The task of trying to figure out how to make the 2021 version of Saul Alvarez look human falls to Caleb Plant this weekend.

While it’s a challenge Plant is clearly relishing, it is not an easy one – far from it. 

Alvarez is not just a pound-for-pound fighter but for many he is the best in the world today and a generational talent.

The Canelo who was outwitted, outfoxed and outboxed so comprehensively by Floyd Mayweather seems to be long gone. He is now a multi-faceted boxer who can be scientific or brutal, he can fight on the front foot or back, he can stick it on an opponent or make them do the work.

He’s also doing it all while making it look effortless. Sometimes, when he just appears to be standing there, good, world class fighters can’t do anything – perhaps in fear of being counterpunched but also unable to figure out his rhythm, his methodology and his tactics.

Canelo has become so well-rounded, moulded by his 59 fights that it has become increasingly difficult to find fault in him.

Of course, there will be many who will never forgive him for the 2017 positive clenbuterol test and that is understandable, but there are many with plenty of knowledge about PEDs who said his tainted meat excuse is highly believable. 

Regardless of that, it is certainly not something he has been allowed to forget.

There are also those who say all of the drugs in the world won’t make you the best fighter in the world, something Canelo has a real claim on.

Sure, you can always go back to the Mayweather landslide defeat or the Erislandy Lara controversy and the first fight – in particular – that many thought he had lost against Gennady Golovkin, but those were in 2013, 2014 and 2017. Times change, people adapt and fighters improve. And goodness has he improved. He’s not only done that, but he’s maintained his passion, desire and drive. 

So many say that when they find the top the hardest part is staying there but Canelo made it to the top and then put his foot to the gas.

On his way he has found an antidote for everything and it has not just happened with him working behind closed doors but by fighting at a high level twice a year since 2012, bar 2020 when he fought just once – against Callum Smith.  

He may have lost rounds here and there but that’s often all part of the plan – make an opponent feel safe and walk them on to a shot, drip feed them moments of success and then strike. He’s happy to lose the occasional battle as long as he wins every war.

He is prepared to throw countless feints to get his opponent to make one false move. He’s happy to throw any number of timid jabs to the body to distract an opponent while he lines them up for an overhand right. He boxes in the bigger picture, not frame by frame.

When you look at what different opponents have brought, there’s little he has not seen or beaten. He’s had Sergey Kovalev’s size and power at 175, Billy Joe Saunders’s southpaw skills at 168 and the poise of Danny Jacobs. He’s faced the punching power of James Kirkland, the speed of Amir Khan, the strength of Golovkin and the experience of Miguel Cotto. He’s got so good it is hard to see who might beat him. 

There are dream fights with Artur Beterbiev and Dmitriy Bivol at light-heavyweight but for me, it could get bigger than that. Plenty would make him favorite against cruiserweight king Mairis Briedis. 

It would be like Sugar Ray Robinson’s attempt at Joey Maxim at light-heavy, or Roy Jones’s big win over John Ruiz at heavyweight. Canelo winning the big one at 200lbs would be huge, and it’s doable but not a gimme which makes it both viable and attractive. 

Briedis is a quality fighter. He’s only lost once in 29 fights and that was to another boxer on the pound for pound list, Oleksandr Usyk. And he gave Usyk a tough fight. But, several weeks ago, Canelo shared a picture on his way back to 168 and he was down to 175 then. If he could get Briedis on the hook at 192 or 195lbs – as can often be done when the money the big boys generate comes in to play – then it would be a doable fight.

“Absolutely,” said Briedis’s promoter, Kalle Sauerland. “Canelo seems to want to fight through the divisions and fights the top guys in each weight. Next would be cruiserweight and despite there being lots of great fighters in the division let’s face it, there is only one man to beat.”

First comes Plant and, of course, he shouldn’t be overlooked but it is always difficult not to do that when a very good boxer comes up against a great one.