LAS VEGAS — Promoter Eddie Hearn said Wednesday that Canelo Alvarez had asked him to see if Oleksandr Usyk would be willing to fight him. Hearn said that Alvarez was confident he would win if Usyk, the IBF-WBA-WBO heavyweight champion, would fight him at 201 pounds, one over the cruiserweight limit.
Usyk held the undisputed cruiserweight championship as recently as 2018, so it’s not like it’s an outlandish suggestion for him to get to 201.
A fight between them is unlikely to happen for a myriad of reasons, but just the fact that Alvarez thinks along those lines is what should make him your boxing hero.
Alvarez dares to be great and because of that, he is great.
On Saturday, he’ll begin the journey toward a potential second undisputed title when he challenges Dmitry Bivol for the WBA light heavyweight title in the main event of a DAZN pay-per-view card at T-Mobile Arena.
In the history of boxing — well more than 100 years — there have been two fighters who held undisputed championships in two weight classes. Among the men, the only one to do it is Evander Holyfield, who was the undisputed cruiserweight champion and then went on to become the undisputed heavyweight champion.
Among the women, Claressa Shields did it at middleweight and then super welterweight.
Alvarez unified the IBF-WBA-WBC-WBO super middleweight belts last year when he stopped Caleb Plant. If he defeats Bivol, he’ll become the WBA light heavyweight champion and be only a fight away from repeating the undisputed trick.
Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr. will meet on June 18 in New York for the IBF-WBC-WBO light heavyweight belts. If he beats Bivol, Alvarez will fight Gennadiy Golovkin in September if all goes according to plan. A win there will put him in a fight with the Beterbiev-Smith winner for a second undisputed championship.
In a video on Matchroom Boxing’s YouTube channel, Alvarez was asked what separates him from other boxers. His answer was telling.
“I think it’s because I’m looking for the best,” Alvarez said. “Like I said before, the money is there for me. I don’t need to be looking for money. I’m just looking to make history. I want to make history and I want to fight the best champions. I love boxing. I love what I do and [taking theses] challenges makes me feel alive.”
Even accepting all that, seeking a fight against a guy like Usyk is mind-boggling and what separates him not only from his peers but from the vast majority of fighters in this sport’s rich history.
If he could win the light heavyweight title and go up one final time to defeat Usyk, it would be by far the greatest accomplishment in boxing history. Nothing else would even be close.
Alvarez is 5-8, which is the height most welterweights and super welterweights are around. Usyk is 6-3, and in his win over Anthony Joshua in September, he was 221 pounds. That’s 46 more than the most that Alvarez can be at Friday’s weigh-in.
Size alone doesn’t win fights. That’s been proven repeatedly over the years. But Usyk is a skilled, smart boxer in addition to being seven inches taller and nearly 50 pounds heavier than Alvarez. He’s not an out-of-shape blob with slow hands and a powerful punch. He’s a well-conditioned, highly technical boxer with good skills who, I might add, dominated an opponent the last time out who is 6-6 and weighed 240 pounds.
But let’s play this forward. Let’s assume Usyk defeats Joshua in their July 23 rematch and remains the IBF-WBA-WBO heavyweight champion. And for the sake of discussion, let’s say Alvarez beats Bivol on Saturday and then Golovkin and the Beterbiev-Smith winner in his next two bouts, an Usyk fight would be there to be made early next year.
That would mean that Alvarez would in a span of two years, from the time he won the WBA-WBC super middleweight titles on Dec. 19, 2020, until December of this year when he’d then get the undisputed light heavyweight title, he’d have unified two divisions and beaten Golovkin to boot.
Then, after that, he’d still be looking to challenge Usyk for the heavyweight belt.
If he beat Usyk then, the Hall of Fame should waive the waiting period and make him the first active boxer to be inducted into the Hall of Fame by unanimous consent. Who could argue against it?
Now, that’s a long way off and a lot has to go right for Alvarez to even get into position to face Usyk. Bivol is 19-0. Golovkin is one of the best fighters of his era and is 42-1-1 with 37 knockouts. Beterbiev right now is 17-0 with 17 knockouts. Smith is 28-3 with 22 knockouts.
And assuming Usyk defeats Joshua in the rematch in July, he’d then be 20-0.
Doing that would be a greater feat than Henry Armstrong holding championships at featherweight, lightweight and welterweight at a time when there were only eight weight classes. And it would surpass Manny Pacquiao’s mark of titles in eight weight classes, or any astounding record you could come up with.
Alvarez has already had a mind-boggling career. Doing that would put him in the history books and show the world the power of hard work, determination and belief in oneself.
It would by far be the greatest accomplishment in boxing history, with nothing else really close.
He’s made a career out of doing the unexpected, so while however unlikely he even gets an Usyk fight, doubt him at your own peril.