Canelo Alvarez is plotting a route to becoming a unified light-heavyweight champion by facing Joe Smith Jr before challenging Artur Beterbiev.
The Mexican star has recently become undisputed 168lb champion by conquering Caleb Plant to unify all four-belts in December.
His next move was expected to be a maiden cruiserweight tilt to challenge Ilunga Makabu for the WBC title after being given ‘special’ permission to make the fight.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has admitted indication from Alvarez’s team is that he will look to Smith Jr next before challenging Beterbiev later in the year.
“There haven’t been any real conversations [for Canelo vs Artur Beterbiev],” Arum told iFL TV. “I think they might wanna fight Joe Smith Jr next and then go to Beterbiev to unify the titles. They sort of hinted at that.”
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Alvarez has previously fought at light-heavyweight when he beat Sergey Kovalev with a late stoppage to to earn the WBO strap in 2019.
And earlier this year he came close to switching back to the division with light-heavyweight star Dmitry Bivol previously having held talks with the sport’s leading star.
The Mexican star has proved he can make a rapid rise through a division setting a precedent to other champions by fighting four times within a year.
A stoppage victory against Callum Smith began his journey before defending his title successfully against Avni Yildirim.
He later defeated Billy Joe Saunders to further unify the division before taking on Plant to become the first man in history to become undisputed at 168lbs.
His trainer Eddy Reynoso has planned for his charge to conquer another weight class at cruiserweight with the WBC approving his path.
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Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk has stated he would also be willing to make the switch to cruiserweight to face Alvarez in the future.
Another challenge could be David Benavidez at his current super-middleweight who has earned his status as a challenger with an undefeated career to date.
Former opponent to the Mexican Floyd Mayweather believes Alvarez is “ducking” the challenge of Benavidez with a targeted weight hike.
“Canelo a hell of a fighter,” Mayweather told reporters. “But my personal opinion is that he’s ducking Benavidez.
“You know, it’s just my personal opinion, and I’m allowed to speak my mind, that’s just what it is. “He’s going up to cruiserweight, and I’m not knocking him.
“But he’s going up to cruiserweight and [Makabu], he used to be at the Mayweather Boxing Gym, and the guys were really getting the best of him in the Mayweather Boxing Gym.
“So, if he’s going up to cruiserweight, if that’s the case, Benavidez is going to go up and beat that same guy – he could beat that same guy at 168.”