WBC Creates Another Canelo vs. Benavidez Roadblock

By Will Arons - 02/18/2024 - Comments

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman states that David Benavidez is the mandatory challenger for undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez. Well, sort of. Here’s the catch. Sulaiman still hasn’t set a deadline for the fight and will permit the superstar Canelo to fight on May 4th with interim WBC champion Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs) forced to wait on the sidelines, hoping that he’ll get a chance to fight Alvarez next.

“Mandatory” Loses Its Meaning”

Calling Benavidez “mandatory” loses meaning without a timeframe for the Canelo fight. Sulaiman may put forth the announcement in March, but without a clear order date, it simply delays the inevitable question: When, if ever, will these two actually face off?

Sulaiman told Pro Boxing Fans that Benavidez will be made mandatory to Canelo in March, but left open when he would order the contest.

The WBC is a tough spot. Making Canelo, boxing’s biggest star, into a fight he doesn’t immediately want risks him vacating their WBC belt. While Benavidez would then step up as champion, this raises other issues:

It’s no secret Benavidez struggles to make the super middleweight limit. It’s possible he won’t hold the title for long before inevitably moving up weight classes. Even if Benavidez takes over as the WBC 168-lb champion, how long will he hold onto the belt if Canelo vacates or is stripped? Benavidez, who looks as big as a house when rehydrated for his fights at 168, will need to move up soon.

A Lose-Lose Scenario

With both Canelo and Benavidez gone, the WBC would be left with lesser-known (and less marketable) contenders vying for the belt. It’s a lose-lose for them as they lose star power no matter how they proceed.

While fans want Canelo vs. Benavidez, the WBC is more focused on business realities. Benavidez is lucky they don’t have a strict rehydration policy, which he likely struggles to abide by. Ultimately, boxing remains a sport entangled with politics. Forcing Canelo’s hand serves little purpose for the WBC’s bottom line long-term.

This mandatory announcement feels like a way to appease fans who’ve grown weary of waiting. Yet, it offers no firm path toward Canelo vs. Benavidez. Unless the WBC is willing to take a major risk in forcing Canelo to comply, the boxing world remains on hold while Canelo’s next move – whatever that may be – becomes the center of speculation once again.

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