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The Big Question: Should Caleb Plant fight David Benavidez before approaching Canelo?

Caleb Plant has a clear path to an undisputed title fight right now, but should he take one big risk and gamble on himself?

Brett Carlsen and Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Last week’s big question was about Canelo Alvarez’s pursuit of the undisputed super middleweight championship, and this week’s will stick to the same topic, kind of, but let’s talk last week’s results.

We asked then simply if Canelo will become undisputed champ at 168 pounds in 2021. Some of you sort of missed the spirit of the question, but that’s OK, life takes all sorts.

63 percent said Canelo will collect all four belts by the end of the year, 26 percent said he won’t get both of the fights necessary to do so this year. That leaves 12 percent who think he’ll get both fights but lose one of them. Eight percent say Billy Joe Saunders will beat Canelo, which is already on tap for May 8 provided Canelo beats Avni Yildirim on Feb. 27, though Yildirim is no robot anymore, apparently. Four percent feel Caleb Plant will beat Canelo.

Let’s stick with Plant this week. Since his Jan. 30 win over Caleb Truax, Plant (21-0, 12 KO) has been the topic of much discussion. With the IBF belt, he’s currently in possession of the last piece Canelo will need to go undisputed, or even try, and that’s two fights away for Alvarez at the very least. It could certainly happen between September and December this year, the path is there. And that sort of break from action, if Plant took it, wouldn’t be crazy or anything, not terribly unusual for fighters.

But there is another question, and it involves former two-time WBC titlist David Benavidez. Like Plant, Benavidez is a PBC fighter. The two have sniped back-and-forth on social media and in interviews for quite a while, long before this specific thing was an issue.

Benavidez (23-0, 20 KO) is currently set to fight on Mar. 13 against Ronald Ellis, which figures to be a stay-busy sort of outing more than a hugely dangerous test, at least if Benavidez takes it seriously.

Benavidez has twice held the WBC title, as mentioned before, and twice been stripped, once for failing a drug test (positive for cocaine), and last year for missing weight for a scheduled defense against Roamer Alexis Angulo.

In short, Benavidez could have already been in this Canelo discussion. The natural path then would probably be Canelo-Saunders for the WBA and WBO, Benavidez-Plant for the WBC and IBF, and then the winners meet later this year.

But he isn’t, and in both cases he can’t blame anyone but himself. Benavidez is chirping trying to get Plant in the ring for obvious reasons — he would like a title fight, he would like the chance to himself move on for a Canelo super-fight after — but Plant has expressed no interest.

The WBC, despite stripping Benavidez twice, do have the fighter still ranked as their No. 1 contender. Plant feels this sort of thing is Benavidez skipping the line, which it is, though Benavidez will not get a forced fight with Canelo this year. The IBF, for what it’s worth, do not have Benavidez in their top 15 contenders, but sanctioning body rankings can always change, and they’re never good in the first place so whatever.

So here’s the question: do YOU think Plant should take the gamble on a Benavidez fight, possibly this summer, before potentially fighting Canelo late in the year?

I can see reasons to do it and reasons to not. The reasons to not are simple, chiefly that as things stand now, Plant has a Canelo bag more or less secured. If Canelo loses to Billy Joe Saunders in May, for instance, then Plant can fight Benavidez or someone else at that point, the whole game we’re talking about changes for everyone, and dramatically. Suddenly Billy Joe Saunders would be The Man, whole different world.

The reasons to do it are there, too. Eddie Hearn, who has no stake in either fighter, said he’d like to see Plant fight Benavidez so that Plant could have the chance to make a Canelo fight even bigger. Whether or not beating Benavidez ups Plant’s profile much beyond the sort of people who would already buy a Canelo-Plant PPV is debatable, as it’s not like Benavidez is some star attraction, but for those dedicated fans at the very least, it could certainly up the idea that Plant could be a legitimate problem for Alvarez.

Pros and cons, cons and pros. What do you say? SHOULD Plant fight Benavidez ahead of the potential Canelo bout? Is it worth the gamble from Plant to bet on himself in what would be the biggest test of his career to date? Or has Benavidez simply played himself out of this conversation for 2021?


Should Caleb Plant fight David Benavidez ahead of a Canelo bout?

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