Benavidez wants Berlanga, Canelo, Plant & Saunders

By Boxing News - 08/13/2020 - Comments

By Dan Ambrose: David Benavidez says he’s interested in fighting unbeaten knockout artist Edgar Berlanga, Canelo Alvarez, Caleb Plant, and Billy Joe Saunders soon.

WBC super-middleweight champion Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs) views the tough Puerto Rican American Berlanga (14-0, 14 KOs) as a worthy foe for the future. Still, first, he wants to see him in with tougher opposition to gauge where he’s at in terms of his talent.

The type of opponents that Berlanga’s promoters at Top Rank have been matching him against thus far in his four-year professional career haven’t been talented enough to show whether he’s as good as some boxing fans think he is.

What a lot of fans don’t realize is the 23-year-old Berlanga and Benavidez are both the same age. You can’t say that Benavidez has an age advantage of Berlanga, but he does have a lot more experience.

Benavidez will be defending his WBC super-middleweight title this Saturday night on August 15 against Roamer Alexis Angulo on Showtime Boxing. The Benavidez vs. Angulo (26-1, 22 KOs) fight will be taking place at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Benavidez wants Berlanga to fight better opposition

“I’ve watched him, and he’s very impressive, especially because he has 14, or is it 15 first-round knockouts,” said Benavidez on Berlanga. “That’s very impressive. I feel from a business point, that could be a huge fight.

Image: Benavidez wants Berlanga, Canelo, Plant & Saunders

“He’s Puerto Rican American. I’m Mexican American, so it could be a great fight. He’s a great fighter, and I’m a great fighter, that could be massive fireworks all night. I’m definitely all up for it.

“I want to see him in there first against a little harder opposition to see how he does because the fighters he’s been in there with hadn’t been tough opposition. I’m not taking anything away from him.

“There are a lot of great fights for me, and I want to take all of them. The reason I got into boxing was to let everyone know I’m the best in my weight division,” Benavidez said

It’ll be interesting to see if Benavidez will be able to take the heavy shots from Berlanga, who has shown extraordinary power since he turned pro in 2016.

The problem that could get in the way of Benavidez a Berlanga fight is the promotional and network side. Berlanga is with Top Rank and fights on ESPN. For his part, Benavidez is with Premier Boxing Champions, and his contests are shown on Showtime.

Top Rank will likely not have any interest in pitting Berlanga with Benavidez for at least three years at the minimum, and by that point, the two fighters may no longer be competing in the same weight class.

Benavidez will be moving up to 175 after he unifies the 168lb division, and he might not be able to come back down in weight to face Berlanga.

Canelo never gave Benavidez an offer

“Yeah, we’re still waiting for that [a fight against Canelo],” Benavidez said. “Out of everybody else received an offer, but I never received an offer [to fight]. Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders, and Caleb Plant, they all received an offer [to fight alvarez], but I didn’t.

Image: Benavidez wants Berlanga, Canelo, Plant & Saunders

“I don’t know what’s going on with that, but I’m going to be ready or anything. If the opportunity comes next year, two years from now, three years from now, I’ll be ready. It doesn’t really matter.

Time is going to be on my side. I’m going to be 24 this December. I’m still 23 right now, so time is on my side. I’ll be ready,” said Benavidez on Canelo.

Canelo (53-1-2, 36 KOs) is 30-years-old, so Golden Boy will need to think about making the fight between him and Benavidez soon. If they want Canelo to have a good chance of beating Benavidez, the fight between them needs to have sooner rather than later.

At 5’9″, Canelo isn’t tall for the 168-lb division. His advantage is speed, counter-punching, and power, but those things will disappear once he starts aging. If Golden Boy has any interest in making the Canelo-Benavidez fight, they’ll need to do it in the next three years if they want their fighter to have a good shot at winning.

Floyd Mayweather Jr caught Canelo at the early point in his career in beating him at 22. Had Floyd waited until Canelo was in his late 20s, he likely would be beaten. It might be a good idea for Canelo to face Benavidez right now with him being young at 23 rather than waiting until he gets better and then losing to him.

Is Benavidez too dangerous for Alvarez?

The fact that Canelo and Golden Boy Promotions don’t mention Benavidez’s name suggests that they’ll never make a fight with him. IBF 168-lb champion Caleb Plant was recently mentioned as someone that Golden Boy was interested in matching against Canelo, but not Benavidez.

Image: Benavidez wants Berlanga, Canelo, Plant & Saunders

David seems to be in the same category as Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol as a fighter that doesn’t hold interest as a potential opponent for Canelo. Is that because Benaivez is too dangerous for Alvarez? It’s possible.

