Benavidez says he’s not waiting around for Canelo

Boxing

MIAMI — David Benavidez sat on the ring apron at the downtown BOXR Gym and wrapped his hands — just because the Canelo Alvarez fight he’s pushed so hard to land seems farther away than ever, doesn’t mean the work stops.

Alvarez has long said Benavidez (and other fighters) must earn a shot at boxing’s top star, and there’s no doubt following his breakthrough campaign last year that Benavidez did exactly that. He brutalized Caleb Plant in a March decision victory and followed with a sixth-round TKO victory over Demetrius Andrade in November.

The calls for an Alvarez-Benavidez matchup for the former’s undisputed super middleweight championship have grown louder and louder. It’s arguably the biggest fight in all of boxing. But following Monday’s news that Alvarez has split with PBC with two bouts remaining on the deal, it’s clear a Benavidez matchup won’t materialize this year, if ever.

“His actions speak a lot of words,” Benavidez, 27, told ESPN on Thursday. “This was the biggest fight … so him parting ways with PBC, even though this fight for me and him was on the table … it just speaks volumes. I’m not going to be waiting on Canelo. After I fight Canelo, my career doesn’t end.

“It’s frustrating, but it gives me a bad name at the end of the day, too. … The reason why this fight is not happening is because Canelo doesn’t want it to happen, plain and simple.”

Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs) has long been aligned with PBC, while Alvarez signed with Al Haymon in June, giving fans hope the two would meet. Instead, Alvarez decisively outpointed Jermell Charlo in September and will now fight for a different promoter in May and likely September, too.

“I mean the money is there, the anticipation from the fight fans is there,” said Benavidez, a volume-puncher who possesses perhaps the sport’s best motor. “It would be an amazing event. … I don’t need Canelo. I mean the only reason people fight Canelo is for a payday. I don’t care about money. I care about winning titles and giving the fans the best fights possible.”

To that end, Benavidez said he was willing to accept $5 million with no pay-per-view upside to share the ring with Alvarez. Plant earned approximately $10 million for his November 2021 loss to Alvarez while Billy Joe Saunders made $8 million earlier that year.

“The thing I cared about was the opportunity because I know once I beat him, then that’s when the money comes,” said Benavidez, ESPN’s No. 2 boxer at 168 pounds. “These are the sacrifices you have to take. … PBC and Al Haymon have been paying me really good for a really long time. So I’m very happy with them.”

For now, Benavidez is moving on with a jump to 175 pounds for a June bout against former champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk, who has scored three wins over domestic-level opposition following a retirement that kept the 36-year-old Ukrainian out of the ring for more than three years.

“The Mexican Monster” hopes a win over Gvozdyk leads to a showdown with the June 1 winner of Artur Beterbiev-Dmitry Bivol for the undisputed light heavyweight championship. Benavidez said he’s “definitely going to come back down” to super middleweight, where a matchup with David Morrell is highly anticipated by fans.

And if Benavidez is going to face Morrell, he said the WBA and WBC titles must be on the line. Alvarez holds all four belts at 168 pounds; Benavidez is the WBC’s interim titleholder while Morrell owns the WBA’s secondary belt.

“I’m really motivated right now,” he said. “I’m really, really disciplined right now and I’m very excited for the future. So I’m just taking it one step at a time, getting better in the gym every single day and I’m going to be ready for whatever comes my way.”

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