Five fighters who can beat Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez ahead of Dmitry Bivol test

Pound for pound king Canelo Alvarez returns to the ring this coming Cinco de Mayo weekend as he challenges unbeaten Dmitry Bivol for the WBA light heavyweight title.

Set for the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada, Canelo comes into the bout as a big favourite.

Unbeaten over the past nine years since a decision loss to the now-retired Floyd Mayweather, the flame-haired Mexican has become a dominant force in the sport, picking up title after title between the 154lb and 175lb weight classes.

Now, as he prepares to challenge the unbeaten 31-year-old Russian Bivol, Planet Sport has taken a look at some of the potential opponents that could yet challenge the seemingly near-invincible Guadalajaran native in the coming months and years.

David Benavidez 26-0

Widely viewed as one of Canelo's most potentially dangerous opponents, the unbeaten 25-year old steps back into the ring on May 21 as he challenges David Lemieux for the vacant WBC interim super middleweight title.

A former WBC super middleweight champion, Benavidez was stripped of his crown in 2018, having tested positive for cocaine use. Yet despite that career setback, El Bandera Roja has returned to the sport with three successive KO victories and should be expected to claim the scalp of the four-times beaten Canadian Lemieux later this month.

Boasting explosive power and come-forward aggression, the Phoenix born fighter has displayed serious star power in his rise towards the upper echelons of the super-middleweight class. However, the confident Benavidez has expressed his doubts as to whether a bout with Alvarez will ever come to fruition.

David Benavidez

"At the end of the day, we all knew Canelo wouldn't want to fight me. He's fought his tough fights, he's a businessman. For him, it's not fighting the best; it's business."

While it's hard to disagree with that exclamation, a showdown with Alvarez would undoubtedly set pulses racing.

Should the unbeaten 25-year old continue his exciting progression in the 168lb weight class in the coming months, Benavidez's claims could prove too loud to ignore, and he could yet prove to be the man to finally end the win streak of the brilliant Mexican.

Artur Beterbiev 17-0

David Benavidez

If Alvarez claims the WBA (Super) light heavyweight title this coming Saturday, it would be hard to ignore current WBC and IBF unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev.

Beterbiev, who takes on Joe Smith Jr in June as he looks to add the WBO light heavyweight title to his collection, would prove an obvious and likely candidate to face Canelo in 2023 with the opportunity to unify another weight class, an itch Alvarez would surely have to scratch.

At 37, Beterbiev is no spring chicken but having fought just 17 times over a nine-year unbeaten professional career, the devastating Dagestan born Russian Canadian has low mileage on his clock, with all seventeen of his victories coming inside the distance.

A hard-hitting graduate of the famed Dagestan fighting dynasty, Beterbiev could prove a particularly dangerous assignment for the relentless Mexican. However, with Beterbiev now signed to Top Rank and Bob Arum, it remains to be seen if a deal could be done with Alvarez now being guided by Eddie Hearn's Matchroom.

Jermall Charlo 32-0

Jermall Charlo

Another unbeaten pretender, WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo is a name that frequently appears near the top of most people's wishlist for future Canelo opponents.

Not to be confused with identical twin brother Jermell, the 31-year old Louisana native will defend his WBC middleweight title in June against Pole Maciej Sulecki, and while remaining an unbeaten champion, Charlo is very much in need of a big-name opponent as he looks to put the defining touches on a now fourteen-year professional career.

Lacking a career-defining bout on his resume, Canelo would certainly tick the boxes for Charlo but has the unbeaten American offered enough substance to deserve a shot at boxing's 21st century Golden Boy?

As the only American on this list, there remains every chance that a financially incentivised bout with Canelo could materialise down the line. However, it seems unlikely that the self-titled 'Future of Boxing' will win boxing's equivalent of the sweepstakes in the near future.

Gennadiy Golovkin - 42-1-1


Yes, for many of us, GGG has already scored at least one victory against Canelo, and his presence on this list seems almost insulting to the brilliant but ageing Kazakh.

Golovkin was very much the victim of boxing robbery when awarded only a draw in his first bout with Canelo in 2017, while many felt he was again unfortunate to lose a majority decision in their subsequent rematch in 2018.

Having now celebrated his 40th birthday, a third bout with Canelo is scheduled for September should Alvarez, as expected, add the WBA light heavyweight title to his burgeoning collection this coming weekend.

Yet, there can be little doubt that the big Drama Show is now very much in the twilight of his glittering career.

While Golovkin claimed the WBA middleweight title in April with a hard-fought KO victory in Japan against local hero Ryota Murata, the Karaganda born Kazakh did little to suggest that he remains capable of reaching the heights scaled earlier in his career.

Slower and easier to hit, there can be little doubt that Golovkin is a long way removed from his prime.

Indeed, there is an argument that GGG's legacy would be better served should he avoid the temptation of a rubber match with Alvarez. Let history decide his scale of achievements before Canelo adds another highlight-reel KO to his collection.

Of course, it remains unlikely that the always likeable Kazakh will ignore the riches and rewards offered up by September's scheduled bout, but it seems unlikely that he will be able to give Canelo the same kind of problems he did some five years ago.

Mairis Briedis - 28-1


Unlikely? Perhaps, but a move to cruiserweight to challenge WBC champion Ilunga Makabu had been mooted prior to the announcement of Canelo's upcoming bouts with Bivol and Golovkin.

Of course, Makabu, while a titleholder, is not nearly the top dog amongst the active 200lb cruisers, with Latvian Mairis Breidis currently in possession of the IBF and The Ring cruiserweight titles.

At 37, the 28-1 Latvian champion might not have much time remaining at the top of the division, but he remains a serious force, with that sole loss coming against the sublimely skilled Oleksandr Usyk back in 2018.

Standing tall at over six feet, Breidis is big and strong and, while the recognised number one in the division, is unlikely to fall into Canelo's radar until he's taken care of more pressing business in the 175lb and 168lb divisions.

Still, should a move to cruiserweight to first challenge Makabu materialise in 2023, a bout with Breidis would surely capture plenty of attention? It would require some serious cojones for Canelo though to capture all the glory in the 200lb weight class.

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