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Canelo Álvarez Doesn’t Need to Fight David Benavidez

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Canelo Álvarez Doesn’t Need to Fight David Benavidez
Photo Credit: Gayle Falkenthal, NY Fights

If Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez is indeed avoiding a showdown with two-time WBC super middleweight world champion David Benavidez, the Mexican superstar is well within his rights to do so.

This will likely be a very unpopular take; I get it. He’s the face of boxing, and people want to see the sport’s biggest name take on the best challenges. Canelo-Benavidez is undoubtedly the fight to make at 168 pounds. But Alvarez doesn’t owe us a thing.

Canelo Álvarez Sets the Standard

Canelo Alvarez is the lineal and undisputed super middleweight champion. Photo: Ed Mullholland/Matchroom.

Canelo Alvarez is the lineal and undisputed super middleweight champion. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

For the last 12 years,  Álvarez has set the standard. He won world titles in four weight classes from 154 to 175 pounds, including unified titles in three of those weight divisions and lineal titles in two. Furthermore, Álvarez became the first undisputed super middleweight champion in boxing history.

Canelo Álvarez is still a young man in the real world, but 64 fights are a lot in boxing. Álvarez will likely be the last world champion of the modern era to eclipse 60 fights, let alone 50.

Do we need to remind anyone that Álvarez fought Gennadiy Golovkin three times? Sure, the first two fights could have been awarded to the longtime middleweight champion. There were a good number of fighters who wanted the smoke during GGG’s rise, including Felix Sturm, Sergio Martinez, and Miguel Cotto.

Even when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world, Álvarez was still trying everything in his power to get back in the ring, going as far as to sue his then-promoter Oscar De La Hoya and DAZN. That took a lot of balls.

David Needs Goliath

David Benavidez scores the knockdown against Demetrius Andrade in the fourth round of their fight Saturday in Las Vegas. Photo: Amanda Wescott, Showtime Boxing

David Benavidez scores the knockdown against Demetrius Andrade in the fourth round of their fight Saturday in Las Vegas. Photo: Amanda Wescott, Showtime Boxing

From my perspective, it wouldn’t surprise me necessarily if Canelo Álvarez decided to retire at the end of the year. His legacy is secure as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He doesn’t need David Benavidez, but David Benavidez sure as hell needs him. That’s not his problem.

“Everybody says the same thing all my life,” Álvarez said in an interview on the radio show The Breakfast Club. “When I fight with [Austin] Trout, they say I’m ducking Trout. When I fight with other fighters, they say I’m ducking Golovkin, I’m ducking Erislandy Lara. Every time I beat every single fighter they say I have this other fighter. They find somebody else. I’m ducking nobody. I’ve been in this position a lot of times. I just do the fights that are the best for the fans.”

Pacquiao Never Fought Terence Crawford

Manny Pacquiao's legacy is assured despite never having faced Bud Crawford. Photo: Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions

Manny Pacquiao was an eight-division world champion. No one was particularly outraged that the Filipino icon avoided Terence Crawford, including the former undisputed welterweight world champion himself.

“Pacquiao earned the right to go out how he wants to go out. He had fought everybody there was to fight — when they were there to fight. He fought all the top names. Eight-division champion. He accomplished everything there is to do in the sport of boxing,” Crawford told Sirius XM in 2018.

“So if he (Pacquiao) chooses to go out with some fights of his choice, he deserved that. He earned that right.”

Has Canelo earned that right? Absolutely. But here’s the problem. Pacquiao is universally adored—for the most part—and Canelo Álvarez has his trove of salty haters.

Focus on the Accomplishments

Canelo Alvarez has a one-way ticket to the Hall of Fame no matter what happens from today forward. Photo: Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions

Canelo Alvarez has a one-way ticket to the Hall of Fame no matter what happens from today forward. Photo: Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions

If Canelo Álvarez never fights David Benavidez, will it be disappointing? Sure. I want to see the fight, but if it doesn’t happen, oh well. We’ve been through this a countless number of times. Just because it happens to be Canelo doesn’t make it any worse.

What would I rather see? I’d love to see the young guns fight one another.

That means David Benavidez vs. David Morrell, Jaime Munguia vs. Caleb Plant, and Vladimir Shishkin against someone with a pulse for Pete’s Sake.

Every great boxer eventually becomes a businessman in the second half of their career. Rather than focusing on that, let’s appreciate Canelo Álvarez for what he’s accomplished. Do we harp on Marvin Hagler for never fighting Mike McCallum? No! We revere his résumé, which included names like Tommy Hearns, Roberto Durán, Sugar Ray Leonard, John Mugabi, and Alan Minter.

We can’t miss mentioning Floyd Mayweather Jr. The former five-division world champion was criticized throughout the second half of his career for who he didn’t fight.

However, Mayweather wasn’t the face of the sport early on in his career. That honor belonged to Oscar De La Hoya, who he eventually defeated by a 12-round split decision in May 2007. A lot of fans missed out on the best version of him. Of his 50 opponents, seven were against Hall of Famers. It’ll be nine eventually when Pacquiao and Álvarez are enshrined.

Canelo Álvarez doesn't need to pass the torch. These young fighters behind him have been trying to score that lottery ticket long enough. It's time for them to light their own flame and see what they're truly made of. Let's see what the future holds.