Johnny Nelson gives his verdict on whether Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez is still the world's best pound-for-pound boxer and reveals what he expects the four-division world champion to do next after Saturday's shock defeat to Dmitry Bivol
Tuesday 10 May 2022 12:28, UK
Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez should "stay in his lane" after a shock defeat to Dmitry Bivol, as he would suffer a painful loss in a dream fight with Oleksandr Usyk, says Sky Sports expert Johnny Nelson.
Canelo lost by unanimous decision to Bivol on Saturday night as the Mexican failed to repeat his 2019 victory over Sergey Kovalev as he stepped up to light heavyweight for the second time in his career.
It was just the second loss of Canelo's career, nine years on from his first at the hands of Floyd Mayweather, but Nelson has warned the four-division world champion that he is unlikely to succeed against the best fighters at light heavyweight or higher.
In his natural weight division, Canelo is still the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, but what he's proved is, a good big fighter will always beat a good little one. Yes, he's stepped up in the weights and he's petered round left and right and beaten Kovalev and people like that.
But you've got to think, is he trying to collect belts to have it written down that he was a champion at x, y and z, or does he want to be looked upon as the best light-heavyweight in the world, the best super-middleweight, the best middleweight, the best cruiserweight in the world?
Because in doing that, you fight the best at the time. You fight whoever is at the top of the tree. You don't fight a faded champion and say, 'well, I beat him, he was champion.'
Canelo got in there with someone that was the same age, had the same ambition, was hungrier than he was, was not intimidated and had a strong game-plan. Bivol didn't fight on fear, he fought on confidence and self-belief.
Canelo definitely has got the ego to take the rematch. He did look flat-footed, he looked like he was in second place all the way through. Bivol had his number, he knew exactly what to do. He had his game-plan. His strength of jab was strong enough, his presence was strong enough - how often have you seen Canelo's presence be second place? Bivol proved he was too big, too strong and too fast.
Canelo has looked better than he did on Saturday night. I'm assuming in a rematch he'll come back and do something better or different. I also believe that he's now stepped up into a division where he's boxing someone at a naturally heavier weight, that can fight, that is a true champion.
It's a different kettle of fish to when you get Joe Bloggs that's just happened to be in position, with a world title. Canelo has got to be careful he doesn't fight certain people. Now he's gone in there with somebody that's a true champion and Bivol's shown, 'stay in your lane, son'. I'm not saying Canelo has lost it, he's just got to stay in his lane.
When Canelo was talking about stepping up to cruiserweight, me, as a former world champion at cruiserweight, I was like, 'what?' Any cruiserweight worth his salt would not let this man come up there and beat them.
The fight with Bivol showed that Canelo is good, but he's not big enough to fight someone as good at that weight. I know there's talk about him fighting Oleksandr Usyk, but that's probably just talk because Usyk would give him a beating. If it happened he'd get exposed again.
However, just because he's lost at light-heavyweight doesn't mean he won't go for a cruiserweight title. Nothing says he can't go for it. He's still in a position where he commands that TV and ticket audience. So he can say I'm now boxing for a cruiserweight title and get away with it.
It doesn't derail Canelo's plans at all. His pride and ego might say I'm going to fight Bivol again, I can beat this guy. The world's still his oyster, he's still one of the biggest, most marketable fighters out there. So you can't actually second guess his choice, he's still in a strong position, but for me, Saturday night proves he's got to stay in his lane, he's bitten off more than he can chew.
In his natural division as the undisputed super-middleweight champion, I still put Canelo up there, pound-for-pound the best. But at light-heavyweight, he's clearly not the best out there, because he's just been beaten.
Bivol just showed the blueprint that works for him. Go in there confident, direct and do what you've got to do. He's not loud, he's not flash, he's not brash, he got on with the job.