The last time Saul "Canelo" Alvarez fought in his home country of Mexico, he was a rising 21-year-old star making the third defense in his first reign as world champion. Alvarez returns to Mexico on Saturday as undisputed super middleweight champion to defend his titles against mandatory contender John Ryder.
It has been 11 years since Alvarez last fought in Mexico, delivering a five-round thrashing to Kermit Cintron to retain his WBC junior middleweight title. In the years since that fight, Alvarez has become one of boxing's elite pound-for-pound champions and biggest draws. He has won titles at junior middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight while chasing new challenges and compiling a resume that guarantees him a future spot in the Hall of Fame.
Two fights ago, Alvarez lost for just the second time in his career, returning to light heavyweight for the second time to face undefeated WBA champion Dmitry Bivol. Bivol was the better man that May 2022 night, outboxing Alvarez with a combination of technique and size. Alvarez bounced back with a win over his biggest rival, Gennady Golovkin, in their rubber match in September.
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Ryder is not the most exciting opponent for Alvarez but facing mandatories is part of a champion's job, and an undisputed champion has plenty of those obligations.
In November, Ryder defeated Zach Parker in five rounds to win the WBO interim title to cement himself as the next man up for Alvarez.
The bout with Alvarez will be Ryder's second shot at a world title. In November 2019, Ryder fought Callum Smith for the WBA super middleweight title. Smith took the decision after 12 rounds, though many media outlets felt Ryder had done enough to have deserved to have his hand raised.
Ryder has now rattled off four consecutive wins to earn the biggest fight of his career. He will enter the ring as a massive underdog but boxing is not short on historic upsets and Alvarez has looked vulnerable in his recent fights against Bivol and Golovkin.
The trilogy fight with Golovkin was a clear win for Alvarez, though the judges scored it close, but Alvarez was very much unlike his usual self, cautiously approaching the fight despite many feeling Golovkin badly faded entering the fight.
CBS Sports will also have live coverage of the fight with round-by-round scoring and blow-by-blow updates to keep you up to date throughout the night.
Let's take a closer look at the rest of the fight card with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before getting to a prediction and expert pick on the main event.
Alvarez vs. Ryder fight card, odds
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (c) -2000
John Ryder +1000
Undisputed super middleweight title
Julio Cesar Martinez (c) -1400
Ronal Batista +800
WBC flyweight title
Gabriel Gollaz Valenzuela -150
Steve Spark +125
It's fun to think about the possibility for big upsets in boxing, but Ryder winning feels especially unlikely, even against a potentially faded version of Alvarez. This is a homecoming for Alvarez and Ryder doesn't present the same level of danger as Golovkin, even a 40-year-old Golovkin. That means Alvarez won't have to hold back and play it safe the same way he did in his most recent fight.
Ryder did do a good job against Smith, pushing the then-champion around a bit even as the smaller man. Alvarez will be the slightly shorter man against Ryder, but he's very strong and is able to apply his strength as well as almost anyone in the game.
Ryder won't be able to muscle Alvarez around, nor will he be the more dangerous puncher, nor will he be the better technical boxer. If there's a path to Ryder's victory that doesn't involve landing a perfect punch or Alvarez crumbling completely, I simply can't see it. Expect Alvarez to roll in front of a fired-up Mexican crowd. Pick: Alvarez via KO5
Who wins John Ryder vs. Canelo Alvarez? And which prop is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see Peter Kahn's best bets for Saturday, all from the boxing specialist who has netted his followers a profit of more than $4,000, and find out.