By Dan Ambrose: Mikey Garcia liked what he saw from Canelo Alvarez with his victory over Callum Smith last week, but he thinks the Mexican star will have a hard fight when he faces David Benavides in 2022 or whenever.
Mikey (40-1, 30 KOs) says the former WBC super middleweight champion Benavidez (23-0, 20 KOs) won’t let Canelo “bully” him around the rin, and he sees that as a close fight.
What surprised the former four-division world champion Mikey, 33, is how the 6’3″ Callum Smith (27-1, 19 KOs) gave up his height and let the shorter fighter Canelo come inside all night.
Mikey noted that Smith, 31, backed up against the ropes a lot and would just cover-up.
Canelo said Callum Smith was #1 at 168
With the way Canelo and the promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing had built Callum Smith up before the fight, saying that he was the “#1 fighter at 168,” he didn’t show that kind of ability.
Smith fought more like a bottom feeder-level super middleweight, which you can argue is what he is. For the boxing fans that had watched Callum’s last fight against John Ryder, they knew that he wasn’t the #1 fighter in the super middleweight division the way Canelo and Hearn were saying about him.
Callum was walked down by the slow, weak, and small Ryder and battered on the inside for 12 rounds. Ryder should have won that fight, but he found himself on the receiving end of a hometown decision.
In hindsight, it would have been better for the fans had the judges gotten it right, as a fight between Canelo and Ryder would have been a lot more interesting to watch than the boring Canelo – Smith mismatch.
The boxing public bought into what Canelo and Hearn were saying about Smith, and they ended up sadly disappointed when they saw how unexceptional he was.
Alvarez to face Avni Yildirim on Feb.27th
Canelo is now planning to defend the WBA and WBC super middleweight titles he won against Smith in early next year on February 27th against his WBC mandatory Avni Yildirim in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Canelo and Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) will be headlining on DAZN. It’ll be interesting to hear what Canelo and Hearn say about Yildirim to build him so that boxing fans will want to watch the fight.
Ideally, it would be better for Canelo to embellish Yildirim’s talent too much, as the boxing fans will get wary of him if he keeps telling them that he’s facing the super talent.
It’s better if Canelo tells it like it is without making it seem like he’s a great fighter just because he’s facing him. As long as Canelo and Hearn don’t go overboard pumping up Yildirim’s credentials, it won’t be that bad.
Canelo vs. Yildirim is a terrible mismatch, but as long the fans know that’s not meant to be competitive, they won’t be as upset afterward.
Unfortunately, the World Boxing Council kept the 29-year-old Yildirim mandatory with their organization at 168 despite his loss to Anthony Dirrell 22 months ago in February 2019.
Why did the WBC choose to keep Yldirim as mandatory with their organization, given his loss to Dirrell, as well as his inactivity? That alone is troubling.
Yildirim’s last two wins were against 46-year-old Lolenga Mock and Jose Antonio Rodriguez Silvencia (3-31-3) in 2018. How does the WBC keep Yildirim as their mandatory with his low-level wins?
Canelo may not realize it, but he looks bad with his decision to defend the WBC title against Yildirim. He’d be better off vacating the WBC title and focusing on facing quality opposition that boxing fans want to see him fight.
Canelo impressed Mikey with a win over Smith
“He did really well,” said Mikey Garcia to Fighthype on Canelo Alvarez’s performance against Callum Smith.
“Yeah, he went the distance. I kind of figured before that Callum Smith would try and be defensive and fight defensive.
“He didn’t use his height and reach as much as he should have maybe, which allowed Canelo to get on the inside more.
“But whenever Smith was towards the ropes and in the corner, all he did was defend and kind of guard himself up, which Canelo is strong too and maybe that’s why.
“Canelo did good, he impressed a lot. Cutting off the ring, getting on the inside, saying low and unloading some heavy shots to Smith’s body and head. It was a good performance from Canelo,” said Mikey Garcia.
Anyone would have impressed Mikey if they had fought Callum Smith because that kind looked like a domestic level super middleweight. Canelo never got out of first great against Smith because he didn’t have to.
The tall Brit didn’t use his height or reach by jabbing the 5’8″ Canelo, and he failed to keep the action in the center of the ring.
That was the strangest part. Before the fight, Smith had spoken about not wanting t fight with his back against the ropes, and yet that’s precisely what he did the entire 12-round fight.
The real question is, why did the 6’3″ Smith give away his height and reach against Canelo when he knew better?
Mikey: Benavidez won’t let Canelo bully him
“I don’t think Benavidez is going to let Canelo bully him around either,” said Mikey when asked about how former WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez would do against Canelo.
“Benavidez is a gangster, but it’s not going to be an easy fight for him either. It’s going to be a very close fight. Benavidez is strong, fast, confident, young.
“He might lack a little experience, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have enough tools to win,” Mikey continued about Benavidez. “Experience isn’t the only thing that’s required. That’s going to be a good fight.
“I don’t know if Canelo is going to be fighting him soon or any time or not. I think he’ll fight other guys.
‘It can probably happen in the next year. A year or a little over a year, not right away. Not this upcoming year. Not 2021, the year after, 2022,” said Mikey Garcia.
Benavidez will be a huge upgrade for Canelo over Callum Smith, but unfortunately, we don’t know when this fight will happen. Canelo will fight three times in 2021, but Benavidez isn’t expected to get a shot against him.
While Mikey believes Benavidez has a good shot at getting a fight against Canelo in 2022, that’s just a guess on his part. Canelo has ignored Benavidez for years, so why all of a sudden will he pay attention to him?
Benavidez said it himself that Canelo wanted no part of fighting him when he held the WBC 168-lb division.
It was only after he was stripped of his belt in 2020 for failing to make weight for his title defense against Roamer Alexis Angulo that Canelo showed interest in wanting to fight for the WBC belt.