What next for Canelo?
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is the rising star of Mexican boxing who recently announced himself on the world stage with a 12 round decision over Matthew “Magic” Hatton to win the vacant WBC Light Middleweight title. The title may have been thrust upon the red headed Mexican youngster who’s only 20, though it’s the next move in his career that promises to be the most exciting. No longer will Canelo be allowed to fight the sort of opponents he has been facing in either smaller men or older men, not comes the danger fights.
Out of Canelo’s last 5 opponents only one could have been considered a natural and prime Light Middleweight, Argentinian Luciano Leonel Cuello, though you could argue he was better suited at Welterweight (where he won the interim WBC Latino title). Other than that he has faced 2 smaller men in Matthew Hatton a man who has made his career mainly at Welterweight and Jose Miguel Cotto a Lightweight and 2 much older men in Carlos Baldomir and Lovemore N’dou who were both 39. As a champion Canelo is almost certainly going to be a wanted man by the WBC’s ranked contenders.
The WBC may be seen as somewhat malleable when money is available for them, they did recently allow Jose Antonio Aguirre to fight for a world title despite losing 7 of his last 9 fights, though with Canelo they have a problem being too easy on him, he’s viewed as the star of Mexican boxing. He’s a “name” and fans will take notice a lot more on who he defends against rather than Gilberto Keb Baas defends against. A look at the WBC rankings shows some solid and tough tests in their top 15, though they also contain some somewhat easier contests.
Where we may well be going
What is unlikely is to see Canelo facing a Top Rank promoted fighter (see table above) due to an ongoing feud between Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya, the head of the two companies. Alfredo Angulo is also unlikely to be the opponent due his legal issues and although the fight would promise excitement it could well end the unbeaten run of Alvarez. I would also rule out Paul Williams for now due to his stunning KO loss to Sergio Martinez in a middleweight title fight a few months ago.
This rules out 6 of of the 19 possibles that he would be allowed to face, it is also very unlikely that Golden Boy would put Canelo in with Erislandy Lara, why sabotage one man for the other at this point in their career? I’d also assume you could rule out several of the Europeans (Novikov, Nergadze, Baysangurov, Della Rosa and Jonak). Which means the 19 possibles have been massively cut down to leave about 6.
Who does all this leave?
This leaves either Ryan Rhodes or Lukas Konecny as the most likely contenders though Sergio Mora is also a possibility as are Vegara and Mosquera. Mora has struggled to make the 154lbs Light Middleweight limit and with his loss to Brian Vera last time out it’s very unlikely he’ll be anything other than the last resort. Rhodes has been waiting for another title opportunity for a long time, ever since his loss in 1999 to Jason Matthews for the Interim WBO Middleweight title. His win over Jamie Moore in 2009 was thought to have been an eliminator for this very title though he has been overlooked time and time again.
Konecny’s argument for the title is perhaps a little less strong but still a solid one. He has fought throughout Europe unlike Rhodes (who has never left Britain), including fights in Germany, the UK, Russia, Poland, Slovenia, Italy and Spain and would certainly go to the USA for this chance. He, like Rhodes, has failed in a previous title challenge (losing a relatively close Split Decision to Serhiy Dzinziruk). He’d certainly be a better style match up to allow “Canelo” to shine as he’s a very in your face pressure fighter compared to the moving style of Rhodes.
Although a fight with either man maybe disliked by the American public they are both reasonable matches that very well should be made. Although the WBC will likely be open to some other match ups outside of their 19 ranked fighters in some cases it’s unlikely a that too many fighters that fit in the other categories will fight.
The WBC Rules
Quoting their own online rule book:
1.21 Championship Defense Obligations.
a) Voluntary Defense Obligations: All WBC recognized champions must defend their title at least two (2) times a year. Champions will defend their titles either in a voluntary or mandatory defense, as follows:
any of the top ten (10) rated contenders;
upon a majority vote of the Board of Governors, any boxer rated from 11 to 19 positions;
a champion or a top-10 rated boxer of another immediate lower or higher weight division, subject to the majority vote of the Board of Governors;
a former or retired world champion upon majority vote of the Board of Governors; and
another boxing organization’s champion recognized by the WBC, upon majority vote of the Board of Governors.”
Source: for the rule book and rankings http://www.wbcboxing.com/indexEng.php
The future looks bright though from now on life will be getting harder in the ring for the young Mexican.