Following his embarrassingly one-sided victory over Turkish challenger Avni Yildirim, Saul Canelo Alvarez's next assignment is a scheduled unification contest with the unbeaten British world champion, Billy Joe Saunders.
Announcing the fight immediately after his all-too-easy destruction of the outclassed Turk who did his best impression of a heavy bag, the unification bout is set for Cinco de Mayo as the Mexican bids to extend his long unbeaten run at the top of the sport.
Unbeaten in nearly eight years with just one loss in 57 fights, the flame-haired Guadalajaran is now considered the sports Pound for Pound best but faces a potentially tough test in the shape of the unbeaten WBO champion Saunders.
Boasting a stacked resume that includes notable wins over elite fighters including Miguel Cotto, Sergey Kovalev and Gennadiy Golovkin, Alvarez has firmly established himself at the top of the sport with impressive wins over Daniel Jacobs in 2019 and Callum Smith in December of last year, only adding to the Mexican's growing and glowing reputation.
Discussing the upcoming bout with Saunders, Alvarez, the current WBA (Super), WBC and Ring (lineal), super-middleweight champion acknowledged the scale of the challenge in facing the tricky, unbeaten southpaw from the Tyson Fury stable.
"He's a very difficult fighter. We need to go for him," he said. "People talk, but I'm a mature fighter. I know how to control myself. All I need to do is go into the ring, win and make history.
"I want to unify the division. No one has done it in Latin America. In the world, only a few fighters have done it - the best. I want to make history and be one of the best in the world."
Canelo a red-hot favourite
While the fight is undoubtedly considered to be one of the more potentially challenging assignments available to Alvarez, the Mexican enters the contest as a hot betting favourite, currently trading at 1/6 odds on with Sky Bet.
However, the occasionally controversial Brit is certainly confident of his chances, and given his skill set, has plenty of reason to believe he can upset the applecart in this clash of champions.
"Canelo, I'm ready to rock and roll," Saunders said.
"You have to dare to be great, and you aren't going to be a great if you don't beat the greats. I believe I am the only one with the footwork, knowhow, skillset, mindset and brain to unlock that door in Canelo."
"He's the main man in the sport and the face of boxing. You have to give him respect; he hasn't ducked anyone, he's beaten good names, but nobody is unbeatable, and I believe I have got the tools to beat him if I use them properly."
An undeniably skilful and dangerous southpaw, Saunders has perhaps failed to capitalise on the momentum generated by his impressive victory over David Lemieux in 2017, with the Brit only fighting four times in the subsequent four and a half years.
Still, Alvarez has struggled in the past when fighting southpaws with both Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout, perhaps unfortunate to lose tight decisions against the Mexican fighter. Of course, Alvarez has improved significantly in the intervening years and whether Saunders has the power to command his respect remains to be seen.
In recent contests, Canelo's ability to walk down opponents while paying little regard to what's coming back suggests that Saunders will need more than mere fleet of feet if he wants to return to the UK as the division's unified champion.
Where and when?
The fight is scheduled to take place on May 8, the Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend, a date Alvarez has made something of his own, having fought six times previously during this annual Mexican celebration.
While a venue remains unconfirmed, recent reports suggest that the bout could take place in front of 70,000 fans at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. However, given the ongoing pandemic, those attendance estimates would appear optimistic at best.
What's on the line?
The WBC, WBA Super, WBO and Ring Magazine titles are up for grabs in this super middleweight clash of champions.
Should Alvarez emerge with Saunders WBO strap, a fight with IBF champion Caleb Plant would give the Mexican a chance to become the division's first-ever undisputed super middleweight world champion in either the three or four-belt eras.
For Saunders, a win would likely go down as one of the most impressive ever achieved by a British fighter and would also leave him just one fight away from potentially being the first-ever unified super-middleweight king.
Where can I watch it?
The card will stream live on DAZN in over 200 countries across the planet. The UK and Ireland have yet to be confirmed, although with both fighters being part of the Eddie Hearn Stable, the bout is expected to be shown live on Sky Box Office.
Where's the value?
While Alvarez enters the bout as the undoubted betting favourite, odds of just 1/6 offer little value except for those with big pockets and plenty of confidence in the dominant Mexican.
However, Alvarez has occasionally struggled when fighting southpaws and Saunders, while relatively inactive in recent years, possesses enough skill and will to make this a difficult night's work for the division's ruler.
A slick and awkward customer, Saunders boasts impressive footwork, fast head movement and the ability to throw power punches from awkward angles. Possessing strong strategic skills and an impressive ring IQ, Saunders has remained unbeaten for good reason.
Should he follow the blueprint set out by the albeit and yet, perhaps controversially vested Lara and Trout, the 30-year-old Brit could yet surprise many, if not by winning, but certainly by making this a highly competitive fight.
Still, It would certainly take a brave punter to back the Saunders win, currently available at 4/1, but stranger things have certainly happened inside the hallowed squared circle.
Boasting something of a resemblance to a famous night in Dusseldorf in 2015, Saunders will need the fight of his life if he is to emerge victorious.
Just like his good friend Tyson Fury, who claimed the heavyweight crown in defeating Wladimir Klitschko - who at the time, was protecting a nine-year unbeaten run at the top of the sport.
Can parallels be drawn between that fight and this? Perhaps.
Like Fury, Saunders is a skilled and tough travelling fighter who will be fighting away from home and enters the contest as a heavy betting underdog. Like Fury, Saunders is considered the slicker, more awkward customer. Like Fury, Saunders is not expected to win.
Still, we all know what happened on that night, and yet, while Saunders enters the fight as a champion, this challenge is perhaps even greater than the one that faced the then challenger Fury in Germany.
Canelo is still in his prime and, given his recent performances, seems to be only improving with age. Saunders, while an unbeaten champion, has never fought anyone with nearly as much class as the Guadalajaran native and a crowd-pleasing victory should still be expected come what May.
However, I expect this fight to go the distance at decent value odds of 13/8. Canelo is 4/5 to win inside the distance and 5/1 to stop Saunders between rounds 10 to 12 with Saunders a massive 66/1.
While the upset still seems something of a fanciful notion for anyone but ardent Saunders supporters, the skilled Brit cannot be discounted in what should prove a fascinating contest between two contrasting super-middleweight champions.