Following Canelo Alvarez's successful undisputed super middleweight title defense over John Ryder, the conversation has shifted to what will be next for the Mexican superstar.
Canelo has made it clear that he intends to challenge Dmitry Bivol again after falling short when the two met last May in Las Vegas. It appears that the two fighters have differing opinions on the weight class for the rematch. Bivol has made it clear that he intends to challenge Canelo for the undisputed super middleweight crown while Canelo wants the fight at light heavyweight.
However, that’s not the fight to make. At all. Instead, there’s only one opponent that he should look to next and that is none other than “The Mexican Monster” David Benavidez. And Benavidez's promoter Sampson Lewkowicz has reportedly made a lucrative offer in the realm of close to $50 million for the two fighters to meet in September.
While the fact that Bivol just might have Canelo’s number can easily be pointed at as the reason why a rematch should not be next, there’s also the fact that Canelo-Benavidez is an infinitely more appealing fight both in and out of the ring.
Canelo-Bivol wasn’t exactly a blockbuster fight. Instead, it was Canelo’s attempt at chasing greatness that people tuned in to see, considering that Bivol wasn’t very well known outside of boxing circles. The fight lacked a significant buzz and Bivol wasn’t seen as much of a threat to casual fight fans with the oddsmakers agreeing and setting the betting lines with Canelo being a prohibitive -500 favorite.
Bivol’s victory wasn’t exactly a star-making performance and while a rematch would certainly do better at the box office, it still lacks the marketability to separate casual fans from their attention and hard-earned cash.
Benavidez, on the other hand, has quite a few things working in his favor that potentially makes a bout with Canelo one of the biggest pay-per-views of the year. Not that it matters to Canelo, but it matters to the boxing world.
For starters, Benavidez is a Mexican fighter that has made it clear that he’s coming to take the Mexican holidays reserved for big boxing events — Cinco De Mayo and Mexican Independence Day — away from him. That, in itself, is a challenge that Canelo that he hasn’t had to deal with in his boxing career.
Benavidez is younger with an aesthetically pleasing style that some fight fans would immediately identify as “Mexican Style,” which combines relentless pressure with high volume.
In Benavidez’s last outing against Caleb Plant, he impressively throttled the former IBF champion with his bludgeoning power. That performance only heightened expectations for what could be a massive showdown between the present face of boxing and the future.
Benavidez has seen his profile rise over the years. Still only 26 years old, Benavidez is already a two-time WBC super middleweight champion with a sparkling undefeated record of 27-0 with 23 knockouts.
He rarely has an underwhelming performance and his moniker “The Mexican Monster” has endeared him to fans. Pairing his style with Canelo would certainly produce fireworks and present an intriguing bout on paper for Canelo.
Not to mention that it would be a Mexican Independence Day fight between two Mexican fighters, and that just sounds enticing.
There’s also the fact that Bivol has said that he’s not interested in defending his 175 pound title against Canelo and would like the opportunity to come down and challenge for the Mexican’s undisputed super middleweight titles. While this sounds fair, it’s not what Canelo is interested in.
“If I brought him down everyone would start f—king talking,” Canelo said during his recent media workout. “Everyone is going to start f—king saying, ‘oh, but he brought him down [in weight], that’s why he lost’, but they didn’t say anything when I went up in weight, but it’s the same thing.”
If the two sides can’t come to an agreement, that obviously leaves the door open for Benavidez to step in and face Canelo in September. Benavidez is also the WBC interim 168-pound champion, which puts him directly in line to face the champion.
Aside from Canelo’s ego, there really is no reason the Mexican should face Bivol next. Instead, the undisputed super middleweight champion should clean out the division and turn back the biggest threat to his titles. In the interim, if Bivol can land a potential undisputed light heavyweight title showdown with fellow titleholder Artur Beterbiev and come out victorious, it would only make a rematch with Canelo bigger.
If Canelo wants to please fight fans, give them what they want. They don't want Canelo-Bivol 2 next — they want Canelo-Benavidez.