LIGHT-HEAVYWEIGHT champion Sergey Kovalev is the “clear front-runner” to face Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez next.
The fight would offer Canelo the opportunity to become a four-weight world champion, and follow in the footsteps of Mexican legends Julio Cesar Chavez, Marco Antonio Barrera, Jose Luis Castillo and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Canelo added the IBF title to his collection of WBA and WBO middleweight belts after outpointing Daniel Jacobs in May in Las Vegas.
The 28-year-old looked in line to face arch rival Gennady Golovkin in a trilogy bout this year, having drawn and then beaten the former middleweight king last year.
However, The Athletic report WBO light-heavyweight champion Kovalev is now the frontrunner to face Canelo in Autumn.
That would backdate the third Golovkin fight until May 2020, likely for Cinco de Mayo.
Canelo defeated Brit Rocky Fielding in December to claim the WBA’s understudy world title and in doing so cemented his name as a three-weight world champion.
But now promoter Oscar De La Hoya has revealed his golden boy fancies a crack at stepping up to a fourth division, 15lbs above his last fight at middleweight.
Callum Smith, who holds the WBA “super” world super-middleweight title was also a target for the Mexican, who earmarked Wembley as his preferred destination for the bout.
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However, Kovalev, who is still in talks to face his mandatory challenger, Londoner Anthony Yarde, is thought to be Canelo’s No1 target.
It could mean Yarde is given “step aside money” in order for Canelo to jump in line, with the Brit possibly given the winner.
The jump in weight could see Canelo implement a catchweight agreement, similar to his reign as WBC middleweight champion between 2015-2016, where he competed at 155lbs – instead of 160lbs.