David Benavidez still has his sights on Canelo Alvarez after his punishing win over Caleb Plant on March 25, but the super middleweight contender isn’t putting all his eggs in one basket, and says there are other big options and big fights to be made at 168.
Speaking with The DAZN Boxing Show, Benavidez said that both Jermall Charlo and David Morrell Jr are viable options, what with Canelo reportedly still focused on a potential Dmitry Bivol rematch in September, following Canelo’s return on May 6 against John Ryder.
“If he wants to go with Bivol, then I think what’s going to happen is, maybe — because I’ve been the mandatory for the past three fights for the WBC belt, I think maybe he’ll get stripped of that, and I was hearing some talk saying he might get stripped of the WBA belt, too, if he doesn’t accept a fight with me,” Benavidez said.
“If he doesn’t get in the ring, it might be me versus David Morrell or me versus Charlo for the WBC and WBA belt. So even if you take Canelo out of the equation, these are still huge fights for me. This is still my dream I’m chasing after. The WBA belt is a belt I’ve never had. I want to get the WBC back again so I’ll be three-time world champion.
“That’s really all I’m in it for, I’m looking for these belts. There’s big things on the way.”
Here’s more of what Benavidez said in one of the most honest and realistic boxing interviews you’re likely to come across this year.
On Mike Tyson coining “Mexican Monster”
“The only reason I took that name is because of Mike Tyson. When a legend gives you a name, it’s smart to stay with the name that legend gave you, especially someone like Mike Tyson. The people responded really well with it so I just stayed with it.”
On his win over Caleb Plant
“I have a lot of respect for Caleb Plant. We went in there, we settled our beef like men, we gave the fans a great fight. He was tough. I knew he wasn’t gonna have too much punching power; honestly, I thought he was going to be a little bit faster.
“In the first six rounds, you guys kinda seen me a little hesitant, it was my first big fight, first pay-per-view, I wasn’t trying to make any mistakes. But after I really started getting my engine going, I was catching him with some body shots in, like, the fourth round. I caught him with a right hook to the body and I think that changed the trajectory of the fight.
“This is a 12-round fight, these are championship fights, you don’t win the fight with six rounds. I knew me, my power, when my engine starts going, I start to flow a little bit better, and that’s what happened.”
On the beef with Plant being settled
“Honestly, I felt (the animosity) go away right after the bell. I kinda went around the ring, then he extended his hand and we shook hands. We left everything in the ring, there’s no reason to drag it out more than that. We did exactly what we said we were gonna do. I said I was gonna beat his ass, I did, but after that, I don’t want no beef toward nobody. I’m just happy with the way it ended.”
On what’s looking likely for his next fight
“What I’ve been hearing right now, obviously the one fight everybody wants is Canelo. I think I earned it, but if he wants to go with Bivol, then I think what’s going to happen is, maybe — because I’ve been the mandatory for the past three fights for the WBC belt, I think maybe he’ll get stripped of that, and I was hearing some talk saying he might get stripped of the WBA belt, too, if he doesn’t accept a fight with me.
“If he doesn’t get in the ring, it might be me versus David Morrell or me versus (Jermall) Charlo for the WBC and WBA belt. So even if you take Canelo out of the equation, these are still huge fights for me. This is still my dream I’m chasing after. The WBA belt is a belt I’ve never had. I want to get the WBC back again so I’ll be three-time world champion. ... That’s really all I’m in it for, I’m looking for these belts. There’s big things on the way.”
On whether or not he thinks Jermall Charlo would take the fight
“I think it would be in his best interests to take the fight. Obviously we gave a huge fight, me and Caleb Plant, so me and Charlo would kind of be the same, but it would be a different fight because it would be two power punchers going at it. I think that fight would be even more entertaining than me versus Caleb Plant.
“If he’s really a man about boxing, really cares about his fans, he’ll take this fight. If he doesn’t, then we go with Morrell.”
On whether Morrell or Charlo is the better fighter
“To be honest with you, it might be David Morrell, because he’s more of a natural super middleweight. I think the one who has a little more experience is Charlo. But they’re both good, they’re both really good.”
On having more motivation to train now
“I’m actually about to head back to the gym after we’re done with the interview. It’s just something about this magnitude of fights that took me to a different level of motivation. I had a whole week off after I fought Caleb Plant, honestly, the whole week I was just thinking about boxing, thinking about boxing. I’m just excited to keep proving the doubters wrong.”
On David Morrell Jr as a fighter
“He’s a great fighter. I’ve got nothing to take away from him. He’s a really good fighter, a dangerous fighter, he’s (from) the Cuban school of boxing. Me, as a fighter, as a competitor, I want to challenge myself against these great fighters. Since I got this first pay-per-view fight, I really want to be a pay-per-view star in the future. For that to happen, I’ve got to take these tough fights and I’ve got to really show the people I am the best.
