WBC approves David Benavidez to fight for interim 168-lb title

By Sean Jones: WBC board of governors have approved David Benavidez to fight for the World Boxing Council interim super middleweight title now that champion Canelo Alvarez won’t be free to defend his belt.

The WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman didn’t say who Benavidez will face for the interim 168-lb title. Still, it’s likely to be one of these top ten counters in their sanctioning bodies’ rankings:

2. David Lemieux
3. Daniel Jacobs
4. Billy Joe Saunders
5. Anthony Dirrell
6. Jesse Hart
7. Vladimir Sishkin
8. Pavel Silyagin
9. Gabriel Rosado
10. Fedor Chudinov

It won’t be surprising if Lemieux, Jacobs, and Saunders all turn down the chance to fight Benavidez for the interim WBC super middleweight title, knowing what they’d be up against in taking on a menacing puncher like him.

Benavidez should move to 175

Canelo will likely vacate the WBC 168-lb title at some point soon rather than defending it against Benavidez. The chances of Canelo ever returning to 168 are slim, which is why Benavidez should move up to 175 and snatch one of the belts to use it as bait for Canelo.

Benavidez has got to set a trap for Canelo by getting his hands on one of the 175-lb belts. Forget the idea of fighting for the interim WBC 168-lb belt because that title is useless now that Canelo is done with the division.

It’s not even worth it for Benavidez to recapture the WBC belt because Canelo won’t fight him, and Gennadiy Golovkin and Jermall Charlo want nothing to do with him. Other than those two, there’s no one else worth fighting for Benavidez in the 168-lb division.

If Canelo successfully defeats WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu to become a five-division world champion, he’s got a lot of options available to him at 175, 168, and 160.

With Canelo having a hang-up of sorts in wanting to fight mainly world champions unless their name is Avni Yildirim, Benavidez doesn’t have anything to offer the Mexican star.

Benavidez has no bait to lure Canelo into fighting him. Of course, that would change if Benavidez acted quickly by moving up to 175 to challenge one of the champions in that division before Canelo gets to them.

Beterbiev, Bivol & Joe Smith Jr. targets 

The champions at 175, Artur Beterbiev, Joe Smith Jr, and Dmitry Bivol, will likely all be waiting to see if they get picked by Canelo in 2022.

That being the case, they would all want no part of fighting a young lion like Benavidez to put their $10 million Canelo lottery purse at stake.

Still, it’s worth a try for Benavidez to attempt to set up a fight with one of the light heavyweight champions because, at this point, it’s unrealistic that Canelo will return to the 168-lb division. There’s no one left other than Benavidez now, and Canelo wants nothing to do with him.

The weight class that is important now is 175. Suppose Benavidez and his management could foresee the direction Canelo is heading in. In that case, they could take advantage of it rather than wait and hope that he’ll return to the 168-lb division one day.

If they make that mistake, they’ll be like middleweight champions Gennadiy Golovkin, Jermall Charlo, and Demetrius Andrade, sitting and waiting for Canelo to return to the 160-lb division for the last three years.

These three should have already realized that Canelo WON’T be returning to 160 and moved up to 168 to trap him. They didn’t do it, and they wasted the last three years of their careers spinning their wheels fighting obscure opposition.

In Phoenix, Arizona, the former two-time WBC super middleweight champion Benavidez stopped Kyrone Davis in the seventh round last Saturday night.

Benavidez was hoping that Canelo would choose to defend against him next, as he’s his WBC mandatory after defeating Ronald Ellis by an eleventh round knockout last March in a title eliminator.

Image: WBC approves David Benavidez to fight for interim 168-lb title

Of that bunch, former two-time WBC 168-lb champion Anthony Dirrell is likely the one that will agree to the fight.

Canelo to fight Illunga Makabu for WBC cruiserweight title

Rather than defending against WBC mandatory Benavidez (25-0, 22 KOs), Canelo (57-1-2, 39 KOs) will be moving up to cruiserweight to challenge WBC champion Ilunga Makabu for his title in May or June of 2022.

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman sounded disappointed when he revealed that the board of governors had voted unanimously to approve Canelo Alvarez moving up to 200 to challenge WBC cruiserweight champion Makabu (28-2, 25 KOs) for his title in May or June next year.

It’s possible that Sulaiman was hoping that Canelo, 31, would take a more high-profile fight next against Jermall Charlo, Artur Beterbiev, Gennadiy Golovkin, Dmitry Bivol, or David Benavidez.

The interest from the boxing public would be much higher if Canelo were to fight those guys than little-known Makabu, who has had an unremarkable career despite holding down the WBC cruiserweight title since January 2020.