By Sean Jones: Promoter Bob Arum believes Canelo Alvarez may change his mind and face Artur Beterbiev next rather than sticking with his original idea of facing Ilunga Makabu for his cruiserweight title.
Canelo will get far more respect from the boxing public by challenging IBF/WBA light heavyweight champion Beterbiev (16-0, 16 KOs) next than he would against Makabu. There’s no comparison.
Beterbiev, 36, is defending his titles this Saturday night on December 18th on ESPN against his upset-minded IBF mandatory challenger Marcus Browne at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.
Artur Beterbiev vs. Marcus Browne on Saturday
The 2012 U.S Olympian Browne (24-1, 16 KOs) has put himself in the position to challenge Beterbiev with an impressive 10 round unanimous decision victory over Denis Grachev last April.
Provided Beterbiev wins his fight against the 31-year-old Browne, he’ll be available to defend his IBF & WBC 175-lb titles against Canelo in a MASSIVE battle next May on the Cinco de Mayo holiday in Las Vegas.
Arum says it’s problematic for Canelo (57-1-2, 39 KOs) to go up to cruiserweight for his next fight in May, partly because the guy he wants to fight, little known WBC belt-holder Makabu (28-2, 25 KOs), has a title defense on January 29th against Thabiso Mchunu.
Canelo having to wait until almost February before he knows if Makabu will still have his WBC title in his possession is a problem, which leaves very little time to prepare and promote the fight before May.
For a fight between Canelo and the obscure champion Makabu, a lot of time and promotional will need to go into this albatross level fight.
It’s a terrible fight on paper because casual boxing fans have no clue who Makabu is, and many of the hardcore boxing fans view him as by far the worst of the champions at cruiserweight.
Beterbiev or Joe Smith Jr. possibilities for Canelo
Canelo gains a lot more from fighting the unbeaten, highly rated Beterbiev than he does against Makabu. In contrast to Makabu, who is ranked as the worst of the champions at cruiserweight, Beterbiev is viewed as the #1 fighter in the 175-lb division by boxing fans.
Suppose the idea is for Canelo to impress fans from future generations with his accomplishments during his career. In that case, he’ll do a lot more by beating Beterbiev than he would by capturing a fifth division world title against the weakest link among the champions at cruiserweight in Makabu.
“I think they will have to abandon it,” said Bob Arum to Sky Sports on Alvarez potentially choosing to fight Beterbiev next rather than Ilunga Makabu.
“I know Canelo pretty well since he was a young man. 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,” Arum said.
Canelo vs. Beterbiev will be HUGE
“Some will way Beterbiev is too big and powerful. Others will say Canelo is special and can handle everybody. It is one of the biggest fights in boxing,” said Arum.
There will be a tremendous amount of interest in a fight between Canelo and Beterbiev if that one comes next. Beterbiev is well thought of by hardcore boxing fans worldwide, and he’s a dangerous puncher with an excellent inside game.
If Canelo wants credit for taking on Beterbiev, he needs to do it soon because the Russian fighter is getting older. Beterbiev will be turning 37 next month on January 21, and that’s ancient for a boxer.
Canelo already has a reputation of fighting elite guys like Gennadiy Golovkin, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Shawn Mosley, Miguel Cotto, and Daniel Jacobs when they were in their mid-30s rather than in their prime.
Waiting until Beterbiev is 38 or 39 before fighting him will take away much of the credit Canelo will receive IF he beats him. By the same token, if Canelo loses to Beterbiev with him that age, it will make the loss look worse.