“I don’t think you become a pay-per-view star just by getting big fights. You have to look impressive and give the people what they want to see, and that’s a great fight. I gave Caleb Plant a great fight. I didn’t really take too much damage in there, but I didn’t have to dig deep enough — not deep enough, but there’s, like, another level. I know I can still dig deeper. I didn’t get in trouble in that fight at all, but it’s gonna happen one day or another. You’re gonna get put in these situations where you have to dig deep, and I know the best will come out of me. I’m just waiting for that moment to happen and I know I will shine.”
On not yet feeling like a pay-per-view star
“I gotta be realistic. I feel like you can’t, just with one fight, I can’t say, ‘I’m a pay-per-view star, I call the shots.’ I’m not dumb like that. I really see it for how it is. I gotta put in the work, I gotta show the people that with me, you guys get great fights all the time. It doesn’t matter if I fight David Morrell, Charlo, whatever, I want the people to see that we gotta buy this guy’s fight, because it’s gonna be a great fight like when he fought Caleb Plant. That’s what we’re gonna do.”
On whether Charlo or Morrell is a bigger PPV fight
“Jermall is the bigger one, because we already have history. It’s basically like me and Caleb Plant, there’s so many years of build-up and shit-talking that will make the fight interesting. Charlo’s very vocal, and like I showed you guys, I’m not gonna let nobody talk to me no way I don’t like, so I’m gonna be very vocal, too. But I’m just defending myself at the end of the day.”
On whether he’d fight Bivol at 168 lbs if Bivol moved down
“Oh, yeah, definitely. Especially if he takes all the (super middleweight) belts from Canelo. I let the belts lead me, that’s the way I’m going. I really don’t care about money. I’ve always thought that if you do your job right, the money comes on its own. But we’re looking for glory. By the time I’m finished I want to be multiple champion at multiple weight classes.”
On the potential of moving to 175
“Yeah, I want to go up to 175 soon. I’m just staying around for two or three more fights, then we’re going up to 175. If we can make the fights happen with Charlo, Canelo, and then David Morrell, that’s really the only thing I want from this weight class, and then I go up.”
On a potential Diego Pacheco vs Edgar Berlanga fight
“Honestly, I think Diego knocks him out. I’ve been working with Diego for a long, long time. I think he just turned 21 or 22, he’s still such a young guy, it shocks me how young he is. But I see him. He’s working extremely hard. He lasts a lot of rounds in there with me, he was my main sparring partner when I was working for Caleb Plant. He’s a tough guy and he’s learning a lot, so I do think he knocks Berlanga out.”
On being a sort of mentor to younger fighters
“It means a lot to me to give back to my peers and teammates like that. Sometimes it’s not all about money, sometimes it’s about leading the direction. I made a lot of mistakes, I tell these guys you gotta be careful about the stuff you do, because everybody’s watching you. I try to play that big brother part and just lead these guys in the right direction. If they’re messing up and not training, I tell them, ‘Hey, bro, you guys gotta get your shit together, you guys gotta train, because if you’re not training hard, somebody else that’s in your same spot will try to take your spot.’ I try to do that.”
On whether he’d want to fight Canelo without a belt
“Yeah, I mean, if Canelo wins or loses, I feel like Canelo’s still going to be a big draw, not only because of the money but because he’s a legend. I feel like the people who share the ring with him are grateful because there’s fighters from certain eras you’re always gonna remember. Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, Canelo. For you to really challenge yourself and be at the top of your game, you have to face somebody like that. Like how he was for his generation, I want to be that for my generation. I want to be a top fighter, and I think that’s not gonna happen unless I showcase my skills against Canelo Alvarez.”
On whether he belongs in the P4P top 10
“I think if I fight David Morrell or Charlo and win two more belts, I think that’s when I — I’m a man about rankings, I respect that stuff a lot. ... Right now, after the fight with Caleb Plant, I don’t think so, but after Morrell or Charlo, if I win two more belts, then yeah.”
“I just try to be real to myself and all the great fighters in front of me. Everybody has to earn their shot and earn their spot, and that’s what I’m trying to do right now.”
On Demetrius Andrade
“I definitely am interested in a fight, but what I’ve been noticing with these guys — I’m a big 168 lber, I feel like especially now after fighting Caleb Plant, these guys really don’t have nothing to keep me off of them. I think if I fight Demetrius Andrade, it’d be the same thing as I did to Caleb Plant. They can move around really good for the first couple rounds, but my training camps are crazy. I’ll be in there four months, I’ll be sparring 20 rounds, this is what I do. I’m not gonna get tired. I pride myself in that, I’m not gonna get tired.”
On being surprised that he didn’t stop Plant
“I’m not surprised, but looking at the fight, I’m a little disappointed. The only reason I didn’t stop him is because of stuff on my end. I need to work on a little more foot movement, that’s all it is. And then, too, fucking it up was the referee. He kept warning me for Caleb Plant hugging and all this type of shit. I just need to work on my foot movement a little bit, that’s the key.”