Add Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr. to the list of names Canelo Alvarez could potentially face in 2022.
Canelo, who recently became the undisputed super-middleweight champion, requested to face WBC Cruiserweight Champion Ilunga Makabu next year. Makabu, however, may be forced into a fight with mandatory challenger Thabiso Mchunu. If that is the case, Top Rank's Bob Arum believes Canelo will fight either WBC and IBF Light-Heavyweight Champion Artur Beterbiev or WBO Light-Heavyweight Champion Joe Smith Jr.
"Eddy Reynoso is a great trainer and is very close to Canelo," Arum told Sky Sports. "I know Canelo pretty well, since he was a young man."He has expressed interest to me about fighting Beterbiev or Joe Smith Jr. I would look forward to May or September, the two dates that Canelo likes to fight, that he would fight one of those light-heavyweights."
The 31-year-old Canelo made his boxing debut in 2005. After suffering the first loss of his career against Floyd Mayweather in 2013, Canelo has gone 15-0-1. It recently took him eleven months to become the undisputed super-middleweight champion, beating Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders, and Caleb Plant. The Plant fight at the beginning of November ended via TKO.
Canelo has already held light-heavyweight gold, beating Sergey Kovalev for the WBO title in 2019.
A gold medalist in the European and World Championships, Beterbiev made his boxing debut in 2013. He won the IBF Light-Heavyweight Title against Enrico Kolling in 2017 and has defended it four times. Beterbiev won the WBC Light-Heavyweight Title in 2019 against Oleksandr Gvozdyk. The 36-year-old last fought in March, beating Adam Deines.
Beterbiev has won all sixteen of his fights via some form of knockout. He is set to defend his titles against Marcus Browne on December 17 from inside the Bell Centre in Montreal. Arum thinks Beterbiev would be a tough fight for Canelo but also believes the latter is up for the challenge.
"Canelo is a risk-taker and that makes him so popular," Arum went on to say. "It would be a massive fight because the betting action would go both ways. Some will way Beterbiev is too big and powerful. Others will say Canelo is special and can handle everybody. It is one of the biggest fights in boxing."
Smith made his pro debut in 2009. A WBC Intercontinental Light-Heavyweight Champion, Smith won the WBO-NABO Light-Heavyweight Title against Jesse Hart in 2020. He is currently on a three-fight winning streak, recently beating Maxim Vlasov for the WBO Light-Heavyweight Title.
The 32-year-old Smith is set to defend his WBO title against Callum Johnson on January 15 from inside the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.