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COMMISSIONER’S CORNER: A Tale of Two Divisions

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There is a lot more separating the heavyweight division from the middleweight division than some 40 pounds. It’s called talent.

On paper, Saturday night’s bash at Madison Square Garden should have been one of the sport’s biggest nights of the year. On paper, the heavyweight matchup between undefeated heavyweights Bryant Jennings (18-0) and Mike Perez (20-0-1), looked to be a phenomenal one. On paper, the matchup in a middleweight title fight between WBO champ Gennady Golovkin and former IBF champ Daniel Geale also looked to be a splendid matchup. Only the middleweight fight turned out to be a thriller, albeit a short one.

Going into Saturday night and on paper, both of the above fights looked like “Can’t miss” events. But fights take place in the ring, not on paper.

The Jennings-Perez match was supposed to be part of the rejuvenation of the heavyweight division. That same day, 3,300 miles away, in England, another heavyweight match was supposed to begin the rejuvenation: Tyson Fury vs Dereck Chisora II.

Then came last Monday. Chisora allegedly broke a hand during his last sparring session. We say “allegedly” because we were never shown an x-ray with his name on the film of the break. Bad break for Chisora. Bad break for the heavyweight division.

Some news of salvation of sorts for the heavyweight division followed. Alexander Ustinov–all 6′ 8½” and 305 pounds of him, along with his 29-1 (21 KO’s) record, would step in to replace Chisora.

All looked good until a day before the fight, when Tyson Fury’s uncle and former trainer–Hughie–was rushed to the hospital in serious condition. With that on his mind, Tyson pulled out of the fight.

While the heavyweight division still had lost a Tyson Fury fight, it was still getting the Jennings-Perez bout. It was a scheduled 12-rounder and billed as a title eliminator. The loser would go home, lick his wounds and regroup. The winner would go home and party. His next fight would be a promised title shot. Against who? Wladimir Klitschko? Bermane Stiverne? Klitschko, the IBF/WBA/WBO/IBO Heavyweight Champion is in heavy training for a September 6 defense against Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev. Stiverne is closing in on announcing a late Fall date for a defense against 31-0 (31) Deontay Wilder.

Mike Perez is the same Mike Perez who faced Magomed Abdusalamov last November 2 in New York’s Madison Square Garden. This was Perez’ second outing since that tragic night, a night which has left Abdusalamov with brain damage and in a Westchester, New York, rehab center. A few months after the fight, Perez fought to a draw against Carlos Takam. He looked listless in the fight. It often happens to fighters coming off tragic endings in their prior bout. Sometimes, the fire never rekindles in their fighting spirit. It was wondered if it would rekindle in Perez. It doesn’t look that way. He was 20 pounds above his prime fighting weight and wore the weight around his middle.

Still, fans anticipated a slugfest between the two unbeaten, Jennings and Perez. The only problem is, neither heavyweight came to act like a heavyweight. Neither man was willing to throw punches with, as Mike Tyson used to say, “Bad Intentions.” Jennings and Perez were more desirous to hold, maul, head butt, move and pose than they were to fight like heavyweights, the biggest, strongest, hardest-hitting men in our sport. Jennings-Perez was this years’ “Wladimir Klitschko-Alexander Povetkin fight…12 rounds of little action. Klitschko-Povetkin made Mike Tyson-Bonecrusher Smith–another clinch-filled heavyweight 12-rounder–look like a slugfest. During the course of the bout, the crowd—an announced 8,572—was so quiet and still that they looked like a watercolor painting. A cheer went up when ring announcer Michael Buffer’s voice boomed over the MSG P.A. system, “THIS is the 12th and final round.”

In that final round, referee Harvey Dock took a point away from Perez for continuing to punch after his command of “Stop!” The one-point loss was crucial to the outcome of the fight. Judge Tom Schreck had it 114-113 for Perez. Judge Joe Pasquale had it 115-112 for Jennings. Judge Glenn Feldman had it 114-113 for Jennings, but it would have been 114-114 on his card without the point deduction, making the fight a draw instead of a split decision win for Jennings.

Don’t blame Dock for taking a point from Perez as the reason for Perez losing, however. Perez lost because his fire is gone, perhaps and probably extinguished forever.

Following the forgettable heavyweight match came the middleweight title fight and a view of the rapidly-growing-to-legendary-status Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.

