The five toughest opponents for Canelo Alvarez

Cotto Canelo Boxing

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (c) The Associated Press 2015

Canelo is arguably the biggest star in boxing. After Floyd Mayweather’s retirement and Manny Pacquiao‘s “semi-retirement” he has become the man. Everyone near the middleweight division would love to land a fight with him. However, being the top draw in boxing doesn’t mean that he is perfect. As he has risen in popularity and taken more high profile fights some cracks in his game have become more and more apparent, which is normal when you fight world class opposition. Below I rank the five fighters that would give him the most problems.

5. Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather Jr

Mayweather training (c) The Associated Press 2012

Mayweather being at the bottom doesn’t represent him being the easiest out of these five fighters. I ranked him at number five because the chances of him facing off against Canelo are very slim. If Floyd were not retired I would rank him higher as I believe he would still give Canelo a lot of problems in the ring. Mayweather thoroughly schooled Canelo when they met in 2013.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., Canelo Alvarez

Canelo versus Mayweather (c) The Associated Press 2013

Canelo was very young and unable to hang in the ring with the masterful Mayweather when they fough in 2013. His superb counter-punching ability, movement, and otherworldly defense frustrated Canelo from the opening bell. Mayweather’s defense was what flustered Canelo the most and I believe it still would. Canelo struggles with complete boxers, but he particularly struggles with defensive oriented slick fighters. If Mayweather and Canelo face off again expect Canelo to still struggle against him. Don’t let Mayweather’s age fool you, there’s a strong chance he would take Canelo back to the classroom.

4. Erislandy Lara

Erislandy Lara

Erislandy Lara training (c) The Associated Press 2014

Lara and Canelo fought a closely contested fight in 2014 where Canelo won via Split Decision. The fight was not an easy one for Canelo as he struggled to corner the elusive Lara while getting pot-shotted in the process. Lara is the type of fighter that is a nightmare for Canelo, an elusive, slick, defense-oriented fighter that can rack points while reducing confrontation.

Canelo Alvarez, Erislandy Lara

Canelo versus Lara (c) The Associated Press 2014

Canelo was visibly frustrated throughout the fight as Lara did laps around the ring while tagging Canelo as he pursued him. Lara is a product of the Cuban amateur system that emphasizes scoring points while minimizing any sort of engagement. This style is not only challenging for Canelo, but for any fighter out there, which is a testament to how good Lara is.

Canelo was able to work the body enough and solidify his role as the aggressor in the fight that two of the judges awarded him a split decision. However, if he fought Lara again expect a difficult fight. Canelo has been improving at an exponential rate every fight since clashing with Floyd Mayweather. However, he still struggles with fighters like Lara. His inability to properly cut the ring off and issues with conditioning would still make this fight a difficult one for Canelo.

3. Jermall Charlo

While he doesn’t have the name recognition of other fighters on this list Charlo is a big threat to Canelo. He is trained by Ronnie Shields who also trains Lara…you can guarantee that Shields has collected some important data on how to fight Canelo and even ink out a victory. Don’t let Charlo’s low profile fool you, he can fight. He has power in both hands, he’s slick, he has good movement, effective at cutting off the ring, and he is not afraid to engage. Charlo is a very complete fighter and that will give not just Canelo but any fighter in or around the Middleweight division problems. His counter-punching and ability to catch fighters coming in would give Canelo huge problems. I don’t think he has the power to knock out Canelo but he can stun him and frustrate him with his slick style.

2. Danny Jacobs

Jacobs.jpg

Danny Jacobs (c) The Associated Press 2017

I don’t know why this fight hasn’t been proposed or why fans are not clamoring for it. Danny Jacobs would not only make for an entertaining fight given his aggressive style, but he may even beat Canelo. Jacobs put on a scintillating performance versus Gennady Golovkin in 2017 and was the one to snap his vaunted KO streak (23 KOs in a row) by going the distance with GGG. He narrowly lost on the cards to GGG and it was a knockdown that made the difference in the bout.

Jacobs Golovkin.jpg

Jacobs versus Golovkin (c) The Associated Press 2017

Jacobs has very heavy hands and even seemed to hurt GGG in their bout. He is also very good with his combinations as he varies his attack between the body and head. His most dangerous attribute is the fact that he is fearless. Jacobs is called the “Miracle Man” as he was able to beat cancer and immediately began training despite doctors telling him he may not be able to fight again. I believe conquering something as life threatening as cancer made him fear no man, what else could he be afraid of? He illustrated this in his fight with GGG as he kept imploring GGG to engage and fight despite being knocked down once. This would be a very exciting fight to watch as Canelo loves fighters that come forward, but Jacobs can fight…if this fight goes down Jacobs could hurt Canelo in an exchange and even pull off a victory.

1. Gennady Golovkin

GGG.jpg

Gennady Golovkin (c) The Associated Press 2017

Golovkin and Canelo fought back in September in an great fight that ended in controversy. Many believe GGG won the bout due to his aggressive style, jabs landed, and ability to keep Canelo on his back foot. Canelo was very good at counter-punching and landing combinations in spots, but he was often derailed by GGG’s pressure who forced Canelo to retreat far too often. As Teddy Atlas said in his scathing analysis of the fight, Canelo was a log in the ocean and GGG was the ocean.

Alvarez Golovkin Boxing

GGG versus Canelo (c) The Associated Press 2017

When Canelo was able to connect GGG just walked through his punches as if he was the Terminator. Despite his efforts, the fight was scored a draw which angered many fans who believe he was robbed. GGG is aging and appears to be slowing down a bit, but he is still a very formidable opponent. Canelo seems to have conditioning issues as he only fights in spurts. GGG also has a granite chin that can take hay-makers that would KO anyone else in the division. Combine this with a masterful jab, massive power, a superb ability to cut off the ring, and the ability to walk through fire like the Terminator and you have GGG. If they rematch on Cinco de Mayo expect another firefight that would further test Canelo.

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