Mixed reviews have met the announcement of the next fight for undisputed super middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
Among those who are underwhelmed is the Mexican superstar’s former promoter.
Hall of Fame former six-division titlist Oscar De La Hoya found positive and negative takeaways from the recent news of Alvarez’s upcoming title defense versus England’s John Ryder. Matchroom Boxing confirmed on Tuesday that the bout will headline a May 6 DAZN Pay-Per-View event from Estadio Akron in Alvarez’s home state of Jalisco, Mexico.
The homecoming marks the first fight for Alvarez in his birth country since November 2011, which has been well received. The opponent choice, however, is another matter.
“I think it’s great that Canelo Alvarez is going back to his roots,” De La Hoya told Fight Hub TV while Duarte, California for a charitable event ahead of fight week in nearby Long Beach. “He’s going back to his hometown. I think it’s a special thing. We at Golden Boy were the last promoter to promote him in his hometown, I believe 12 years ago.
It makes me happy that he’s doing that for his people in Guadalajara.
“In terms of his opposition, I’m not sure in what direction he wants to go. It seems like he’s regressing inside the ring. He’s regressing in picking these opponents. He’s fighting all these British fighters that does nothing (for) his legacy.”
Golden Boy Promotions was the main promoter for Alvarez from January 2010 through November 2020, with their relationship ending in a bitter divorce. The Los Angeles-based company promoted two of Alvarez’s bouts before signing him to a multi-fight contract, leading to another 25 fights together as the Mexican superstar emerged as the face of boxing in the post-Floyd Mayweather era.
Matchroom Boxing has since become the lead promoter of choice for Alvarez. The bout with Ryder will mark their sixth union in his last seven starts. The exception was Alvarez’s eleventh-round knockout of then-unbeaten IBF titlist Caleb Plant in November 2021 to fully unify the super middleweight division.
Plant was one of three unbeaten titlists whom Alvarez dethroned to become undisputed champ. He outpointed Callum Smith (27-0 at the time) in December 2020 to win the WBA and vacant WBC titles. Two fights later, Alvarez stopped Billy Joe Saunders (30-0 at the time) after eight rounds to claim the WBO strap before ending Plant’s IBF reign.
Alvarez (58-2-2, 39KOs) then suffered his first defeat in nearly nine years when he was outpointed by WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11KOs) last May 7 in Las Vegas. A rematch clause was included in their contract, which has yet to be exercised. Instead, Alvarez returned to super middleweight where he defeated Gennadiy Golovkin—who moved up from middleweight—in their trilogy clash last September 17, also in Vegas.
Both events were among the best-selling PPVs of 2022 but paled in comparison to the type of fight nights previously headlined by Alvarez at the height of his popularity. There are varying theories as to why that is the case, though the greater concern is the different energy exhibited by the 32-year-old Alvarez when it comes to honoring his mandatory title defense obligations.
London’s Ryder (32-5, 18KOs) earned his place in line after a fifth-round knockout of unbeaten countryman Zach Parker last November 26 at The O2. The win came with the interim WBO super middleweight title and the promise of an immediate title shot versus Alvarez.
However, Ryder is viewed as a lesser challenger than others who’ve waited in queue for a longer amount of time. Former two-time WBC super middleweight titlsit David Benavidez (26-0, 23KOs) is the most attractive option of the lot and currently holds the interim WBC 168-pound title. David Morrell is the secondary WBA titlist. Neither sanctioning body has been in a hurry to dictate to Alvarez to honor such mandatories.
De La Hoya—whose 16-year-pro career served as the benchmark among his peers for taking on the toughest challenges—feels that Alvarez should want these fights rather than to be instructed to pursue them.
“I don’t know whose fault that is. I don’t want to mention anything,” noted De La Hoya. “I think Canelo should really analyze carefully who he wants to fight next. Whether it’s Bivol, whether it’s [Golden Boy co-promoted Jaime] Munguia. But he has to step up and fight the tough opposition.
“The tough guys who are out there who can give him a fight. It’s not the John Ryders of this world.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
ADD COMMENT VIEW COMMENTS (50)