I had no doubt GGG would win, but not this fast, not this easily, not this impressively. I thought he’d be tested–even a little bit–by Geale, a world class fighter.

GGG is in a league by himself. With every outing, against every world-class talent he is put in with, you will see it more and more.

On Friday, I spoke to our esteemed Editor, Michael Woods, following the official weigh-in. He noted that, for the first time, GGG was not his usual, jovial self. There was no joking with reporters. There was no posing for the cameras. There was no warm handshake for Geale–just a look of a stone-faced killer.

“Could Golovkin be feeling some nervousness?” I asked Woodsy.

“You never know what’s going through a man’s mind,” said our Editor. “But I will say this–I have never seen this side of him before. Maybe because, as a pro, Triple G is facing one of his toughest opponents.”

Once the bell rang, you would have never known it.

GGG toyed with Geale. He measured him from the start, felt his power and felt his strength. HE sized up his speed and timing. It didn’t take long.

The fight was over 10 minutes and 47 seconds after the opening bell (and that includes the rest periods after the first and second rounds). The undefeated GGG had notched his 30th victory, his 27th knockout, his 17th consecutive knockout and his 11th defense of his WBA Middleweight Championship. In a sport where championships are handed out like hors’ doeuvres at a wedding, GGG’s title is one which truly means something.

The power-packed 3rd round TKO–which left Geale standing like a drunk outside Madison Square Garden at 3:00 a.m.–also sent the 8,572 fans in attendance out of The Garden talking glowingly about the performance they had just seen.

“This Triple GGG is for (expletive) real,” said a fan who had spent $400 for a ringside seat. “I had to be close. I wanted to feel the power, which I’ve been told you can, if you’re close enough,” said the fan. “So I got close enough.”

So, did he feel the power?

“I absolutely did!” he said. “I absolutely did! The guy is incredible!”

Another fan felt the same way about Golovkin.

“He is the best champion in boxing, bar none!” said the fan as he departed The Garden with a few friends. “Bar none!”

The fans just may be right.

On September 1, 2012, we–the North American boxing fans–got our first look at Golovkin. I had known about him and had seen some videos on him, so was somewhat prepared for what to expect. My friend Charlie Fitch was selected to be the referee for Golovkin’s U.S. debut on HBO. His opponent was rugged Gregorz Proksa, from Poland, who brought a 29-1 record into the fight and a reputation as an iron-jawed slugger who had never been dropped. Charlie and I spoke about the fight, which was held at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York. He said he knew about the toughness of Proksa and the high skill level of GGG. He said he was ready for anything. He was. He handled GGG’s five-round, one-sided shellacking and breakdown of Proksa magnificently, finally waving things off in the fifth round.

Afterwards, Fitch told me, “Maybe it’s too early to say this, but I have a feeling I just reffed a guy who is going to go down in history as a great fighter.”

It wasn’t too early, Charlie. GGG is indeed a great fighter. The best from him is still yet to come…and it will. Golovkin, who has said he will fight from super welterweight (154 lbs.) to super middleweight (168 lbs.), now has some of boxing’s mega-fights to talk about. How about GGG against Carl Froch? Julio Cesar Chavez? Peter Quillin? Then, of course, are fights bigger than any boxing has seen in years: GGG v Andre Ward…against Miguel Cotto…and against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Against Mayweather or Cotto, let’s just select Yankee Stadium as the venue. The place will be sold out. Configured for boxing, the capacity would be around 60,000.

So, it was GGG on Saturday night who sent ’em home happy and talking of greatness and of how GGG owned the middleweight division.

Maybe GGG can become a heavyweight. Heaven knows that division could use some lifting up–especially after Saturday.

So, instead of getting two great heavyweight fights on Saturday, we got none. Instead of getting three great fights on the same night–two in New York and one in England–we got one great performance in New York and none in England.

That great performance came from a great fighter–a middleweight named Gennady. He has left us with so many possibilities that it’s mind-boggling.

The heavyweight division left us with nothing.

There may be 40 pounds between the middleweight and heavyweight divisions, but it seems like they are 40 years away.

Forty light years!

