The last time Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fought in his native Mexico, he was a rising 21-year-old star making the third defence of his maiden world title reign. On Saturday, Alvarez will return to Mexico as the undisputed super middleweight champion to defend his championships against mandatory challenger John Ryder.
Alvarez last fought in Mexico 11 years ago, hammering Kermit Cintron in five rounds to retain his WBC junior middleweight belt. In the years since that fight, Alvarez has established himself as one of boxing’s top pound-for-pound fighters and greatest attractions. He has won championships at junior middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight while pursuing new challenges and building a career that ensures him a future Hall of Fame position.
Alvarez lost for the second time in his career two bouts ago, when he returned to light heavyweight for the second time to challenge unbeaten WBA champion Dmitry Bivol. That May 2022 night, Bivol was the superior man, outboxing Alvarez with a mix of skill and size. In September, Alvarez defeated his toughest adversary, Gennady Golovkin, in their rubber bout.
Ryder is not the most thrilling opponent for Alvarez, but confronting mandates is part of the job of a champion, and an undisputed champion has many of them.
Ryder overcame Zach Parker in five rounds in November to earn the WBO interim championship and solidify himself as Alvarez’s next opponent.
Ryder’s fight with Alvarez will be his second attempt at a world championship. Ryder challenged Callum Smith for the WBA super middleweight championship in November 2019. Smith made the decision after 12 rounds, despite the fact that many media sources thought Ryder had done enough to merit to raise his hand.
Ryder has now won four straight fights to earn the biggest fight of his career. He will enter the arena as a huge underdog, but boxing is full of historic shocks, and Alvarez has appeared vulnerable in previous battles against Bivol and Golovkin.
The trilogy bout with Golovkin was a clear victory for Alvarez, though the judges scored it close, but Alvarez was completely different from his normal self, approaching the battle carefully despite many believing Golovkin was very fatigued entering the fight.
Before we get to a prediction and expert selection on the main event, let’s take a closer look at the remainder of the fight card and the current odds from Caesars Sportsbook.
It’s exciting to think about massive surprises in boxing, but Ryder winning seems extremely implausible, even against a somewhat fading Alvarez. This is Alvarez’s homecoming fight, and Ryder does not pose the same degree of threat as Golovkin, even a 40-year-old Golovkin. That means Alvarez will no longer have to hold back and play it safe as he did in his most recent bout.
Ryder fared well against Smith, moving the then-champion about a little despite being the smaller guy. Alvarez will be the somewhat shorter guy versus Ryder, but he’s quite powerful and can use his muscle as well as practically anybody in the game.
Ryder will not be able to bully Alvarez, nor will he be the more dangerous puncher or the superior technical boxer. I can’t see a way for Ryder to win that doesn’t necessitate hitting a beautiful punch or Alvarez collapsing totally.