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WBC to decide Yildirim’s opponent from Canelo, Benavidez, Callum & Abdugofurov for vacant 168 title

Callum Smith Canelo Alvarez David Benavidez

By Sean Jones: The WBC will be meeting on Tuesday to decide an opponent to fight Avni Yildirim for the vacant WBC 168-pound title from requested opponents Canelo Alvarez, Callum Smith, David Benavidez, and Azizbek Abdugofurov.

The speculation is high that the World Boxing Council will pick Canelo Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) as the one for Yildirim to fight for the vacant WBC super-middleweight title.

Canelo likely to be picked

It’s no secret that Canelo, 30, is well-liked by WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, who made him the Franchise champion at 160 in 2019 when he had the dangerous Jermall Charlo breathing down his throat as his mandatory.

Canelo still doesn’t have an opponent for his next fight in 2020 on DAZN, and the WBC would be doing him a favor if they selected him to face Yildirim for their 168lb title.

The only problem with Canelo fighting for the WBC title is what he’d do with it if he wins the belt. Would Canelo be willing to face David Benavidez if he captured the title or would ask the WBC to make him Franchise champion at 168 so that he can swerve the fight like some boxing fans felt that he did in the case of Charlo at 160?

All of those fighters have thrown their names into the hat for the World Boxing Council to decide.

Callum Smith Canelo Alvarez David Benavidez

What’s a bit odd is that Benavidez (23-0, 20 KOs) putting his own name among the list, as he was stripped of his the WBC super-middleweight title last Friday when he weighed in almost three pounds over the 168lb limit at 170 3/4 pounds at the weigh-in for his fight against #15 WBC fringe contender Roamer Alexis Angulo.

Although Benavidez won the fight by a 10th round stoppage, he wasn’t eligible to win back his stripped WBC super-middleweight belt.

Benavidez makes no sense

If the WBC were to allow Benavidez to fight for his stripped title immediately, it would make a mockery of the sport. How does a champion get an immediate shot at their stripped title in their next title? If it were that easy, it would take away the incentive for winners to make weight in the first place.

Like a lot of people, Steve Kim of ESPN doubts the WBC will pick Benavidez due to the amount of weight that he put back on after rehydrating for his contest against Roamer Alexis Angulo on Showtime Boxing at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.

According to @BarbosBox at ESPN Knockout, Benavidez rehydrated to 195 pounds. If true, that’s a tremendous amount of weight even from the 170 3/4 pounds that he weighed in at for the Angulo match.

That’s 25 pounds of rehydrated water weight and a clear signal that Benavidez needs to be fighting at light heavyweight. Benavidez might be too heavy even for the 175lb division.

If Benavidez is rehydrating to 195, then he needs to be fighting at cruiserweight against the likes of Mairis Briedis and Yunier Dorticos.

“Spoke to WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, says a decision will be made on who faces Avni Yildirim for the now vacant 168-pound title tomorrow.

I don’t think it will be Benavidez. Sulaiman was concerned about how much weight he put on after the weigh-in this past weekend #boxing,” said @SteveESPNKim.

Callum Smith Canelo Alvarez David Benavidez

Why is Yildirim fighting for the WBC belt?

In another oddity, ‘Mr. Robot’ Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) is still the WBC mandatory for the 168lb title despite losing his last fight to Anthony Dirrell by a 10th round technical decision on February 23, 2019, in Minneapolis.

Yildirim, who hasn’t fought since that loss, appealed to the WBC to be reinstated as the mandatory due to Dirrell’s cut from a clash of heads causing the contest to be stopped after the 10th round.

Avni Yildirim might have won the match if it had gone the full 12 rounds. Of course, it didn’t help Dirrell that he was fighting with a severe cut, and he was struggling from the time the cut opened in the 7th.

Before the cut occurred, Dirrell was dominating the slow-handed Yildirim in the same way that Chris Eubank Jr did in his fight against the Turkish fighter in 2017. Eubank Jr stopped Yildirim in the third round in the World Boxing Super Series tournament on October 7 in Stuttgart, Germany.

Would Canelo sit on the WBC title?

Canelo hasn’t done anything with his WBA ‘regular’ super-middleweight title since beating paper champion Rocky Fielding in December 2019. Since winning the WBA belt from Fielding, Canelo has yet to make any titled defenses of the belt.

Callum Smith Canelo Alvarez David Benavidez

In other words, Canelo is holding onto the belt and sitting on it like it’s an egg while the contenders in the World Boxing Association’s top 15 at 168 age, waiting for a title shot from the Mexican star. What good is a champion that doesn’t defend the belt for years?

The WBC might as well give Canelo the Franchise title at super middleweight and not waste people’s time having him fight for the vacant 168lb strap.

Why does a sanctioning body not strip Canelo of his WBA 168lb title if he’s not going to defend it? It’s a good question, and you’ve got to feel sorry for all the contenders in the WBA’s top 15 at 168. I

n Canelo’s two fights since winning the WBA belt from Fielding, he’s beaten Danny Jacobs at 168 and then moved up to 175 and beaten WBO champion Sergey Kovalev.

The problem with Canelo getting his hands on the WBC’s super middleweight title, which he probably would win with ease against Yildirim, is he would likely sit on the strap without defending it for years. What good is a champion that doesn’t defend his title year after year?

Azizbek Abdugofurov a good option

Of the candidates vying to fight Yildirim for the vacant WBC belt, only Azizbek Abdugofurov (13-0, 5 KOs) makes sense. Callum Smith already holds the WBA Super World 168lb title, and if he wins the WBC title, he’ll be trying to juggle two titles, and that would slow things up dramatically for the contenders.

Smith’s boxing fans point out that he holds the WBC Diamond title from having won it last year in stopping Hassan N’Dam in the third round in June 2019, but that belt is more an honorary type of trophy and not a real-world title.

It’s a belt that the WBC gives out for essential fights, which is why it seems incredibly bizarre that they had it up for grabs for Callum’s contest against N’Dam. Did the WBC have the Diamond title on the line for the Callum vs. N’Dam fight for sanctioning fees purpose?

Whatever the reason, Callum doesn’t need to be fighting for the vacant WBA 168lb title in this writer’s view because he already has the WBA belt. We’re still waiting for Callum to fight his first talented contender since winning the belt from an injured George Groves in September 2018.

In Callum’s two title defenses of his WBA strap, he’s beaten N’Dam and John Ryder. Those two are more pedestrian level contenders rather than talented guys at 168.

A talented contender at super middleweight would be someone like Edgar Berlanga. Danny Jacobs, David Morrell, or Abdugofurov. I rate Berlanga, Caleb Plant, and Morrell as the three top super middleweights now that Benavidez has outgrown the division. Jacobs is reportedly interested in fighting journeyman Gabriel Rosado next, so he’s not worth mentioning as a potential option.


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