The World Boxing Council have given #2 David Lemieux (43-4, 36 KOs) and #1 David Benavidez (25-0, 22 KOs) approval for the two to battle for the interim WBC 168-lb title as part of their permitting undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez to move up to cruiserweight to take on belt-holder Ilunga Makabu.
This means that Canelo (57-1-2, 39 KOs) will stick to his and his trainer/coach Eddy Reynoso’s idea of moving up to challenge WBC cruiserweight champion Makabu (28-2, 25 KOs) for his title next May, as long as he successfully defends his title in his mandatory defense next month on January 29th against Thabiso Mchunu (23-5, 13 KOs).
With Canelo choosing to move up to cruiserweight to face the weakest link on the food chain in the highly vulnerable 34-year-old Makabu, it means that the Mexican star has chosen to ignore promoter Eddie Hearn’s recommendations that he goes up to 175 and try and become the undisputed champion in that weight class.
There would be far more interest from boxing fans in seeing Canelo the dangerous gang of three at 175 in the following champions:
- Artur Beterbiev – IBF/WBC
- Dmitry Bivol – WBA
- Joe Smith Jr – WBO
For Canelo to be sticking with his original idea of fighting Makabu, it seems pretty clear that he doesn’t want any of the smoke against the ‘Three Kings’ at 175 in Beterbiev, Bivol, and Smith Jr.
The WBC granted Saul Alvarez, a special permission to challenge the WBC champion in the Cruiserweight division in 2022. Reason for which, the Board of Governors approved a WBC interim championship in the division which will be contested by #1 David Benavidez and #2 David Lemieux. pic.twitter.com/qzyMZZugOZ
— World Boxing Council (@WBCBoxing) December 16, 2021
The 32-year-old former IBF middleweight champion Lemieux has won his last five fights against marginal opposition since losing to Billy Joe Saunders by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision in 2017.
Lemieux’s victories have come against these less than stellar fighters:
Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan
Lemieux will need to raise his game considerably for him not to be blown out by the much younger 24-year-old Benavidez because, on paper, he doesn’t stand a chance.
This is no knock on Canelo, but Benavidez is viewed as the #1 fighter in the 168-lb division by8 many boxing fans, including this writer. Canelo is merely a guy that has cherry-picked four weak champions to become the undisputed champ.
Benavidez lost his WBC 168-lb title when he failed to make weight for his title defense against Roamer Alexis Angulo in August 2020.
Trapped in the bubble, Benavidez could not get to his regular exercise equipment to take-off weight on the week of the fight, which resulted in him coming in overweight at 170 3/4 lbs and losing his WBC title on the scales.
Acting fast, Canelo went after Benavidez’s stripped WBC title and fought for the vacant belt against British fighter Callum Smith in December 2019.
Benavidez thought it was interesting that Canelo chose to fight for his WBC title AFTER it had been stripped from him rather than when he still held it.
Canelos bird of prey move to go after the stripped WBC title in lightning speed reinforced the view that many boxing fans have is the Mexican star wants no part of fighting Benavidez.