                                                                                ***

As I mentioned, don’t blame referee Harvey Dock for causing Mike Perez to lose to Bryant Jennings. What you guys don’t see is the elaborate pre-fight instructions given to each fighter in his dressing room by the referee. The ref goes over EVERYTHING. At the start of the fight, all you hear, when the fighters are brought to mid-ring, is the ref say, “Gentlemen, we went over the rules in the dressing. I expect you to obey them.” He may add a little something here or there, have the fighters touch gloves (which they do not have to do), send them back to their respective corners, get into the center of the ring, look at one fighter, turn and look at the other fighter, then look at the timekeeper and give the signal to ring the bell. He does NOT have to drop warning upon warning on them in order to take a point away. I hate to see a point taken away in the last round, but I felt the deduction was warranted. Both men knew the rules. Both men understood the rules. Then, why did Perez fall into that 12th round clinch, drive the top of his head into Jenning’s face, and punch witth his southpaw left as ref Dock repeatedly was yelling “STOP!”

I know. You’re gonna’ tell me Perez didn’t hear the command. Let me say that I heard it at ringside…and because I have spent much of my career wearing headsets, I don’t have the sharpest hearing in the world. If I heard it, Perez heard it. Then why did he head-butt Jennings? Why did he punch with the left after the command–which Dock said a few times–jarring Jenning’s mouthpiece loose? Perez didn’t lose the fight there. He lost it by his right jab-left cross-head butt and hold tactics throughout the fight. Harvey Dock is a damn good ref. He did a good job in a rough, physical fight. Perez didn’t need anybody’s help in losing the fight. He did that by himself. We can only hope he rests, searches his soul for some answers, perhaps talks to a guy like Ray Mancini, who lived through his own boxing nightmare, then either continues his boxing career with passion or moves onto another line of work with much success.

***

Lots of celebs were on hand at MSG on Saturday. Included were actors Tony Danza, Andy Karl and Margo Seibert. Karl and Seibert play the roles of Rocky Balboa and Adrian in the Broadway hit, “Rocky the Musical”…Promoter Lou DiBella has been filming a role in an upcoming movie…Prayers to former cruiserweight champion & now heavyweight contender Steve Cunningham and his wife, Livvy, as they await word–which can come at any moment–on a heart transplant operation for their daughter, Kennedy, who is 9. Kennedy was born with a condition called HLHS, which basically is a malfunctioning left ventricle. She has already undergone two heart surgery operations and now awaits a transplant. When the call comes from the hospital in Pittsburgh that a heart has been found, the Cunninghams have four hours to get Kennedy to the hospital and into surgery. They must then live in Pittsburgh for at least six months, the expected time Kennedy will be in the hospital and in follow-up care. Anyone wishing to make a donation–nothing is too big or too small–can do so by going on the internet to HeartbyFaith.com. Please help young Kennedy in any way you can.

***

BOOK NOOK: I just got “Friday Night Fighter,” the biography of Gaspar “Indio” Ortega, whose son, Mike, is currently one of the world’s top referees. Written Troy Rondinone, the book follows post-WWII boxing on TV, the “Gillette Friday Night Fights” and Ortega, who made so many appearances on those cards that his name was on the lips of every American who watched the show. Published by University of Illinois Press, you can find it in bookstores and at amazon.com. It’s a great read and tells us a lot about a great action fighter and a great family man–Gaspar Ortega.

***

Got a surprise call the other day from one of the most colorful characters in the history of boxing—Bruce The Mouse Strauss. Strauss served as an opponent for many promoters. His willingness to fight virtually anybody on a moment’s notice saved a show. His record was 77-53-6, but you can probably add on 20 more fights under assumed names. He fought in main events and undercards, against world-class fighters, future champions and local heros. He was as close to a WWE character as boxing has ever had. One time, he was stopped in Alabama. Three nights later, he was in a ring in Indiana. A reporter, who had been at the Alabama card, was also at the card in Indiana.

“Hey, weren’t you in Alabama the other night?” asked the reporter.

“No!” said Strauss. “I’m the Mouse. You saw my twin brother, Moose.”

The reporter bought it.

Mouse is doing great in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, and wants everyone to know he’s proud of localite Terence Crawford.

