The sport of boxing doesn’t receive a significant amount of air time when it comes to sports debate shows, but due to the Canelo rumors, boxing was a hot button topic on the ESPN morning show First Take.
The host Stephen A. Smith is one of the biggest sports television personalities in the world. Smith is also a fan of boxing, and he is very upset in regards to the rumors that are circulating through the media.
Back in June 2023 the undisputed super-middleweight world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez signed a three fight deal with PBC. At the time, the move generated excitement from boxing fans due to the fact that Canelo’s WBC mandatory David Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs) also fights under the PBC umbrella.
With both Canelo and Benavidez signed to the same promotional company, fight fans assumed that the potential mega fight between the two would be part of Canelo’s three fight deal. The deal got off to an awkward start as Alvarez faced the 154-pound undisputed world champion Jermell Charlo.
In the junior-middleweight division Jermell Charlo reigned supreme, but it seemed odd that he was able to move up two divisions, leapfrog the top contenders at 168, and fight for the undisputed super-middleweight crown. On fight night Jermell Charlo didn’t try to win, he came to survive, and that’s exactly what he did as he loss by way of unanimous decision.
Now fight number two of Canelo’s PBC deal is on the horizon and some disturbing rumors are circulating. Multiple media outlets are reporting that Canelo will fight WBC 160-pound world champion Jermall Charlo in May and the undisputed 147-pound champion Terence “Bud” Crawford in September.
If these rumors are true, this means Canelo will complete his three fight deal without facing his mandatory challenger David Benavidez. Alvarez successfully avoided Benavidez in 2022, he avoided him again in 2023, and now he has a path to duck his mandatory for a third straight year in 2024.
The news of this potential ducking path infuriated Stephen A. Smith. After hearing the rumors, Smith proceeded to use his platform to give his take on what is expected to transpire.
“I’m pretty pissed off. I’m very very pissed off about this. I don’t like it at all, Smith said. “First of all Charlo, and I’m assuming this is the natural middleweight Charlo, not the Charlo Canelo just beat. This guy openly, I root for him Shannon Sharpe, I truly do, but he’s had some personal issues which is why he’s been away from the boxing game for so many years.”
Smith proceeded to air out more of his frustration as he spoke about how Canelo continues to pick and choose undeserving opponents while his mandatory challenger remains on the outside looking in.
“Canelo Alvarez, how many fights are you going to have before you avoid giving Benavidez the chance he so richly deserves?” Smith asked. “I’m really ticked off about it. It ain’t right! It ain’t right!”
Shannon Sharpe chimed in and he touched on how Canelo’s career is being guided from a business perspective. Sharpe also talked about why Jermall Charlo is receiving the opportunity to fight Canelo.
“David Benavidez deserves to fight Canelo, but Canelo doesn’t want to fight him because he knows there is a greater chance of him losing versus Benavidez versus bigger Charlo.”
When it comes down to the subject of fighting Benavidez, the undisputed super-middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez keeps an excuse on deck. Back in September 2022 Canelo said he didn’t want to fight Mexican fighters because he represents Mexico.
We now know that what Canelo said back then isn’t true due to the fact that Canelo’s team reached out to Mexican super-middleweight contender Jaime Munguia in regards to a potential bout. Prior to his match with John Ryder, Jaime Munguia admitted that Canelo’s team called his team.
Most of Canelo’s supporters justify his actions by stating Canelo is doing what Floyd Mayweather did at the tale end of his career. It sounds good, but the big difference is the fact that Mayweather didn’t have a mandatory opponent that he ducked for two plus years.
David Benavidez is an extremely talented boxer who’s hand speed and work rate could give Canelo some major problems. Instead of stepping up to the challenge and accepting the high risk fight that everyone wants to see, Canelo continues to try to find the easy way out, and Stephen A. Smith doesn’t like it.
“It would be one thing to avoid him for a fight or two, but when you are literally cherry picking one after another, after another, numerous fights where you are passing up David Benavidez, it is a travesty! It is a travesty that this fight hasn’t happened yet.”