By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Canelo Alvarez’s four-knockdown destruction of Rocky Fielding altered Oscar De La Hoya’s perspective on his franchise fighter competing at 168 pounds in his next fight.
De La Hoya considered Alvarez’s debut at the super middleweight limit as a perfect opportunity to add a world title in a third weight class. Once Alvarez floored Fielding four times – once apiece in the first and second rounds, and twice in the third round – De La Hoya realized that the Mexican superstar can compete within the 168-pound division regularly.
“Tonight, Canelo fighting at 168 showed that he can either fight at 160 or 168,” De La Hoya said during a post-fight press conference. “So we’ve already set aside the T-Mobile Arena for the weekend of Cinco de Mayo, in Las Vegas. We have no opponent whatsoever. Zero. We’re not even thinking about nobody. We are gonna enjoy the holidays. We are going to enjoy our families. And then, as a team, collectively, we will choose who Canelo is going to fight, whether it’s at 168 or at 160. So he has many choices right now, as we speak.”
Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs and Jermall Charlo are the opponents at 160 pounds that seem to interest fight fans most.
Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs), who lost a controversial majority decision to Alvarez in their rematch September 15, and Brooklyn’s Jacobs (35-2, 29 KOs) are contemplating signing with DAZN to secure fights against Alvarez, who holds the WBA and WBC middleweight titles. Houston’s Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs) is the WBC interim middleweight champ, but he is aligned with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions and is less likely to square off against Alvarez before Golovkin or Jacobs.
When pressed during the post-fight press conference about why he’s not seriously considering matching Alvarez against Golovkin, Jacobs or Charlo next, De La Hoya responded incredulously.
“And then, who’s saying I’m not?,” De La Hoya said. “We’re gonna go after the top guys. I mean, Canelo has been fighting the top guys. I mean, who fights Golovkin back-to-back? You know? Look, we have, or Canelo has proven over and over, and Canelo wants to fight the very best. There’s no doubt about it. We’re just not saying now who he’s gonna fight. But fighting him at 168 has opened the doors to new possibilities, to new opponents. You know, now he can choose from a pool of many, many fighters from 160 to 168. So yeah, the pool has gotten bigger.”
De La Hoya told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that Alvarez will not fight Golovkin a third time or face Jacobs on May 4 at T-Mobile Arena.
If the former junior middleweight champion remains at super middleweight for his next bout, two of his top options appear to be WBA “super” champion Callum Smith (25-0, 17 KOs) and David Benavidez (20-0, 17 KOs), who was stripped of his WBC title after testing positive for cocaine late in August. Gilberto Ramirez (39-0, 25 KOs) holds the WBO title, but he said after defeating Jesse Hart by majority decision in their 12-round rematch Friday night that he intends to move up to light heavyweight for his next fight.
England’s Smith would present a particularly interesting challenge for Alvarez. The Liverpool native is the WBA’s true champion at 168 pounds and he stopped Fielding (27-2, 15 KOs) in the first round of their November 2015 bout.
“I will have an answer for you right after the holidays,” De La Hoya said. “You know, like I said, [Alvarez] just came off this fight. We’re gonna enjoy this moment. But like I said, whether it’s at 168 or 160, there are plenty of challenges out there for Canelo.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.