By Jeff Aronow: #1 WBC 168-lb contender David Benavidez says undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez will need to vacate his titles if he’s not going to return to the division to be defending them.
Benavidez (25-0, 22 KOs) will be facing #2 WBC David Lemieux for the interim WBC 168-lb title. If Canelo is going to shoot up to cruiserweight or light heavyweight in pursuit of legacy fights, he’ll need to vacate his super middleweight title with the World Boxing Council.
Benavidez, 25, has no intentions of sitting around as the interim WBC champion, waiting for years for Canelo to eventually return to the 168-lb division after finishing his title-collecting expedition at 175 or cruiserweight.
Ideally, Benavidez would like for Canelo to return to the super middleweight division to defend against him in 2022 after he first defeats Lemieux (43-4, 36 KOs) to capture the WBC interim 168-lb title.
Alvarez does what he pleases
Canelo (57-1-2, 39 KOs) hasn’t told anyone his concrete plans for his next fight. All we know is he previously revealed at the WBC convention that he would be moving up to cruiserweight to challenge WBC champion Ilunga Makabu.
But as of last weekend, we’re hearing from Mike Coppinger that Canelo is now considering a fight against middleweight Jermall Charlo at 168 for May 7th. Nothing has been announced on that end, and Canelo may choose not to face Jermall.
Canelo does what he pleases at this point, and he often seems to go against what fans want from him.
For example, instead of Canelo fighting Benavidez or Gennady Golovkin, he spent the last two years unifying the 168-lb division against British super middleweights of marginal ability and a weak American champion.
U.S boxing fans wanted none of those fights, but Canelo chose them anyway as if he planned to pick the exact opposite of what people wanted.
Canelo obviously doesn’t like being told what to do, but being defiant won’t help him build his legacy. Children do what they please, and their parents punish them.
The only way Canelo can be punished by fans for giving them the opposite of what they ask is for them to stop watching his fights.
If Canelo wants to impress future generations of ultra-hardcore boxing fans, he will need to start listening to fans of this generation and give them the fights they want to see. Thus far, he’s been getting a failing grade in that area since 2018.
David warns Canelo: “I’m not going nowhere”
“I’m really excited because back then, I was a David Lemieux fan. Like I said, I’ve been watching boxing my whole life,” said David Benavidez to Russ Anber Podcast.
“I feel like it would be a great fight for fans and for boxing,” said Benavidez about him fighting Canelo.
“They can say what they want to say, but I’m still winning my fights, and I’m still #1 in the super middleweight division. People are going to keep calling for that fight [Benavidez vs. Canelo].
“They can say this or that, but I’m here to stay. So if they don’t fight me now, they’re going to have to fight me in the future because I’m not going nowhere.
“Me being 100% honest, I don’t like to get into the politics or none of that,” said Benavidez when asked if he believes Canelo is cherry-picking opponents and avoiding him and Artur Beterbiev,” said Benavidez.
Without the help of the WBC, Benavidez could sit and wait for Canelo for a year or two. Knowing how much the WBC respects Canelo, they likely won’t push for him to face Benavidez in 2022 or 2023.
It will be a pity if Benavidez is forced to wait until 2024 before he finally gets a crack at the WBC title or if he’s elevated without getting a chance to fight Canelo.
Benavidez: Canelo needs to vacate 168-lb titles
“If he’s going to stay at 168, he should fight the #1 at 168,” said Benavidez about Canelo needing to fight him if he’s going to stay at super middleweight.
“He fought the #1 contender when the WBC [168-lb] title was vacant, [Avni] Yildirim, and Yildirim hasn’t fought nobody, and he obviously took care of him.
“If he’s [Canelo] going to be at 168, he’s going to have to fight me. If he’s not going to be at 168, vacate all the titles,” said Benavidez in telling Canelo the cold hard truth.
“He can pick and choose if he’s going to go to 175 or 200 lbs or whatever he wants to do. He can do whatever he wants to do. If people are going today, he’s [Canelo] picking & choosing, that’s for other people to say.
“I stay in my lane. I have tunnel vision. My main focus is the titles. So if he’s not going to fight me, he has to vacate the titles, and I’ll fight for the titles,” said Benavidez.
Canelo isn’t likely going to vacate his WBC title unless he’s ordered to fight Benavidez, and that’s probably not going to happen soon.
Inportant fight against Lemieux
“So, when David Lemieux came, he had his run where he was knocking everybody out,” said Benavidez about his next opponent. “I think it started with [Gabe] Rosado, and then he just kept coming up.
“I love the way he fights,” said Benavidez about Lemieux. “I only took two weeks off from my fight and started training. It’s going to be a great fight, and I feel this is a fight that people want to see.
“Two former world champions, both want to get to the next level. We both need this fight to get the WBC interim title, so we’re both going to come hungry, but the ones that are going to win are the fans.
“Since I came back, I’ve had a five-fight knockout streak, and I’m looking to keep going. Like I said, I want to make a statement. It’s going to be a great fight, but it’s not going to go the distance,” said Benavidez.
This fight for Benavidez against Lemieux could be important, but it depends on how quickly the WBC orders a fight against Canelo.
In some ways, Benavidez would be better off quitting the 168-lb division. At the same time, Canelo holds the four titles because the sanctioning bodies may drag their feet about ordering mandatories for the famous Mexican star.
Benavidez: I’ll beat Canelo 100%
“I take nothing away from Canelo. I feel he’s the best pound-for-pound right now,” said Benavidez. “But like I said, I still want my shot at him. I feel like he’s yet to face somebody like me in the super middleweight division.
“Fast, strong, young, throw body shots, punches in bunches. I feel like I’d give Canelo the best fight, and I feel like I could beat Canelo 100%. I just need my opportunity.
“It’s kind of frustrates me when everybody is coming out saying I haven’t fought nobody, I’ve never fought on pay-per-view, I’m nobody, this and that. You can say all that, but I’m going through the ranks at super middleweight.
“I’ve been #1 for three fights already. I’ve been beating the people that I have to beat, and I’m there. People love to see me fight, so why wouldn’t they want to fight me?” said Benavidez.
You’d have to give Benavidez a heck of a chance of beating Canelo with the way the superstar has looked in the last year. Canelo’s work rate is so low now, and his reflexes are slowing, causing him to get more than ever before.
He was losing to Caleb Plant and Billy Joe Saunders for the first half of those fights, and those weren’t great talents.