Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez has got to be the oldest 33-year-old in boxing history.
On Saturday, in his 64th professional fight, Canelo will face a fellow undisputed champion in Jermell Charlo.
He belongs in a different era, a different time. We won’t see elite fighters like Canelo again.
We won’t see world champions having their 64th fight unless they’re coming out of retirement in a crossover fight in 2037 somewhere.
But I’m not so sure I subscribe to the idea Canelo’s powers are fading. I saw him up close and personal against John Ryder in May and he looked as sharp, as strong, as powerful as ever.
However, just the pure mechanics of it tells you that has to be the case – eventually. You can’t have all those fights and not fade.
You can’t have 20 fights before your 18th birthday, you can’t turn pro at 15, you can’t have 23 world-title fights in 12 years, you can’t fight as many as 20 excellent fighters throughout your career, and have all those hard rounds and it not take a toll.
Canelo’s only human after all. I mean, he’s at the far end of normal as a human, more super-human.
But human still. I’m assuming he’ll become an old man in one fight. But we’ve not seen that yet and I don’t think we saw that against Dmitry Bivol last year.
People want to jump on that and say that’s Canelo finished. But Bivol is a lot smarter and a lot better than people give him credit for.
The WBA light-heavyweight champion is too good to lose to a man as small as Canelo, no matter how easy it seems to be for Canelo to produce magic.
Bivol didn’t fall for his tricks. He stuck to the job and he did what he had to do. He wasn’t spectacular, but he was brilliant in his timing, his confidence and his feet.
That night, we didn’t see an old-man Canelo, we just saw a really good light-heavyweight beating a man who is nowhere near a light-heavyweight.
So I don’t see that as a sign of Canelo’s decline; however, it’s inevitable.
Two ‘boy fighters’ meet 16 years later
Perhaps we have been spoiled by the brilliance of Canelo. This fight against Charlo is a good fight and Charlo is good enough to warrant being in this fight.
But maybe we are spoiled that we want more. We’re used to super-fights when it comes to Canelo.
He moved to Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) from Matchroom Boxing earlier this year and we can only assume it was for money.
‘Iron Man’ Charlo, however, is a great fighter. He should be a much bigger star than he is.
Famously, few photographs exist of the mercurial and mysterious boss of PBC, Al Haymon. I’ve never seen him and I’ve been to countless fights of his down the years.
I know people who have met him and never heard a bad word about him. But he doesn’t do interviews.
Not like some of the British promoters.
So perhaps in that sense Haymon likes his fighters to be a bit like him, very wealthy and mildly anonymous.
Charlo is one half of a set of twins. He and his brother Jermall are both world champions.
Jermell is fast and slick. He’s actually two months older than Canelo, which is bizarre.
He’s by no means the new kid on the block. He turned pro when he was 17 years old, just two years after 15-year-old Canelo did.
He’s lost just one fight in 37 bouts, and had a draw against Brian Castano which he corrected immediately. That fight in May 2022 made him the undisputed champion at light-middleweight.
I think Charlo has beaten enough good men and been in hard enough fights to warrant getting this fight.
To be 17 making your debut as a pro and going on to achieve what he has, that’s a rare club.
There’s an incredible storyline to this fight. One kid was 15 and one kid was 17 making their pro debuts, both boy fighters, and here they are meeting.
Exactly 100 fights between them, both with massive winning records. That’s a great story. We won’t have this kind of thing again.
Charlo the ‘fresher’ fighter
Charlo might be slightly older, but he’s a lot fresher. I’ve got this feeling he’s going to really deliver.
Sure he’s going up in weight, but I always thought he was a big light-middleweight.
Canelo is going to be naturally bigger and stronger and weight will be an issue, but I don’t think it will be the issue.
I think we’re going to see the best of Charlo in Las Vegas. If he does have an Achilles heel, Canelo, it’s guys who are smart. Smart guys can give him headaches.
I’d liked to have seen Callum Smith with two arms fight him. Not saying he would have won had he not injured his bicep, but it would have been a much better fight.
I think Charlo will rise to the occasion. That’s why I’m very heavily considering the possibility that there will be screaming at the end assuming it goes the 12, and I fancy the 12.
It’s not an easy fight for Canelo. I’d be stunned if people aren’t screaming at the end with their interpretation.
He’s had an awful lot of those, Canelo has, when you look back on it. Where people look at a fight and think he may have lost it, or it was close, or it was so close he could have lost it if he dropped one more round.
I can see this being the same.