Tim Bradley: Canelo Alvarez not fighting the best

By Boxing News - 02/23/2021 - Comments

By Sean Jones: Tim Bradley has very little good to say about Canelo Alvarez’s fight this Saturday night against Avni Yildirim at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.

Bradley is noticing what many people have been observing about Canelo, which is that he’s no longer facing the best since his fight against Gennady Golovkin in 2018.

Since the second fight with GGG, Canelo has backed away entirely from taking risky fights, choosing instead to set a superficial goal of unifying the 168lb division, which currently has mediocre champions holding belts.

Bradley questions why Canelo not fighting these guys

  • Jermall Charlo
  • David Benavidez

For some reason, Canelo has chosen not to face them, and the only thing you can think of is they’re too dangerous for him.

Image: Tim Bradley: Canelo Alvarez not fighting the best

Former two-division world champion Bradley views this fight as a “stay-busy” one for Canelo (54-1-2, 36 KOs), and he says Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) is a “punching bag” who has lost every time he’s stepped up against better opposition during his career.

Canelo collecting belts

What Bradley has noticed about Canelo recently is that he’s winning world titles, but he’s no longer facing the best. He’s just going after belts against vulnerable champions in Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders, and Caleb Plant. Those are “belt-holders,” but not the best.

It’s nothing but superficial fights for Canelo, collecting titles against weak champions with the idea that the wins will somehow validate him as a top fighter with the casuals.

It would mean a lot more for Canelo to win belts if he were winning them by beating Benavidez, Jermall, Demetrius Andrade, Dimitry Bivol, or Artur Beterbiev. Bradley wouldn’t be able to argue that Canelo isn’t fighting the best if he were to take on those fighters for belts, but he’s not doing that.

Canelo is going after weaker champions and just collecting titles for the sake of connecting them.

If Canelo has the idea in his head that if he wins world titles against anyone, the casual boxing fans, who have scant knowledge about the sport, will be impressed. But if that’s what Canelo is doing in choosing not to fight the best, it might work for him.

He’ll impress the casuals, but the hardcore boxing fans won’t be won over. Also, Canelo’s legacy will suffer because he won’t have a lot of great fights that fans will remember.

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Beating up guys like Callum Smith, Rocky Fielding, Sergey Kovalev, and Yildirim in one-sided fights that lack drama isn’t going to help build Canelo’s legacy. For him to do that, he needs to take an actual risk by fighting Benavidez, Golovkin, Beterbiev, Bivol, Charo, and Andrade.

Before Canelo came up with the idea of unifying the 168-lb division, he moved up briefly to 175 to pick off what many boxing fans viewed as the weakest link of the champions in Sergey Kovalev to take his WBO title.

Rather than sticking around to face the talented champions, the ones that knowledgable fans rate highly in Artur Beterbiev and Dimitry Bivol, Canelo fled the division, returning to 168 to go after the flawed belt-holder, Callum Smith.

Bradley: Canelo won’t fight Benavidez

“The only problem I have with Alvarez: He’s not fighting the best guys right now,” said Bradley to ESPN. “He’s winning these belts, challenging guys in different weight classes.

You have a guy at 168 in [David] Benavidez who wants all of the smoke, but Canelo won’t fight him. You have a guy in Jermall Charlo who would probably be willing to go up to fight Canelo,” said Bradley.

Interestingly, Canelo showed no desire to unify the 168lb division when the unbeaten David Benavidez (23-0, 20 KOs) held the WBC super middleweight title.

But as soon as Benavidez lost his WBC title in August 2020 after failing to make weight for his title defense against Roamer Alexis Angulo, Canelo decided to unify the division.

Is it just a coincidence that Canelo chose to become the undisputed champion at 168 after Benavidez was out of the picture? Did he not want any part of fighting the talented former champion?

Image: Tim Bradley: Canelo Alvarez not fighting the best

“There’s always talk about how these guys don’t really want the fight, or how the money isn’t right, or how they haven’t fought enough “names” to be worthy of the shot, but come on,” Bradley said about how quality fighters are filtered out as potential Canelo opponents.

“Stop it. It’s just a way to avoid a fighter and a fight you don’t want,” said Bradley about Canelo avoiding the best.

Bradley brings up some good points about the match-making that is being done for Canelo right now. He’s clearly not fighting the best unless you think Yildirim, Caleb Plant, and Billy Joe Saunders are the best.

You can argue that Benavidez, Jermall Charlo, and Demetrius Andrade would beat all three of those guys on the same night. Plant has good boxing skills but no power for the 168-lb division. He punches more like a 154-pounder than a super middleweight.

Saunders has no power either, and he’s looked poor since he’s moved up from the 160-lb division in 2019. Also, Saunders’ opposition since moving up to 168 has pedestrian level with him beating 38-year-old Martin Murray, Marcelo Esteban Coceres, and Shefat Isufi.

Was it an accident that Saunders was matched against those lesser fighters, or was this a strategic move by his promoters to make sure that he didn’t get beaten?

Yildirim has no chance

Bradley sees Canelo, 30, having no problems beating Yildirim this Saturday in their headliner fight on DAZN. In fact, Bradley says Canelo should get Yildirim ut of there by no later than the sixth round.

He notes that Yildirim lost his last fight against Anthony Dirrell two years ago, and he was destroyed by Chris Eubank Jr in three rounds in 2017. Who knows what the World Boxing Council thought when they made Yildirim mandatory for Canelo. It’s a move by the WBC that makes little sense.

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Bradley wants to know why Benavidez isn’t being given the shot by the WBC to “try to win it back instead” of Yildirim.

You can argue that if the WBC made Benavidez the mandatory challenger, Canelo would vacate the title or look for a way to circumvent his mandated defense rather than face him and potentially lose.