My gut tells me that Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez will make the jump back up to light heavyweight to go after an undisputed crown at 175 pounds. It keeps with his running theme of daring to be greater , while etching another chapter in his glorious fighting legacy.
But if he opts to defend his newly-minted undisputed super middleweight championship, it should be against David Benavidez. Not his nemesis Gennadiy Golovkin at a 168-pound trilogy tilt nor catchweight.
At 24-years-old, the undefeated Benavidez (25-0, 22 KOs) poses the best threat to Canelo’s crown. He stands 6’0½ with a 74½-inch reach. More importantly, unlike Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant — all who Canelo plowed through — “El Bandera Roja” LETS HIS HANDS GO and throws everything with bad intentions.
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This was on display Saturday night, when he bulldozed through Kyrone Davis toward a seventh-round TKO at the Footprint Center in his hometown of Phoenix, Ariz. Benavidez carved Davis up with slicing punches that were launched and targeted from wild angles. Plus, there’s his volume. Benavidez does not stop punching.
Those attributes would make for, at least on paper, a thrilling fight between he and Canelo. And Benavidez knows it and called for it accordingly while celebrating his latest win.
"It was tough but I have so much condition, I'm going to keep going until he eventually stops," he said. "I think everybody wants to see me against Canelo. I'll go through anybody; whoever they want me to go through."
Benavidez shouldn’t have to go through anybody, though. Educated boxing fans know that he’s been the class of 168 pounds before Canelo made his home in the division.
Add that to the fact that Benavidez is a former two-time WBC super middleweight champion, having lost the title only due to his own discretions — whether they be a positive drug test or tipping the scale well north of super middleweight.
Those blunders aside, nobody has beaten Benavidez in the ring. Watching Benavidez fight and listening to him talk, I believe he’ll bring the fight to Canelo with constant pressure, all while refusing to back down. That's what Canelo needs to be really challenged — someone like Benavidez who will sit lock himself in the phone booth with him and aim to hurt the champ.
I believe that Benavidez would sit in the pocket with Canelo, trade punches with the boxing sensation and even punch through traffic to get Alvarez off his square and force him to fight. Benavidez can be disrespectful respectfully and his incessant punching demonstrates that.
Whether it would work remains to be seen, as Benavidez could stand toe-to-toe with Canelo, drown the undisputed champ out with punching volume and still be prone to crunching, debilitating body shots that ultimately make him succumb.
Still, the thrills would be there all the way through. And while Benavidez is empty-handed at the moment without a title, I believe Canelo’s fighting legacy would have much more to gain by handing “El Bandero Roja” his first loss than reenergizing his rivalry with GGG.
Canelo trying to tame a young, hungry lion like Benavidez is the fight to make. I think he’ll target the light heavyweight undisputed crown, but I’m hoping it comes after a showdown with Benavidez first, with Cinco de Mayo weekend being the ideal timing.