Undisputed vs Undisputed: Canelo vs Charlo Full Card Preview
Boxing has had a little lull recently, but that ends tomorrow night with the first-ever showdown between two male undisputed champions in the four-belt era. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KOs) is looking to be the first undisputed champion in the four-belt era to make three successful defenses of the fully unified title. He will be up against fellow undisputed champion Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs), who is looking to secure a career-defining victory that would solidify him as an all-time great. Charlo is the most recent example of a fighter “daring to be great”. He is the undisputed ruler of the 154lb division and will be moving up two weight divisions to challenge Canelo for the undisputed 168lb crown.
When the fight was announced it came as a surprise to boxing fans. A Canelo vs. Charlo fight was always thought of as a bout between Canelo and Jermell’s twin brother Jermall Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs), the WBC middleweight champion and former 154lb titleholder. Jermall has been inactive since June of 2021 dealing with a personal matter, so Jermell stepped up to the plate and took the opportunity of a lifetime.
Both men were champions at 154lbs in 2016, but Canelo went on to move up to middleweight and eventually the super middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. Charlo has reigned supreme over the division since becoming champion. The two blemishes on his record, a controversial loss to Tony Harrison (29-4-1, 21 KOs) in 2018 and a draw to Brian Castano (17-1-2, 12 KOs) in 2021, were both avenged via emphatic knockout victory.
Canelo became the king of the middleweight division after defeating Gennadiy Golovkin (42-2-1, 37 KOs) in their 2018 rematch, and a few years later capped off his conquering of the super middleweight division with an eleventh-round knockout of Caleb Plant (22-1, 13 KOs) in 2021. Since that victory though, Canelo has shown signs of potential slippage and has not looked as sharp as he did during that 2018-2021 run. He was significantly outpointed by WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) in May of last year, and even in clear victories in his trilogy bout with Golovkin in September of 2022 and against John Ryder (32-6, 18 KOs) in May, his output faded as those fights progressed and failed to leave a lasting impression.
You have to wonder which version of Canelo we get come fight night. The Canelo that fully unified the 168lb division by knocking out Plant I would favor heavily to defeat Charlo. If we get the Canelo that we’ve seen in his last three outings then Charlo certainly has a path to victory to pulling off the upset. Canelo has claimed that nagging injuries led to his recent poor performances, but what if the wear and tear of 63 professional fights is starting to take its toll? Canelo has also shown stamina issues in his recent outings. Is that due to his inability to train properly because of injury? If it is a sign of a decline, then Charlo could come on strong at the end of the fight and separate himself, and win a decision.
Charlo isn’t going into this fight without questions either. Not only is he moving up two weight classes, but he is coming off of a broken hand and a sixteen-month layoff as well. If Jermell deals with any ring rust or has trouble carrying the extra 14 pounds, then he could be in for a long night. Two strengths of Charlo have been his endurance and punch resistance. But does the extra weight affect his gas tank? Is he able to take the shots from a strong super middleweight like Canelo the same way he did against guys at 154? Canelo is the significant favorite on the betting lines, and though I am picking him to get the job done I am not one of those people who is completely writing Charlo off and not giving him a shot. Whoever can answer more of the questions that I have about them most likely will come out on top.
The entire pay-per-view undercard is stacked with intriguing matchups. The co-main event is a junior middleweight matchup between top contenders Jesus Ramos (20-0, 16 KOs) and Erickson Lubin (25-2, 18 KOs). The twenty-two-year-old Ramos, along with Tim Tszyu (23-0, 17 KOs) are looked at to be the future of the 154lb division. Lubin was in the same spot as Ramos a few years ago, he was the 2016 Ring Magazine prospect of the year and it looked like he was going to eventually be a long-reigning world champion. Lubin went on to get knocked out by Jermell Charlo in the first round in 2017 and has not yet been able to live up to the expectations that were once set upon him. Is this going to be a breakout performance where Ramos announces himself as an elite 154lber? Or will Lubin, now the veteran, do what Charlo did to him years ago and use his experience to shock what is viewed to be the future star of the division? I lean towards Ramos getting the job done and making a major statement, but Lubin cannot be counted out and will be as dangerous as ever knowing that his back is against the wall and he needs to deliver.