                                                                                 ***

Good luck to Sonya Lamonakis, the friendly voice on the phone at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, New York, as she’ll be fighting Carlette Ewell in the Caribbean this Saturday for the vacant IBO Female Heavyweight Title. The two fought to a draw two years ago in New York…Ring 8 had its yearly Summer BBQ in Glen Cove, L.I., The food was terrific and so was the turnout. Ring 8 is the largest Veteran Boxer’s Association in the world….David Berlin looks to be doing a great job in his new position as Executive Director of the New York State Athletic Commission. But have smiles been replaced by frowns. From press row, one of the writers turned and said to me, “Hey, Commish, look at that row of New York State Athletic Commission staffers. They don’t look too happy.” One glance at them showed him to be correct. Some looked almost sad. Some looked angry. Some looked indifferent. None looked happy. Smile, guys! It’s a fun job! Been there, done that!

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Artur Beterbiev: “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need”

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Russian Artur Beterbiev, triple champion of the 175-pound division, is the only current world champion who, thanks to the enormous power he wields in his fists, has won all his fights inside the distance.

Beterbiev has 18 victories by way of chloroform since he debuted as a professional fighter in June 2013 when he anesthetized retired American, Christian Cruz, in the tenth round at the Bell Center in Montreal where Beterbiev currently resides.

Beterbiev, who turned thirty-eight last Saturday, will defend his WBC, IBF, and WBO titles against Brit Anthony “The Beast from the East” Yarde (23-2, 22 KOs) on Saturday, January 28th at the OVO Arena in London.

Beterbiev obtained the WBO belt on June 18th this past year when he defeated American Joe Smith (28-4, 22 KOs) in the second round at Madison Square Garden. This was Smith’s second defense of the belt.

Earlier, in November 2017, Beterbiev won the vacant IBF belt after defeating German Enrico Koelling (28-5, 9 KOs) by knockout in the twelfth round in Fresno, California.

Two years later, Beterbiev seized the WBC belt from Ukrainian Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) in Philadelphia. Three knockdowns in the tenth round forced referee Gary Rosato to stop the lopsided bout with 11 seconds remaining in the round.  Beterbiev maintains that although his intention is to win each fight, in no way does he want to harm his rival and that his greatest wish is for both of them to leave the ring healthy.

Referring to his upcoming matchup, Beterbiev told BoxingScene that “after the fight, I just hope he (Yarde) is okay.”

He acknowledged that he does not know much about the British boxer, although he has watched several of his fights: “He’s a good fighter, has good experience as a professional and he’s a boxer. He’s dangerous so I have to prepare for this fight like I always do.”

Beterbiev said that his main motivation is to successfully defend the three belts he owns and that is why he will try to be one hundred percent ready and then it will be evident who is the better fighter.

Regarding his knockout streak, Beterbiev emphatically denied that he enjoys knocking out his opponents: “No. There’s no pleasure in it. I just hope everything is OK with them. I just want to do good boxing, not hit people.”

Beterbiev smiles enigmatically and stares at the horizon when they ask him to what he attributes the strength of his fists to. “I know for sure, 1000 percent, that the secret to my power is somewhere in my boxing gym but I don’t know exactly where,” he adds. “I don’t know which exercise or bag gave me this secret. I don’t know where it comes from. I wasn’t always like this either, it has come from working every day. But really my dream is to be a good boxer one day.”

Aside from the upcoming fight with Yarde, Beterbiev acknowledges in each interview that his goal is to be the undisputed champion of the division, which means facing (and defeating) the undefeated Russian Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs), who holds the WBA light heavyweight super championship belt.

“I need Bivol,” Beterbiev admits. “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need. I hope I fight him in 2023 but the hold-up is not from my side, it’s from their side. In the last three years he always says he will fight me next but in this time we’ve done unification fights against Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Joe Smith. We’ve done that whereas he has just been talking about it.

Beterbiev recalled that he was with Bivol on the Russian national team where they were amateurs. “I knew him then, but he is younger than me. We haven’t talked for 10 years now. He was 75kg back then, too small for me. We were never friends.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

 Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: A New Foe for Broner and an Intriguing Heavyweight Match-up

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Boxing Odds and Ends: A New Foe for Broner and an Intriguing Heavyweight Match-up

BLK Prime’s inaugural venture went off without a hitch. An announced crowd of 14,630 turned out in Omaha to watch native son Terence Crawford dismantle David Avanesyan. BLK Prime’s second promotion, slated for Feb. 25 at a 5,000-seat venue in Atlanta, has been messy from the get-go. The executives at the fledgling company, based in Hayward, California, are learning to their dismay that the sport of professional boxing is governed by Murphy’s Law: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

Adrien Broner’s nickname is “The Problem” (how perfect!) but the problem isn’t him but finding a suitable opponent for the former four-division title holder who purportedly signed a three-fight deal with BLK Prime that will pay him an absurd $10 million. As reported in a story that ran on these pages last week, Broner’s original opponent Ivan Redkach pulled out and was replaced by Hank Lundy. Today (Tuesday, Jan. 24) it was revealed that Lundy was also off the card and would be replaced by Michael Williams Jr.

