Saul “Canelo” Alvarez intends to return to middleweight, but for now he’s rolling the dice by jumping up two weight classes and challenging WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev on November 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, live on DAZN.
Here’s a look at five middleweights who worked their way up to a light heavyweight title. Will Canelo join them?
Alvarez doesn’t have to look far to draw inspiration for this upcoming bout. In fact, he could just look over his shoulder. That’s because boxing legend and Golden Boy Promotions partner Bernard Hopkins made the move up from undisputed middleweight champion to light heavyweight champ.
After a long reign at 160 pounds, which included 20 consecutive middleweight title defenses, Hopkins dared to be even greater by moving up to light heavyweight in June 2006. It was then that he scored a unanimous decision over Antonio Tarver to capture the IBO and The Ring light heavyweight titles. Even more amazing was the fact that Hopkins defeated Jean Pascal by unanimous decision about five years later to become the WBC, The Ring and lineal light heavyweight champ, making him the oldest world champ in boxing history at 46.
ROY JONES JR.
In his prime, Roy Jones Jr. was one of boxing’s best showmen, with otherworldly skills that would often leave pundits and fans alike in awe. After becoming a middleweight world champion in May 1993 by defeating Bernard Hopkins, Jones went on to leave his footprint as a super middleweight world champ as well.
Jones would seize the then-vacant WBC interim light heavyweight title in November 1996 against Mike McCallum, setting up a long reign at 175 pounds. Remarkably, Jones not only became an undisputed ruler of the light heavyweight division, but he also briefly hit pause on his reign to defeat John Ruiz in March 2003 and become the WBA world heavyweight champion as well, making him a four-division world champ.
“SUGAR” RAY LEONARD
What’s there to say about “Sugar” Ray Leonard’s greatness that hasn’t been said? Regarded by many as one of the best boxers — if not the best boxer — to ever take part in the sweet science, Leonard put a beating on the Hall of Fame likes of Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran in an action-packed career that saw him claim world titles in five different weight classes.
What makes the latter all the more special is the fact that Leonard became the WBC light heavyweight champion and the inaugural WBC super middleweight titleholder on the same night of Nov. 7, 1988, when he scored a ninth-round TKO of Donny Lalonde. That was after his runs through the welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight divisions.
“The Hitman” couldn’t solve the punching problems that “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler presented him in the ring, but he was able to successfully climb from middleweight to light heavyweight. Hearns delivered a 10th-round TKO of British boxer Dennis Andries to take the WBC light heavyweight strap in March 1987 in Detroit.
Boxing’s first three-division world champion, Bob Fitzsimmons accomplished middleweight notoriety during a torrid five-year run as lineal champion, before jumping all the way up to heavyweight and taking that lineal strap, too, in March 1897. Years later in November 1903, Fitzsimmons would work his way down and claim the lineal light heavyweight title as well. An atypical path, but one that still paid dividends.
Source: Mark Lelinwalla