The “interim” WBC welterweight title is also at stake this Saturday night, as former champions Yordenis Ugas (27-5, 12 KOs) and Mario Barrios (27-2, 18 KOs) battle to stay near the top of the talent-rich 147lb division. Ugas has not fought since losing his WBA title in a unification bout with Errol Spence Jr. (28-1, 22 KOs) last April. He suffered a broken orbital bone during that fight and there are questions about how much the 37-year-old has left coming off of a devastating injury like that. Mario Barrios is one of those fighters that you have to respect. The former WBA “regular” 140lb champion’s two defeats have come against Gervonta Davis (29-0, 27 KOs) and Keith Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs), so he is not afraid of taking risks and going against some of the best fighters we have today. He looked great in his last outing against Jovanie Santiago (14-3-1, 10 KOs) and it seems that teaming up with Ring Magazine 2022 Trainer of the Year Bob Santos and his son Joseph has been a good match. Can Ugas regain the form of the man who retired the legendary Manny Pacquiao? Will the youth and activity of Barrios be too much for the counterpunching of Ugas? Though Ugas is the favorite on the books, I give Barrios the edge in this one and see him establishing himself as a viable contender in the welterweight division. Whoever wins this fight would become the full WBC champion if undisputed champion Terence Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) does indeed vacate his titles and move up in weight.
The pay-per-view opener is a great middleweight matchup between two rising stars who have a lot of momentum. Elijah Garcia (15-0, 12 KOs) and Armando Resendiz (14-1, 10 KOs) have both burst onto the scene in 2023 and are looking to cap off the year with a statement. Garcia knocked out previously undefeated Amilcar Vidal Jr. (17-1, 13 KOs) in February and picked up a unanimous decision victory over the always-game Kevin Salgado (16-2-1, 11 KOs) on the Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia undercard in April. Resendiz came in as the underdog in his Showtime debut in March but proved that he belonged at this level when he stopped former unified champion Jarrett Hurd (24-2, 16 KOs). Whoever wins this fight will assert themselves as a legit contender at 160lbs, and the loser is still relevant and has a bright future ahead of them. Garcia to me has the higher ceiling out of the two, and I expect him to come out on top in a competitive and entertaining fight.
The non-PPV undercard also has several name fighters in action. Preceding the pay-per-view undercard will be a three-fight prelim card streaming on the Showtime Sports YouTube page. Undefeated heavyweight contender Frank Sanchez (22-0, 15 KOs) will fight Scott Alexander (17-5-2, 9 KOs) in a ten-round contest. Sanchez is a top-ten and fringe top-five heavyweight, so the way he has been moved since his impressive victory over Efe Ajagba (18-1, 13 KOs) has been puzzling. He needs to be in a fight that grabs our attention soon, otherwise, they run the risk of him falling out of the conversation in the heavyweight division which would be a shame because Sanchez has the boxing ability to compete with anyone.
Former WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk (19-1, 15 KOs) continues his comeback this weekend and will be in a ten-round bout against Isaac Rodrigues (28-4, 22 KOs). He is now 2-0 in his comeback since his defeat to Artur Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) in a 2019 unification bout and is working his way back towards another title. Gvozdyk is the heavy favorite to win, and I would like to see him in with WBA champ Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) next year if Bivol and Beterbiev are still not able to make an undisputed fight. Outside of the two champions, the talent pool at 175lbs is shallow and Gvozdyk is one of the only contenders that I would be interested in seeing challenge for a top spot.
2012 US Olympian Terrell Gausha (23-3-1, 12 KOs) is also in action on the YouTube prelim card. He is in an eight-round bout against KeAndrae Leatherwood (23-8-1, 13 KOs). This is a stay-busy type fight for Gausha, who is still a name in the sport and a viable opponent for anyone trying to make noise at 154 or 160. Gausha has only lost to the top fighters in the division (Erislandy Lara (29-3-3, 17 KOs), Erickson Lubin, and Tim Tszyu), and is coming off of an impressive knockout over Brandyn Lynch (12-2-1, 9 KOs) in March. Though he is now looked at as a “gatekeeper”, I still believe he has a lot left in the tank and can spoil the plans of any prospect who moves too quickly.
On the non-televised portion of the card is one of the most anticipated pro debuts in recent years. Eighteen-time amateur national champion Curmel Moton will be making his professional debut in a four-rounder against Ezequiel Flores (4-0, 3 KOs). Moton has drawn a lot of comparisons to Gervonta Davis, both due to fighting style and both being brought up under the Mayweather Promotions banner. Floyd believes the sky’s the limit for his young gun, and was even on record saying that he believes Moton is already talented enough to beat WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood (27-3, 16 KOs) so it will be interesting to see how fast they move the seventeen-year-old phenom.
Overall, this is one of the best cards from top to bottom that I have seen in years. The YouTube prelims will begin at 5:30 pm EST/2:30 PT, with the pay-per-view portion of the card starting at 8:00 pm EST/5:00 PT. The main event is estimated to take place around 11:00 pm00pm EST/8:00 PT.