Canelo’s Reign on Thin Ice? Benavidez and Morrell Lurking in the Super Middleweight Shadows

By Jeff Sorby - 01/25/2024 - Comments

Canelo Alvarez still holds onto his undisputed super middleweight championship and #1 spot in the division despite two worthy fighters for his top sport, David Benavidez and David Morrell Jr.

Jermall Charlo is rumored to be the frontrunner for Canelo’s next title defense on May 4th, so he’s not going to be able to knock off one of his two main threats, Benavidez or Morrell if he chooses to take on the twin.

Benavidez: The Mandatory Menace

Chris Algieri still views Canelo (60-2-2, 39 KOs) as the best in the 168, but if he doesn’t fight WBC interim champion Benavidez by September, he’ll move him into the #1 position.

Putting Benavidez in that spot without him fighting for it would be unfair to Morrell because he actually holds a real title with his WBA ‘regular’ super middleweight. Benavidez has been avoiding him in the same way that Canelo has been avoiding him.

The WBC can strip Canelo if he avoids Benavidez, but they probably won’t. He’s a popular champion, and it would look bad for the WBC at home in Mexico if they took Canelo’s belt away and gave it to Benavidez.

The Twilight of Canelo?

“He’s #1, but he’s fading out. If they strip him and Benavidez picks up one of the titles [WBC], then Benavidez becomes #1 in my book,” said Paulie Malignaggi to ProBox TV, talking about who he views as the best super middleweight.

“The Mayweather fight was ten years ago. He’s been fighting at a high level for ten years. That takes it out of anybody,” said Chris Algieri about Canelo. “Every great fighter closes out their career with a subpar performance. I don’t care who you are.

“You fight too long. The money is there, so you keep fighting. Manny Pacquiao lost to Ugas. Manny Pacquiao is an all-time great. He underperformed in that fight. Oscar De La Hoya went out against Pacquiao.

“Everyone does that except for Floyd, obviously, but Floyd wasn’t fighting the tip-top guys at the end of his career either. So, yes. Are we seeing the twilight of Canelo’s very long and illustrious career? Absolutely.”

If Canelo doesn’t want to fight Benavidez, he shouldn’t have to because he’s already done a lot with his career.

Benavidez should have to take at least one risky fight before he gets to Canelo’s throne by facing Morrell. If he doesn’t wish to fight Benavidez, he should face Artur Beterbiev to show that he can compete with someone his own size.

The Fight Everyone Wants

“Can he still fight at a high level? Absolutely. Does he still have one more?” said Algieri. “Absolutely. That’s why I have him edging David Benavidez. But six months from now, if they don’t fight, I’ve got a big problem.

“If they don’t fight this year, I’m going to have David Morrell taking Canelo over, because the longer this fight takes to make, I’m going to lean towards Benavidez. If he doesn’t fight him by September of this year, it means he doesn’t want the fight,” said Algieri about Canelo if he doesn’t fight Benavidez by September.

“Every great Mexican goes out and fights the guy. Chavez fought De La Hoya twice. It never knocks their career to lose to the next guy. I really want him to fight Benavidez whether he wins or loses.

“I think its good for the sport, and I don’t think it hurt his legacy if he does. In fact, I think it helps him. If he goes out, even on a loss to Benavidez, I think it helps his career,” said Algieri about Canelo.

Canelo would probably take the fight with Benavidez in a heartbeat if the two were the same size, but they’re not. Benavidez looks as big as Sergey Kovalev was when Canelo fought him years ago, and he’s a lot younger at 27.

YouTube video