers from his homeland – the last Mexican he faced was Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in 2017.

However, his stance appears to have softened based on recent interviews, and he may now be open to taking on Benavidez in a mouthwatering domestic clash.

Canelo is hardly a stranger to taking on Brits – he has faced no fewer than seven in his career.

He has never fought in the UK, though, which is something he has previously stated he would like to do.

It seems likely that he will face Bivol, Beterbiev or Benavidez next, but a trip to the UK may not be too far down the line.

Canelo worked with Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn and DAZN for both of his fights this year, but his lucrative deal with DAZN is now up, leaving him as a free agent.

However, he does appear to have a strong relationship with the promoter and the broadcaster, and could decide to continue working with them. Should he decide to go down this route, Hearn has some British opponents potentially lying in wait.

Light-heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi is edging towards a world title shot, and the Olympic bronze medallist has built a decent following in London, making him a possible option for a clash at the O2 Arena.

Meanwhile, John Ryder has also become a popular fighter in the capital, and is coming off a win against one of Canelo’s former rivals Danny Jacobs.

Despite Ryder’s improvements at 168lbs, Canelo would still be the heavy favourite to beat him, and the Mexican may see this as the perfect opportunity for him to showcase his skills in front of the UK fans.

Then there is Chris Eubank Jr. Hearn has not been shy in revealing that he has had difficulties negotiating with the Eubanks in the past, but he has managed to put on a huge domestic scrap between Eubank Jr and Conor Benn, which is due to take place next month.

Eubank Jr is still one of the biggest names in British boxing, and if he can get past Benn, this could lead to a fight with Canelo, potentially at a football stadium in the UK.

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Sport What comes next for Canelo Alvarez after beating Gennady Golovkin?