Canelo Alvarez returns to action this week against undisputed light middleweight world champion Jermell Charlo. The bout will see Charlo move up to 168 lbs to take on one of boxing’s biggest stars and the undisputed king of the super middleweight division.
For Alvarez, the bout will mark his second contest in 2023, having previously defeated John Ryder back in May by unanimous decision. For ‘Iron Man’, however, this will mark Charlo’s first action since a 2022 win over Brian Castano. Charlo had been set to take on top contender Tim Tszyu back in January, but a hand injury caused the fight to be delayed. That’s when an opportunity to face Canelo came calling. An opportunity the Lafayette, Louisiana native wasn’t about to turn down.
Jermell Charlo sees Canelo fight as chance for boxing stardom
A sizeable underdog heading into this Saturday’s PPV event, Charlo isn’t exactly pinning all his hopes on beating Alvarez. However, the 33-year-old knows that a win here could be a career defining moment. If he could beat Alvarez and lay claim to the Mexican fighter’s collection of super middleweight belts, he’ll make himself a major target for every other notable fighter near the weight class.
“A win over Canelo will let me know that I am right where I should be,” Charlo said at a recent media event for the PPV bout (transcript via Boxing Scene).
“And if I need more work to do, then I got more work to do. A win over Canelo will stamp me as one of the greats. I take his belts then I have to fight the Mexican Monster [David Benavidez], Caleb Plant, and all of the big boys, right? I’m going to have all of them motherf***** trying to fight me. And I got the short little Omaha fisherman [Terence Crawford], or whatever you want to call him – the net carrier.”
“This is a dream come true, just like winning undisputed, winning a world title and making it out the mud was. Once you get this far and see yourself prospering, you just want to keep bringing it. I’m staying focused on handling business.”
Freddie Roach backing Jermell Charlo for the upset
Despite actually being two months younger than Charlo, legendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach feels that Canelo Alvarez has already put his best days behind him. Alvarez went on an amazing 42-fight unbeaten run over the first eight years as a pro, winning the WBC, WBA, and Ring light middleweight titles. That streak ended at the hands of Floyd Mayweather in 2013. An unfortunate speedbump in the then-23-year-old’s career, but not one that put a halt to his success.
Following his loss to Mayweather, Alvarez went on another prolonged winning streak, going 16 fights without a loss (including an avenged draw against Gennady Golovkin). The Guadalajara-born fighter won belts at middleweight, super middleweight, and even light heavyweight before running headlong into the unstoppable force that is Dmitry Bivol.
After that loss, Canelo returned to super middleweight for a trilogy bout with Gennady Golovkin—winning that fight by unanimous decision. However, it seems despite picking up another clear victory over his longtime rival, Roach seems to feel the fight marked a turning point in Alvarez’s career.
“Canelo has had an outstanding career,” Roach said at a recent press event (transcript via Boxing Social) And even though I had Gennadiy Golovkin winning their first two fights, I was impressed with the way Canelo fought him. If Charlo was fighting the version of Canelo before he fought Golovkin, I would favor Canelo. But that’s not the case. This version of Canelo will not be able to handle Charlo.”
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Teddy Atlas echoes Roach’s doubts
It seems Roach isn’t the only noted boxing insider feeling that fans may have seen Canelo’s prime already come and gone. Roach also seems to have pinpointed the Golovikin fight as a pivot point in his opinion on the Mexican superstar. Most notably, he seems to feel that the 40-year-old ‘Triple G’ over-performed in the matchup, and that Canelo let the fight stay too competitive.
“Triple-G is beyond his time,” Atlas explained in a recent episode of his podcast (transcript via Boxing Social). “He hasn’t fought since Canelo. That Canelo fight he did a lot better than people thought he would do. He went the distance. It showed me a lot of things. One is that GGG is at the end of his career, there is not much left beyond his character. He is not the same fighter. He is not Triple-G anymore.”
“[That fight] also showed me Canelo is overrated.
“I know the Mexican fans weren’t waiting to hear that. But it did, it showed he couldn’t get rid of him at this point in his career. As much as a lot of people build him up, he should have got rid of him. It showed me Canelo is slipping. Whatever he was, great or almost great, whatever that level was, it’s a little less now. He’s slipping.”
At the moment, Charlo sits at a comfortable +300 underdog line on several sports books, with Canelo riding the favorite line between -333 and -435. If Roach and Atlas are to be believed, that may mean a major chance for gamblers to earn big—as well as a shot for Charlo to become the man everyone wants to fight.
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