Vergil Ortiz Jr sees it as a good thing that Canelo Alvarez could be facing WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol next on September 18th instead of IBF 168-lb champion Caleb Plant who he’d been attempting to negotiate a fight with up until last week.
Unbeaten welterweight contender Ortiz feels that it’s impressive that the former four-division world champion Canelo (56-1-2, 38 KOs) would be willing to go up to 175 to challenge a fighter as good as Bivol (18-0, 11 KOs). That says something about Canelo if he takes this step.
Although this won’t be the first time that Alvarez went up to 175 to challenge for a world title, it would be a different story if he fought Bivol, who is in the prime of his career.
When Canelo briefly moved up to 175 in 2019, it was to challenge the aging, vulnerable WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev for his title.
Kovalev was nowhere near the fighter he’d been seven years earlier when he was in his 20s and knocking everyone out. Also, the fight looked peculiar in the eyes of some boxing fans, believing that Kovalev intentionally took it easy on Canelo.
The fans’ perception was that Canelo skillfully cherry-picked a shot [aka washed up] champion in Kovalev to win a belt rather than taking on the dangerous champions Artur Beterbiev and Bivol.
Now two years later, it’s possible that Canelo could be on the verge of taking a real risk by facing Bivol for his WBA 175-lb.
It’s unclear whether Canelo will be fighting for Bivol’s title or not, as the Russian fighter has volunteered to give him a huge handicap by coming down to 168 to make it easier on him.
If Bivol comes down in weight to fight Canelo, the Mexican star won’t get as much credit if he beats him. Moreover, if Canelo loses to Bivol, it will look worse for him given the weight drop the Russian fighter endured.
“It’s a shame the fight fell through with Plant,” said Vergil Ortiz Jr to Fighthub on the Canelo vs. Caleb Plant negotiations fizzling out. “You never know.
“There are so many things that go in negotiations. It’s not black and white, so I really don’t know what to say about that.
“I was reading something on Twitter this morning saying ‘just the question itself that Canelo would fight Bivol, that in itself is saying that fight is bigger than the Plant fight in a way.’
“Yeah, Plant has the other belt to make Canelo undisputed, but seeing Canelo fight Bivol is like, ‘Oh, damn.’
“It kind of makes you feel excited for the fight. Maybe even a little bit more than the Plant fight.”
You can argue that there would be a lot more excitement if Canelo chose to fight Bivol rather than Plant because he’s a more solid fighter and considered #2 in the 175-lb division behind Artur Beterbiev.
In the case of Caleb Plant, he’s not viewed as the #2 fighter at 168. Canelo and David Benavidez are seen as the two best fighters at super middleweight, and some would say that David Morrell Jr. and Carlos Gongora are also better fighters than Plant.
It’s hard to picture Plant, with his stamina problems and lack of power, beating any of those guys. For all intents and purposes, Plant is a belt-holder and nothing more.
He’s someone that was put in the perfect position to win an easy title by being matched against a weak champion Jose Uzcategui for the IBF super middleweight title in January 2019. If Plant had to fight Benavidez or Morrell for his IBF belt, he would have never become a world champion.
“Hey, if it happens, that’s going to be a great fight, and I got Canelo against anyone,” Ortiz Jr continued about Alvarez facing Bivol. “Oh yeah,” said Vergil in agreeing that the Canelo-Bivol fight is more exciting than the Plant fight due to Bivol’s size and strength.
“Of course, once he [Canelo] beats him, it’s just cherry-picking. You know how people are,” said Ortiz.
Canelo might not get credit if he drags Bivol down to 168 to fight him because it’s a different story when you have a fighter coming down in weight by that amount without the benefit of a catchweight.