Prior to being lopped off the card, it was reported that Hank Lundy had been suspended by the California Athletic Commission for failing to honor his contract to fight up-and-comer Ernesto Mercado (8-0, 8 KOs) on Feb. 4. The match was to be an 8-rounder in Ontario, California. According to prominent boxing writer Jake Donovan, Lundy provided paperwork to the California commission showing that he was unable to keep his commitment because of a cut he suffered in sparring.

Some state athletic commissions automatically honor a suspension handed down in another jurisdiction. Other commissions evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis. It’s a fair guess that had Lundy kept quiet about the (alleged) injury, the Georgia commission would have allowed the Broner-Lundy match to go forward. Regardless, he’s out and, barring more upheaval, Broner (pictured) will be touching gloves with Michael Williams Jr.

The son of an Army veteran who serves as his chief trainer, Williams Jr, 23, was born in Fort Riley, Kansas, and grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina, home to Fort Bragg. As a pro, he’s 20-1 with 13 KOs but those 20 wins came against a motley bunch of opponents and he failed miserably on the one occasion that he stepped up in class. On Dec. 11, 2021, he was stopped in four rounds by fellow unbeaten John Bauza on a Top Rank card at Madison Square Garden. Williams suffered five knockdowns before the match was halted. “He’s got a lot to work on. There are some glaring issues here,” said ringside TV commentator Andre Ward.

Although the Fayetteville area has long had a reputation as pugilistic feed lot (a place where boxers go to fatten up their records), the feeling is that Williams may have been awed by his surroundings that night in the Big Apple, hence his poor showing. During the early portion of his career, he was co-trained by Roy Jones Jr who reportedly hooked up with the young junior welterweight after witnessing him bully a bunch of ex-cons while sparring at a gym in New Orleans.

Does he have the tools to make things interesting against Adrien Broner? Likely not, but Broner tends to fight down to his level of competition, so it wouldn’t surprise us if Williams wins a few rounds.

Heavyweights at the Crossroads

SHOWTIME drops anchor in San Antonio on Feb. 11 with a card headlined by a match between Rey Vargas and O’Shaquie Foster. They will compete for the WBC 130-pound world title vacated by Shakur Stevenson.

Truth be told, this isn’t a contest that gets our juices flowing. The undefeated Vargas, who has won world titles at 122 and 127, is a solid technician but doesn’t fight with pizzazz. He hasn’t won a fight inside the distance since 2016. Foster is on a nice roll – he’s won nine straight, advancing his record to 19-2 — but likewise lacks charisma.

The pay-per-view opener, however, seized our interest. It’s that very rare contest between two rising heavyweights at the same juncture of their respective careers. On paper there’s little to choose between Viktor Faust (11-0, 7 KOs) and Lenier Pero (8-0, 5 KOs). Both are the same age (30), are roughly the same size (in the six-foot-five and 240-pound range) and were outstanding amateurs.

Faust

Viktor Faust, aka Viktor Vykhryst, is from the Ukraine. In 2017, he won the European amateur title, defeating future Olympian Frazer Clarke in the finals. He turned pro in 2020, spurning an opportunity to represent Ukraine in the Tokyo Olympics.

Faust, says prospect watcher Matt Andrzejewski, is extremely fluid for his size and his hand speed is well above average. He also has one-punch knockout power as he demonstrated in his third pro fight when he starched the Spaniard, Gabriel Enguema. However, his most recent fight on U.S. soil, a match in Hollywood, Florida, against Iago kiladze, left many questions unanswered.

This was a wild and wooly affair that ended in the second minute of the second round. Kiladze was down three times and Faust twice during the tumult. Because Kiladze was on the small size for a heavyweight, one was left wondering whether Faust could have weathered the storm if he were matched against a bigger man.