Benavidez has these things going against him in terms of getting a fight against Canelo:

  • Youth – he’s not old like the guys Canelo has been fighting lately.
  • In his prime. The last four out of five opponents Canelo has faced were no longer in their prime
  • Fights on another network
  • Not hugely popular yet

The fact that Golden Boy is showing zero interest in letting Canelo face Benavidez is a big hint that they view him as too much of a threat to let him face the 6’2″ WBC 168lb champion.

It’s much easier for Golden Boy to match Canelo against weak-punching fighters like Billy Joe Saunders or mediocre guys like Rocky Fielding than putting him in with Benavidez and watching him potentially lose.

When Canelo recently moved up to 175 to go after a world title, picked over-the-hill fighter Sergey Kovalev rather than IBF/WBC champion Artur Beterbiev. Why? It’s pretty clear that Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) was deemed too dangerous for Alvarez. The 36-year-old Kovalev, who looked completely shot in his previous contest against Anthony Yarde, was perfect for Canelo.

Plant, Saunders & Alvarez on David’s target list

“I want to have all the belts,” Benavidez continued. “Let’s get it on. Caleb Plant, Billy Joe Saunders, or if we can get the king of the boxing world Canelo Alvarez.  I feel like I want to take these chances now, and I want to go in there, and I want to show people.

Image: Benavidez wants Berlanga, Canelo, Plant & Saunders

“I want to know for myself if I’m the best,” said Benavidez

IBF super-middleweight champion Caleb Plant (20-0, 12 KOs) fights on the same network as Benavidez, and they both share the same promoter. It’s a match that can be made as long as there’s interest from Caleb and the promoter’s side.

You can understand why PBC wouldn’t want to make this fight between them right now, as there are two revenue streams with them holding world titles.

If they match them against each other, then it narrows it down to one revenue stream. Who is to say if the loser of the Benavidez vs. Plant fight will be able to come back from the loss?

Like with Canelo, time isn’t on Plant’s side in terms of the Benavidez clash. Plant can’t afford to wait three to five years to face Benavidez if he wants t beat him because he’s going to be older by then, and he won’t have the ability to win at that point.

Unlike Benavidez, Plant’s game is based on his speed and reflexes, and those things will deteriorate over time.

If it’s just about money, then it makes sense for Plant to wait as long as possible to let the match against Benavidez marinate. However, that’s a risky thing for Plant to do because he could lose to someone in the meantime, and that would ruin the chances of him and Benavidez fighting for big money.

On fighting Plant behind closed doors

“It would be very unfortunate if I have to take a big fight with Caleb Plant without fans, but if that has to be, it has to be,” Benavidez said. “That’s the fight that really makes sense to me more than anything.

“I feel like that fight can get made next year. I don’t see why not. We both have the same promoters. It’s very clear that we want to fight each other. We got to give the fans what they want to see,” said Benavidez.

Image: Benavidez wants Berlanga, Canelo, Plant & Saunders

“This is what I want to happen next,” said Benavidez on a fight between him and Caleb Plant. “There can’t be four world champions in the super middleweight division all undefeated. We all got to take risks. We all think we’re the best, so let’s all right each other.  Why not?” said Benavidez.

Right now wouldn’t be a good time for Benavidez and Plant to fight during the pandemic. They need to wait until crowds come back in a year or two if they want to maximize the amount of revenue they can bring in for their unification match.

What we don’t know is when precisely fans will be allowed back in for fights because the pandemic could linger for years, especially if the world population chooses not to take the vaccine in 2021 or later.

If Plant was one of those guys that are unbeatable, then it would make sense to let the match with Benavidez marinate as long as possible.

Not ready for 175 yet

“I feel like that’s a great fight for the sport and for our promotional company PBC,” Benavidez said. “I don’t feel like I’m going to go up to 175 anytime soon. I’m comfortable here at 168.

This is where all my business is at, and I’m not going to leave until I get all these fights done. There are too many fights here at 168 for me to go up to 175. It doesn’t make any sense to me to go up to 175. Not yet.

Image: Benavidez wants Berlanga, Canelo, Plant & Saunders

“Maybe in the future, but not now. I want to be unified in the next two years if we can make all these fights. I want to be unified, and then go up to 175 and maybe unify up there.

“I’ve already accomplished a lot, but it doesn’t really feel like anything. I don’t know of any other fighter that has won two WBC titles at 22. I’ve already accomplished a lot, but to me, it doesn’t feel like anything yet. It’s only a little milestone compared to what I want to get to in my career. So I still have a lot of work to do,” said Benavidez.

Moving up to 175 right now would put Benavidez under intense pressure to face IBF/WBC light-heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev, and that would be a bad idea. The Russian fighter Beterbiev is too dangerous for Benavidez, and it go could badly for him.

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As we saw with Canelo, he went in the opposite direction of Beterbiev in picking the weakest link among the 175lb champions last November when he picked 36-year-old Kovalev. Beterbiev would have been pure trouble for Canelo, as he would be for Benavidez or any fighter moving up from 168 to challenge him for his two titles.