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Gordon: Canelo Alvarez still elite, but 2 big challenges await

The stool in the blue corner on which Canelo Alvarez was supposed to sit between the rounds of his megafight against Jermell Charlo was deemed unnecessary by the Mexican superstar.

He stood instead while receiving instruction from trainer Eddy Reynoso — readying for each ensuing three-minute massacre.

The fatigue he felt in previous fights had been fortified into focus, the glory he’s long known burnished Saturday at Charlo’s expense inside T-Mobile Arena.

“I’m so happy because I did what I supposed to do,” he said at the postfight press conference, having traded his trunks for designer pajamas, with his wife, Fernanda, by his left side, gently caressing his shoulder.

Added Alvarez: “This is Canelo. … I’m back. Finally, I’m back. I feel confident right now. I feel great. … Now, I’m back.”

In his conquering of Charlo, Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 knockouts) retained his standing among the pound-for-pound elite and his undisputed super middleweight championship following his third consecutive defense. He didn’t show fatigue at all during the fight, remaining spry and active while chipping away at Charlo’s rib cage — and with it his competitive spirit — in a one-sided thrashing of the former undisputed junior middleweight champion.

Charlo, per WBO ruling, forfeits that portion of his unified title to former mandatory challenger Tim Tszyu, whom he bypassed for a more lucrative bout with Alvarez.

“I would have loved to do more, but you have in front of you a great fighter,” Alvarez added. “He (did) his job. He moved a lot. But I’m happy (with) what I did. I’m happy, because I feel great.”

Canelo-Crawford?

With Charlo (35-2-1, 19 KOs) behind him, Alvarez has two fights remaining on his deal with Premier Boxing Champions and two obvious opponents who should actually test his greatness: undisputed welterweight champion and pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford and undefeated former two-time super middleweight champion David Benavidez. They bring with their skills a commercial viability that could maximize Alvarez’s profitability.

Crawford watched Alvarez outclass Charlo, a 33-year-old Houstonian, from a ringside seat and continued his very public campaign to fight the 33-year-old, four-division champion.

Crawford would fare far better against Alvarez than Charlo, whom he told on X, “you went out sad. Didn’t even try to win, all you did was try to survive. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Like Charlo, Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) would have to elevate in weight and face a far more skillful and powerful fighter than he’s ever battled before. But he’s the same height as Alvarez and an equally motivated competitor, armed with an amorphous switch-hitting style, and more importantly the tactical acumen required to compensate for the differences in strength.

Crawford, a 36-year-old from Omaha, Nebraska, is first contractually obligated to a rematch with Errol Spence Jr. that hasn’t yet been finalized or announced, leaving theoretical leeway in negotiations should a fight with Alvarez become available.

For what it’s worth, Alvarez said of Crawford, “I always say if a fight makes sense, why not, but he’s not in the plan. If it makes sense maybe. I don’t know right now.”

Perhaps the risk of a loss isn’t worth the reward of a victory that his 21-pound fighting advantage suggests he should easily secure.

Canelo-Benavidez?

But Benavidez (27-0, 23 KOs) at this point is unavoidable as a natural super middleweight and the WBC’s mandatory challenger. The Phoenix native dubbed the “Mexican Monster” by Mike Tyson is a long overdue opponent for Alvarez, who cedes six inches of height and six years of youth in that prospective matchup.

Benavidez is a pressuring, voluminous power-puncher, and Alvarez is a calculating counterpuncher with a chin carved of granite and — as of Saturday — a youthful champion’s charm.

Added Alvarez: “I feel good. I feel great. I feel in my prime. I feel fresh. I’m ready.”

Cheers until Cinco de Mayo.

Contact Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on X.

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