Since that scuffle, Faust has added two more wins to his ledger, comfortable 8-round decisions over 40-something gatekeepers Kevin Johnson and Franklin Lawrence.

Pero

Lenier Pero, a Cuban defector, was never an Olympian, but had a more extensive amateur career. He was 9-3 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing but what really stands out is that he was 5-1 against countryman Frank Sanchez who has made great headway as a pro since leaving Cuba in 2017 and is currently ranked #3 by the WBC and #2 by the WBO.

Although the amateur careers of Faust and Pero overlapped, their paths never crossed. However, Faust did fight Lenier’s younger brother Dainier Pero who is currently 2-0 as a pro and may actually be a better prospect than his sibling. Faust and Dainier Pero met in 2018 at a tournament in the Ukraine and the Cuban won a close decision.

Perhaps that’s an omen. Regardless, Lenier Pero looks like the right side in what has the earmarks of an entertaining shootout.

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David Benavidez and Caleb Plant Both Want ‘Canelo’ Álvarez

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American Fighter David Benavidez has been in constant pursuit of an opportunity to face Canelo Álvarez and, until now, it has been an unrealizable dream. For his compatriot Caleb Plant, his match up with Canelo in 2021 resulted in a resounding loss.

For several years, Benavidez has been trying to cross gloves with Mexican star Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs), who has avoided facing him despite receiving countless criticisms from boxing fans.

Undefeated in the ranks, everything indicates that today Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) is closer than ever to finally matching up against Canelo, the current holder of the four most prestigious super middleweight titles in boxing: WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO.

Previously, by order of the WBC, Benavidez faced Canadian David Lemieux (43-5, 36 KOs), to whom he applied chloroform in the third round in Glendale, Arizona, where the winner conquered the Interim title of that sanctioning body.

After the victory, the WBC declared that Benavidez had the obligation to collide with Caleb Plant (22-1, 13 KOs), who was ranked the number one contender by both the WBA and the WBO and third by the IBF.

According to Mauricio Sulaimán, president of the WBC, the winner between Benavidez and Plant becomes the mandatory challenger for Canelo in a battle for that organization’s belt.

However, the future seems quite complicated for the winner between Benavidez and Plant, since Canelo is currently in negotiations with British southpaw John Ryder (32-5, 18 KOs) to fight in May and, subsequently, in September, to carry out the rematch against Russian Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs), who defeated him unanimously on May 7 of last year at the T-Mobile Arena where the European retained the WBA light heavyweight belt.

Benavidez has been outspoken about Canelo’s refusal to face him: He (Canelo) knows I’m the biggest threat at 168.” Benavidez stressed the fact that Canelo avoids him because he knows that if he accepts the fight, the same thing will happen to him as against Dmitry Bivol, an adversary who is also larger and equally as strong as the Mexican redhead.

Despite the efforts and multiple statements by Benavidez (also by José Benavidez Sr, his father and trainer), Canelo has always chosen other adversaries with the excuse that Benavidez has not fought any elite rivals that would make him worthy of the opportunity.

CALEB PLANT WANTS REVENGE AGAINST CANELO

“That wasn’t my best camp going into that fight,” said Plant about last year’s battle with Canelo, “but, regardless, that’s not the reason I lost. I lost because I got caught with a great shot and I got stopped.” Plant was clear about wanting to meet Canelo in the ring again. “I want a rematch with Canelo. If I have to pick up every last top super middleweight in the division to get to that, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Canelo’s victory against Plant at the T-Mobile Arena in November 2021 made him the first boxer from Latin America with the four most important titles, in any weight category. But six months later, in May of last year, Álvarez suffered the second setback of his career, losing unanimously to Bivol who retained his WBA “super” title belt at 175 pounds.

Four years ago, on January 13, 2019, Plant won the IBF belt, unanimously defeating Venezuelan José Uzcátegui (32-5, 27 KOs) at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Uzcátegui went to the canvas in both the second and fourth rounds. Plant lost the IBF title in the unification match against Canelo, a title that Plant had defended three times prior.

Mauricio Sulaimán confirmed to several media outlets that the winner of the upcoming battle between Benavidez and Plant will be the mandatory challenger for Canelo’s WBC super-middleweight title. Per ESPN’s Mike Coppinger, Benavidez vs Plant will take place on March 25th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

 Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

To comment on this story in the fight Forum CLICK HERE

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