Canelo Alvarez beat Callum Smith, Avni Yildirim, Billy Joe Saunders, and Caleb Plant to become the undisputed super middleweight champion in a four-fight stretch from December 2020 to November 2021. 

Following the prolific run, the king of the 168-pound division was crowned with 2021 fighter of the year honors, and boxing’s biggest breadwinner was widely considered the sport’s pound-for-pound best fighter.

But in May 2022, Alvarez bit off more than he could chew and was dominated via unanimous decision by light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol. In September 2022, Alvarez finished the trilogy with Gennadiy Golovkin and scored a comfortable unanimous decision win.

A nagging left wrist injury resulted in surgery soon after, and in May, Alvarez returned in a tune-up fight with a dominant unanimous decision victory over John Ryder. Although Alvarez dropped and bloodied the rugged Ryder, an expected stoppage escaped him.

Now at the age of 33, Alvarez is openly wondering if he’s lost a step following his recent three fights as he prepares to take on Jermell Charlo on Sept. 30 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Showtime pay per view. 

Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KOs) is embracing the underdog mentality even though he’s a -400 betting favorite to beat Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs), who is climbing up two weight classes to face him 

“These kinds of fights motivate me. I like being underestimated. That’s what makes me excited for this fight,” said Alvarez

“I always believe that I’m number one. My whole career. Because you need to believe in yourself. I still believe I’m number one. But I believe there is more than just one fighter alone at the top, there are a few.” 

Alvarez is promising he still feels young and fresh and foresees fighting for another five years

But he’s also honest with himself. 

The Mexican star punted on seaside training in San Diego and instead opted for a more intense camp for Charlo in a remote high-altitude town near Lake Tahoe, California. 

“We always prepare 100% no matter where we are. It’s different being here. At the beginning, I couldn’t breathe very well. But right now, I feel great. I’ve found a place that’s made me happy and strong,” said Alvarez. 

“I feel great. This is really one of the best camps I’ve ever had. I feel great to be able to train 100% now with my left hand. That’s made me more confident. When you train knowing that you’re healthy, you’ll be more confident in the fight.

“I like being here in Lake Tahoe because I’m 100% focused. It’s just me and my team and we’re focused on the fight. It makes me feel ready for the fight.”

With the Charlo fight, Alvarez is kicking off a three-fight deal with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, which is set to run through 2024.

A prodigious pack of possible opponents like David Benavidez, Demetrious Andrade, David Morrell, Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr. and Jermall Charlo are all waiting in the wings to ring the bell with boxing’s cash cow. 

“I always want to make the best fights out there. I’m excited to be in this fight. This is a fight that people have talked about for a while … Now Jermell is gonna feel my skills,” said Alvarez.

“He never believed in my skills, but he’s gonna find out soon.”

Alvarez can again believe in his own skills too with a turn-back-the-clock performance.

He can also prove that the reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated.

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer, and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at], or via