Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is confident that Canelo Alvarez will choose to face his fighter IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev next rather than stick with his original idea of moving up to cruiserweight to fight Ilunga Makabu next May on Cinco de Mayo.
Arum thinks that idea is a no-go now for Canelo, considering that Makabu (28-2, 25 KOs) is being forced to defend his WBC strap against his mandatory Thabiso Mchunu on January 29th.
Beterbiev (16-0, 16 KOs) would be a dangerous opponent for Canelo, even more so than Gennadiy Golovkin. For those who don’t remember, it took Canelo years to finally agree to fight GGG after slowly building up to that weight class for three years.
“He has expressed interest to me about fighting Beterbiev or Joe Smith Jr. I would look forward to May or September, the two dates that Canelo likes to fight, that he would fight one of those light-heavyweights,” said Bob Arum to Sky Sports.
“Some will say Beterbiev is too big and powerful. Others will say Canelo is special and can handle everybody,” said Arum.
Beterbiev is actually smaller than Canelo’s past opponent Callum Smith, but he has a much better ring IQ than the big Brit.
You won’t see Beterbiev backing up against the ropes and covering up timidly the way that Callum did in his one-sided loss to Canelo. Also, Beterbiev is a huge puncher on the inside, and he would be capable of hurting Canelo in close if he chooses to try and battle him there.
Even when the WBC tried to order Canelo to fight Golovkin, he vacated his title rather than face him.
For Canelo to take a true risk against Beterbiev, he might not be willing to jump into that fight straightaway without having three or four easier fights against the likes of Dmitry Bivol, Joe Smith Jr., or Lyndon Arthur.
Although Canelo has a reputation for being a risk-taker, the truth is, he’s always taken calculated risks against guys that were beatable.
Makabu was losing to Mchunu going into the 11th round in their fight five years ago when he scored a surprise knockout. It’s very possible that Makabu will lose this time because he’s older at 34, and even more beatable than he was back then.
The real problem for Canelo is that he would need a huge promotion to interest boxing fans to see him fight the little-known Makabu, and he won’t get that due to him being stuck defending against Mchunu on January 29th.
By the time Canelo finds out if Makabu is still the WBC champion, it’ll almost be February, which will leave very little time to promote a fight between him and the obscure champion.
Beterbiev will be defending his titles this Friday night on December 17th at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. His opponent is his WBC mandatory Marcus Browne (26-1, 16 KOs).