Canelo Alvarez signs with PBC: What the deal means for potential future opponents and title challengers

To boxing observers, it seems clear that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s skills have declined in recent outings. Despite that decline, Alvarez remains one of boxing’s elite talents and one of the few true superstars in the sport. This explains why news of Alvarez’s signing with Premier Boxing Champions on Thursday was so intriguing.

Alvarez had been working with Matchroom Boxing for six of his seven most recent bouts but has now switched promotional allegiances to PBC for a reported three-fight deal. It’s believed that the first fight of that deal will see Alvarez defend his status as undisputed super middleweight champion against WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo.

Alvarez vs. Charlo would be an intriguing fight with some backstory, given that Charlo was promoted to world champion from interim in 2019 when, rather than accept a mandatory title defense against Charlo, Alvarez accepted the WBC offer to be promoted to “franchise champion.”

While still a big fight, Alvarez vs. Charlo isn’t quite what it would have been a couple of years ago. That is partially because Alvarez looking somewhat diminished in a loss to Dmitry Bivol and wins over Gennadiy Golovkin and John Ryder and partially because Charlo recently crossed two years of inactivity.

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The true “big fight” fans are hoping may come out of Alvarez’s deal with PBC is a showdown with rising star David Benavidez. Benavidez is an undefeated, two-time former WBC super middleweight champion and current interim WBC champion. His March win over Caleb Plant was one of the best performances of his career and again established him as arguably the biggest threat to end Alvarez’s reign atop the division.

With Alvarez and Benavidez both under the PBC banner, one of the biggest hurdles to making any fight in boxing has been removed. Now, it just remains to be seen whether the fight can be made, especially with the risk it represents for both men.

Prior to Alvarez signing with PBC, he was reportedly offered in the neighborhood of $50 million to fight Benavidez and despite that huge offer, it seemed the Alvarez side was simply not interested, leading Benavidez to pursue a tremendous-on-paper bout with David Morrell for the fall.

Alvarez had been pursuing a rematch with Bivol, wanting to avenge his loss when he moved up to light heavyweight seeking a second title reign in the division.

The rematch negotiations broke down due to financial agreements as well as a very odd thing in boxing, both fighters wanting to give up the advantage of the fight happening in their weight class to instead chase the other man’s titles. Alvarez only wanted the fight if he was back at light heavyweight, trying to snatch Bivol’s 175-pound WBA title. Meanwhile, Bivol was only interested if the fight could be at super middleweight for Alvarez’s four world championships.

Alvarez also flirted with going after a cruiserweight world title, an idea he has floated before, by attempting to make a bout with WBC champ Badou Jack. The negotiations for that fight eventually collapsed when Alvarez attempted to impose a 180-pound weight limit for the cruiserweight bout, which Jack was not willing to do.

Despite the failure to make the Jack fight, Alvarez likely will continue to have the idea of winning a cruiserweight title to grab the claim of being a world champion across five weight classes, so that could become a focus in 2024.

Alvarez fights are always big business and he’s made incredible amounts of money in his career while building a true Hall of Fame legacy. He now enters the next, and possibly even final, phase of his career, with new options. It just remains to be seen what path he will take in putting the final marks on his resume.

Will it be Charlo and then Benavidez in one of the biggest and best fights in the sport? Will Alvarez work out a deal to try and avenge the Bivol loss? Or will Alvarez cling to the idea of winning a title in a fifth weight class with a trip to cruiserweight?

The decisions Alvarez makes during this deal with PBC will have a lot to say about where he thinks he is as a fighter late in his career and what goals he is pursuing as he heads toward retirement.

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