What’s next for Benavidez?

By Boxing News - 03/27/2023 - Comments

By Alex Fesl: After a sensational victory this past weekend against Caleb Plant, David Benavidez now continues his quest to be considered the best super middleweight fighter in the world. Looking ahead, Benavidez has some interesting options for his next potential opponents.

Canelo Alvarez

On August 15, 2020, Benavidez took on Roamer Alexis Angulo for the vacant WBC super middleweight belt. The belt was vacant due to Benavidez testing positive for cocaine several months earlier. Benavidez dominated Angulo that night but had weighed in above the super middleweight limit the previous day, so the belt was only at stake for Angulo.

With the belt vacant, Canelo Alvarez would seemingly bypass everyone and take on Callum Smith for the WBC super middleweight belt. Alvarez dominated Smith in a very one-sided and dull affair to claim the title. After that fight, Canelo would defend his WBC belt against an extremely overmatched Avni Yildirim several months later.

Fast forward a few years, Canelo and Benavidez are now side by side in the WBC rankings, with Canelo being the full champion and Benavidez the interim champion. Likewise, Canelo and Benavidez are regarded as the clear top two super middleweights in the world after this past weekend.

Looking forward, Canelo is scheduled to take on John Ryder this May in Mexico. Canelo is the heavy favorite in that matchup, and fans are already wondering who Canelo will be taking on afterwards.

Matchroom promoter, Eddie Hearn, has been mentioning in interviews for months that the plan is to have Canelo fight WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol in September. Many fans have no interest in that rematch and would rather see Benavidez fight Canelo instead. Hearn seems to have a strong sway with Canelo, so fans can expect a Canelo versus Bivol rematch, unfortunately.

David Morrell Jr.

At only eight fights in his career, Morrell has already shown flashes of greatness in his limited number of fights. He comes forward with aggression and power and also can box and counterpunch from the outside.

The highly talented and skilled Cuban would be a great opponent for Benavidez as both hold secondary belts, with Canelo as the main belt holder, with Canelo seemingly having no intentions of fighting either Morrell or Benavidez. In an ideal world, Benavidez would fight Morrell for a shot at Canelo, and then we could get rid of those silly secondary interim belts. While that doesn’t seem likely, Morrell is perhaps the best available opponent that also happens to be under the same promotional umbrella as Benavidez, PBC. On paper, this fight should not be that hard to set up, and fans would welcome this PPV-worthy matchup.

Demetrius Andrade

Former multi-division champion Andrade is also in the mix at super middleweight. While some may not like the elusive style of Andrade, he would make a good stylistic matchup with Benavidez, much like the Benavidez versus Plant matchup this past weekend.

Andrade is also viewed as one of the most talented boxers over the past few years, so a matchup with Benavidez would definitely elevate both boxers’ resumes and legacies, respectively.

Additionally, Andrade has also positioned himself under the same PBC umbrella as Morrell and Benavidez, so a fight with either of these fighters or even some sort of a round-robin tournament with another fighter would be compelling for fight fans.

Christian Mbilli

Seldom hyped in the boxing media, Mbilli has shown himself to be a legitimate contender in the super middleweight division. This past week, Mbilli scored an impressive decision over the talented counterpuncher Carlos Gongora.

Mbilli is also currently rated as the number one contender according to the WBC super middleweight rankings, so the WBC could potentially order a Benavidez versus Mbilli fight. While it seems quite strange to order that fight instead of Benavidez vs. Canelo, weirder things have happened in boxing, especially with the WBC.

Either way, Mbilli would make a good opponent for Benavidez as he is a come-forward all action throwback type of fighter. Most fans would rather see Morrell or Andrade versus Benavidez, but Mbilli would be an acceptable third-tier option.

WBC ranked fighters

Like most major boxing organizations, the WBC rankings are kind of all over the place. Currently, Caleb Plant, Christian Mbilli, Ali Akhmedov, Erik Bazinyan, and Demetrius Andrade are in the top 5, respectively. Plant, Mbillli, and Andrade are all considered world class fighters. Akhmedov was upset by Gongora back in 2020 and hasn’t really done anything interesting since then. Akhmedov last defeated 15-loss Gabe Rosado last September. Erik Bazinyan is inexplicably ranked number three by WBC. Most of Bazinyan’s fights have taken place in Canada against subpar opposition. It’s safe to say Bazinyan is not worthy of a match with Benavidez and would likely get hurt.

Move to light heavyweight

In past interviews, Benavidez has mentioned that he has aspirations to move up to light heavyweight and even cruiserweight at some point. If Benavidez can’t find an interesting or compelling opponent at super middleweight, maybe a jump to light heavyweight could be in store for Benavidez. Benavidez is definitely a bigger super middleweight, so he wouldn’t have too many issues getting comfortable at light heavyweight.

If Bivol has a date with Canelo in September, maybe IBF / WBC /WBO light heavyweight champ Artur Beterbiev can fight Benavidez around that same time, and the winners can meet up in a super fight. While that seems like a pipe dream to many, several major boxing organizations, have allowed champions from lower weight classes to jump up and immediately be the number one contender for the higher weight class in the past. Like I mentioned earlier, weirder things have happened in boxing. Don’t dismiss these fantasy-like matchups. Anything can happen!