Bob Arum says trainer/manager Eddy Reynoso hasn’t spoken to him about putting a fight together between Canelo Alvarez and IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev. Arum says Reynoso “hinted” about Canelo facing WBO 175-lb champion Joe Smith Jr. in his next fight.
Arum believes that the idea is that Canelo (57-1-2, 39 KOs) will face Smith Jr. (27-3, 21 KOs) first, and then if he comes out victorious, the Mexican star will then take on the unbeaten Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) for a three-belt unification.
First, Joe Smith must successfully defend his WBO light heavyweight title next month against #8 WBO Callum Johnson (20-1, 14 KOs) on January 15th at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York. Smith vs. Johnson will be shown on ESPN+ at 9:30 p.m. ET.
It makes sense for the 31-year-old Canelo to take the fight with Smith first because he’s arguably a less risky fight than taking on unbeaten Beterbiev, but it’s still far from an easy contest.
Smith, 32, can punch with a massive amount of power, and he’s not going to spar with Canelo the way that Sergey Kovalev did in 2019.
The New Yorker Smith will be trying to take Canelo’s head of the entire fight, and he won’t stay in first gear the way Kovalev did. That was a very, very weird fight between Canelo and Kovalev.
If Canelo expects to get a similar sparring session from Joe, he’s sadly mistaken. For Canelo to beat Smith, he will need to increase his work rate from what we’ve seen from him at 168.
It’s dropped too low for the Mexican star to defeat elite-level 175-pounders like Smith, Beterbiev, and Dmitry Bivol.
Canelo could face Joe Smith Jr. next
“There hasn’t been any real conversations. We kibitz around about it but again, no conversations,” said Bob Arum to iFL TV when asked if trainer/manager Eddy Reynoso spoke to him about putting together a fight between Canelo and Artur Beterbiev.
“I think they might want to fight Joe Smith Jr. next and then go to Beterbiev to unify the titles. They sort of hinted at that,” said Arum about Team Canelo.
“That’s why this fight on January 15th between Joe Smith Jr. and Callum Johnson is so important.
“Canelo has this tremendous Hispanic fanbase, which is huge in the United States, and he’s able to draw quite well.
“What he is doing is not looking around and shopping for another promoter, but if somebody comes to him with the opponent that he wants to fight, then he’ll do it with the promoter’s opponent with certain restrictions.
“He [Canelo] did two fights with Eddie Hearn and two fights with PBC. If he wants to do a fight with Beterbiev or if Joe Smith beats [Callum] Johnson, then he’ll come to us. We have great a great relationship with him, and then we’ll make a deal with him.
“That’s perfectly acceptable. I love Canelo. He’s a really good guy, and Eddy Reynoso is a terrific trainer. They’re my friends, and I understand what the business is, and there’s no reason for them to hook up with any promoter,” said Arum.
If Canelo fights Joe Smith, he’ll likely do it after moving up to cruiserweight to take on Ilunga Makabu first for his title in May.
Once Canelo finishes up with Makabu, he’ll likely drop down to 175 to go after Joe Smith, provided he’s still in possession of his WBO strap.
Canelo will impress boxing fans if he chooses to take on Beterbiev next rather than waste time fighting Makabu and Smith Jr. first, but that’s not likely to happen. Although Canelo is viewed as a great fighter, he’s calculated and doesn’t take the risks that we saw from great warriors in the past.
Hence, he’s developed a well-earned reputation as a cherry-picker, and that’s not something he’s going to change now that he’s getting older. His energy levels are beginning to dip dramatically.
If Canelo chooses to try and become the undisputed champion at 175, he’ll likely fight Joe Smith Jr. first, followed by WBA champion Dmitry Bivol and then Beterbiev.
The reason why Canelo would follow that order is simple. Beterbiev is about to turn 37 next month on January 21st, and he’s starting to slow down.
If Canelo can wait until 2023 before facing Beterbiev, he’ll be 38, and he might be old enough at that point for Alvarez to beat him.
It would be a calculated opportunistic move by Canelo if he chooses to wait until 38 before fighting Beterbiev, but that’s likely what he’ll do.
Beterbiev vs. Bivol has no pizzaz
“Yeah, but really that fight [Beterbiev vs. Dmitry Bivol] has no pizzaz to it,” said Arum when asked if he’d be interested in setting up a unification clash between IBF/WBC 175-lb champion Beterbiev and WBA champion Bivol.
“Bivol is a very good boxer, but sort of a boring fighter. But people will look at the light heavyweight division and want to see shootouts like Beterbiev’s last fight against [Marcus] Browne [on December 17th in Montreal, Canada] and like this upcoming Smith fight with Callum Johnson.
“Bivol is an excellent boxer, but he’s sort of boring to watch. Yeah, absolutely,” said Arum when asked if he’d be interested in putting a fight together between Joe Smith Jr. with Anthony Yarde.
“He [Yarde] put up a great fight with Sergey Kovalev a while ago. He won the fight in good fashion with Lyndon Arthur, and yeah, from the standpoint of Joe Smith, he wants the biggest fights out there.
“Number one, the holy grail, obviously is to fight Canelo. Number two is to fight a unified fight with Beterbiev, and then the third would be to fight Yarde.
“A Beterbiev-Smith fight may be too expensive, given the demands for the fighters. So, Joe Smith, if he beats Callum Johnson may very well want to fight Yarde, which would be a very good fight,” said Arum.
There’s no point in Beterbiev taking on WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol because the boxing public isn’t demanding this fight, and it could be incredibly boring.
Bivol’s promoters would likely rather have him play it safe, fighting weak opposition while he waits for Canelo to appear in the division to challenge him for his WBA title.
Fighting Canelo will give Bivol life-changing money that he won’t get fighting Beterbiev or anyone else. As long as Bivol doesn’t lose his WBA title to Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez, he should be able to defend the belt when Canelo moves up or down in weight to try and become the undisputed champion at 175.