There’s no reason that Canelo Alvarez vs David Benavidez shouldn’t happen next

There’s only one fight for Canelo.

(Well, maybe two.) 

But one was made obvious when David Benavidez pounded Demetrius Andrade into submission in defense of his WBC interim super middleweight championship at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas. 

MORE: Benavidez steamrolls Andrade, calls out Canelo

This was the true definition of a “statement.” Benavidez, the 26-year-old who has proven to be worthy of the nickname “The Mexican Monster,” forced everyone to open their eyes and look into what could be in Canelo’s future. A systematic and extraordinarily violent dismantling of a previously unbeaten opponent that nobody was in a hurry to fight. An opponent that routinely called out Canelo was frighteningly pummeled until his corner refused to send him out to the ring for the seventh round in fear of irreversible damage. It was the kind of performance that strikes fear into a man’s heart. 

It demanded our attention. And, most certainly, it got Canelo’s. 

What Benavidez did to Andrade wasn’t able to be ignored. It left the contingency of bloodthirsty fans wanting more and asking “When is Canelo going to fight Benavidez.” If Benavidez can’t demand the fight, maybe the fans will. 

At this point, there’s nothing Canelo can say to avoid the fight. Ever since he signed a three-fight deal with PBC in June, the idea of Canelo facing Benavidez has routinely been brought up. But much to the chagrin of fans and Benavidez, Canelo hadn’t been keen on the idea of facing Benavidez. Although he’s never been known as a fighter to avoid a challenge, Canelo hadn’t seen anything in Benavidez that would make the fight significant. It appeared that he was content on pursuing a rematch with Dmitry Bivol, squaring off with Jermall Charlo or making an inconceivably horrid fight with Jamie Munguia before expressing any interest in fighting Benavidez. But for someone who often says “if the fans want it” or “”f it makes sense” when it comes to his next fight, he now has an opponent that fits both of those categories.

David Benavidez is the only opponent that makes sense for Canelo

For starters, Benavidez is the reigning WBC interim super middleweight champion and two-time WBC super middleweight champion. He’s conceivably next in line and has earned every ounce of it. The only reason he isn’t the current champion is due to losing the title twice outside of the ring. A positive drug test for cocaine cost him the title in 2018 and losing it on the scale in 2021 are the reasons why an undefeated fighter isn’t the current champion. But to most, because he never lost the title in a fight, he is still considered the real champion. And with Canelo essentially wiping out the rest of the 168-pound title holders and top challengers, there’s only one opponent left. 

Canelo can’t avoid it due to the words that have come out of his own mouth.

“I’m ducking nobody,” Canelo said on a recent appearance on The Breakfast Club. “I’ve been in this position a lot of times so I just do the fights that I think are best for the fans.”

Well, this is the fight that the fans think is best.

Benavidez has all of the tools it takes to make him a viable threat: youth, size, strength, chin and style. He’s one of the most explosive offensive fighters in all of boxing and has the numbers to back it up as he ranks in the upper half of most offensive categories, according to Compubox. And on Saturday in Vegas, it was all on full display. In just six rounds, Benavidez piled on 117 punches landed and was once again an avalanche that gained momentum as the rounds wore on. After landing only 11 of 83 (13%) of his punches in the first three rounds, “The Mexican Monster” went on to land an absurd 91 of 201 punches (45%) in rounds three through six. By comparison, in Canelo’s rout of Jermell Charlo in September, he landed 134 of 385 punches (34.8%) in twelve rounds. 

Benavidez’s sheer activity alone could present a massive problem for an increasingly conservative Canelo and force the Mexican superstar to spend far more energy than he has in recent years. Benavidez never appears to grow tired, regardless of how long the fight goes. He’s a stalking monster that covers distance exceptionally well and cuts off all escape routes for his opponents to avoid punishment. Both Caleb Plant and Demetrius Andrade, routinely considered excellent boxers with great footwork, found Benavidez’s offense inescapable and suffocating. It’s the kind of style that Canelo hasn’t had to deal with and fans would love to see how the undisputed champion would deal with that kind of relentless pressure over the course of 36 minutes.

Nobody believes that Canelo is “scared” of Benavidez, but we are getting dangerously close to the dreaded ‘D’ word if he opts for any other opponent. And that word is “duck.” There’s no other reason at this point for Canelo to deny Benavidez of the opportunity. He’s earned it by pummeling every opponent placed in front of him while headlining his second consecutive pay-per-view. 

And then there’s the fact that Benavidez is threatening Canelo’s grip on the Mexican holidays. As a clash between two of the biggest Mexican stars in boxing, it’s certain to be one of the biggest events of the year. Judging by the contingency of Mexican fans who came out to see Benavidez run roughshod over Andrade, there will be a hefty amount of fans who will side with Benavidez over Canelo. 

There’s legitimately only one person who could throw a monkey wrench in this entire ordeal and that is Terence Crawford. 

But a number of things would have to take place in order for a Canelo-Crawford fight to materialize. For starters, Crawford would have to climb an unprecedented three weight classes in order for the fight to be feasible. He would then have to find a way out of his contractually obligated rematch with Errol Spence Jr. which is set to take place sometime in 2024. And then there’s the little fact that Canelo has said over and over again that a fight with a smaller Crawford does nothing for his legacy. 

MORE: The Sporting News pound for pound rankings

Do you know what would do something for his legacy? A fight with Benavidez. Canelo has no size advantage and would find himself in an uphill battle against a younger opponent that is destined to bring out the best in him, should he still have it in his tank. 

“I’ve been winning the fights I was supposed to win in fantastic fashion. He has nobody else to fight,” Benavidez said about Canelo Alvarez. “If they want to give it to me now, later, or whenever. I’m not going nowhere.”

Benavidez is tired of calling out Canelo because he’s aware that Canelo has nowhere else to turn but to him if he truly wants to give the fans what they want in a fight that makes the most sense. 

“I just want to say welcome to the David Benavidez era,” the undefeated fighter said with his closing remarks at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. 

It’s now up to Canelo to prove that it’s still his era. And the only way to do that is to give fans the fight they want by facing Benavidez in 2024.  

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