What next for Canelo after unifying super middleweight division?

After brutally stopping Caleb Plant, Canelo will return to action in May 2022, but who will he fight?

What is next for the great Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez?

Canelo dispatched the previously unbeaten American Caleb Plant in the 11th round after a brutal show of strength in Las Vegas.

Plant fought skillfully and showed great heart to climb off the canvas in the penultimate round after Canelo had downed him with a left hook and uppercut combination.

However, Plant was never going to recover and the referee waved off the fight soon after.

Plant, who had a full blown conversation with Canelo in round nine, could not trouble the brilliant Mexican, despite winning the opening round on all three judges' scorecards.

The big question mark was whether 'Sweethands' could deliver enough power to stop Canelo in his tracks.

The answer was an overwhelming 'no' as Canelo, who had the word 'undisputed' already etched on his glove, broke down his younger opponent round by round to become the first ever undisputed champion at 168 pounds.

Canelo's 60-fight record (57-1-2, 39 KO) has seen him beaten just once - by the imperious Floyd Mayweather Junior in 2013.

Having fought four times in the last 11 months on his road to undisputed, Canelo says his "body needs a rest" and he will not fight again until May 2022.

"We're always looking for the best fights. Defending the titles is important, but right now we're focused on enjoying this moment, this is really meaningful," he said in the aftermath of his win at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

What looks certain is that the 31-year-old's days at middleweight look over.

What next for Canelo?

He does have options at super middleweight, none though jump out as a promoter's dream. Meanwhile, a return to light heavyweight is also a play that could come into Canelo's thinking.

If he opts to remain in the 168-pound division then a trilogy fight with Gennady Golovkin could be the play.

Time is running out for 39-year-old Kazakhstan fighter Golovkin, who last fought in December 2020.

The pair have met twice before in 2017 and 2018. Golovkin went 24 gruelling rounds with Canelo. The first bout was a split draw, with Canelo winning the rematch via a majority decision.

Golovkin though pushed Canelo all the way and stood toe to toe with the powerful Mexican. The pair traded punches and the promise of a third tussle may well appeal to the paying public.

Nobody has dared to stand and fight with Canelo. Plant tried, but by the seventh when Canelo invited him to trade shots, the Tennessee-born fighter quickly aborted that approach.

DAZN will push very hard for the trilogy as two million fans tuned in for the first two fights, but Canelo has not welcomed the idea so far.

Golovkin is scheduled to fight Japanese star Ryota Murata in a middleweight unification bout on December 29. And a fight with 35-year-old Murata could be an option if he defeats Golovkin.

Murata (16-2, 13 KO) is a massive star in Japan and there could be huge money on offer for Canelo if he headed to Asia.

Murata was promoted to being the WBA middleweight super champion in January after Canelo vacated the crown.

Former two-time 168lb titleholder David Benavidez (24-0, 21 KO) will be the choice of a lot of hardcore boxing fans. The Phoenix-born fighter takes on late replacement Kyrone Davis on November 13 and if he comes through that he could find himself in line to take on Canelo.

He looks like the biggest physical threat to Canelo at super middleweight.

British challenger?

One interesting possibility, as far as British fight fans are concerned, is Zach Parker.

The 27-year-old Parker (22-0, 16 KO), from Derbyshire, is in position for the WBO mandatory order to face Canelo.

He stopped fellow Brit Marcus Morrison in four rounds in Birmingham at the weekend and his promoter Frank Warren would jump at the chance to challenge Canelo.

"Too big, too strong for these super middleweights," said Parker after his win over Morrison. "I want Canelo to win, if Plant wins there's going to be rematch. I want Canelo next; I've been mandatory for two years now. If Canelo wins tonight and doesn't want it, I want Chris Eubank, stop being a s***thouse. Let's have it.

"The British fans want me to wipe [Eubank] out, whoever gets in this ring, I'm going to wipe out. We're going right to the top."

The fight will unlikely hold much appeal in North America though with Canelo wiping the floor with a series of Brits down the years. Matthew Hatton, Ryan Rhodes, Amir Khan, Liam Smith, Rocky Fielding, Callum Smith, and Billy Joe Saunders have all been brushed aside by the Guadalajara-born boxer.

Light heavyweight division

The BBC claim "a more likely scenario would see Alvarez moving up a weight class" in a bid to dominate the light heavyweight division.

It's certainly not unfamiliar territory for Canelo, who knocked out Sergey Kovalev in 2019 to win the WBO belt at 178 pounds.

Canelo had stepped up two weight divisions to face the 36-year-old Russian and he made light work to take Kovalev out in the 11th round.

If he does decide to venture up in weight once more then Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev will be at the top of the list.

Both are relatively unknown, but both are unbeaten. Bivol holds the WBA belt, but it may well be Russian Beterbiev who Canelo's team may fancy challenging. The IBF and WBC champion has knocked out all 16 of his opponents to date and faces Marcus Browne next month.

Of course former US Olympian Browne could come into the reckoning himself he beats Beterbiev in Montreal.

Maverick Canelo options

Meanwhile, New Yorker Joe Smith Jr is a left field option. The WBO light-heavyweight champion was hospitalized with COVID-19 recently which saw his light heavyweight title defence against Umar Salamov postponed.

His power could certainly trouble Canelo, as his 21 knockouts in 27 fights suggests. He may though not be skilled enough to cope with the Mexican and his profile may not be big enough.

The other maverick option might be to fight the UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman.

The weights will be well matched, and the Nigerian has a huge following, which may sway the promoters despite him having no boxing experience.

UFC president Dana White, who was ringside to watch Canelo vs Plant, recently said: "I think he's the greatest welterweight ever."

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