By: Hans Themistode
After fighting at middleweight for several years and outside of making a brief, yet successful cameo at light heavyweight, Canelo Alvarez has officially found a home at 168 pounds.
The four-division titlist made his latest ring appearance this past weekend as he handed previously undefeated Callum Smith a one-sided beating. The win for Alvarez not only netted him the WBC/Ring magazine titles, but it also reinforced the belief of trainer Abel Sanchez that Canelo Alvarez will go virtually unmatched in his new division.
Whether it’s a possible showdown with IBF titlist Caleb Plant or a contest against WBO belt holder Billy Joe Saunders, Sanchez will consistently back Alvarez. However, there is someone out there who he does believe could and would give the pound for pound star all that he could handle.
“There’s only one guy at that weight that can get an upset against Canelo,” said Sanchez on Fight Hub TV. “That’s a young man named David Benavidez. That is the cream of the crop at that weight right there other than Canelo. The only guy that I think can give Canelo fits is David Benavidez.”
The thoughts of Sanchez don’t simply come from an outsider’s perspective. As the former trainer of IBF middleweight titlist Gennadiy Golovkin, Sanchez was given a close look at what the now 24-year-old was capable of. While Golovkin is best known for destroying his competition, his preparation in large part was aided by a young Benavidez.
“I had him in camp sparring with Golovkin at a very young age. Probably the best sparring I ever had for Golovkin and this young man was still an amateur. Was three or four years from turning pro. I’ve seen him spar with guys at the Wild Card Gym, seasoned guys and it was easy for him. If he was doing that back then, imagine now. He’s a much better fighter today.”
Sanchez, of course, cornered Golovkin in back to back fights against Alvarez. A controversial draw in 2017 and a more definitive split decision loss, the first of Golovkin’s career. While Sanchez was once hesitant to name Alvarez as the best fighter in the world several years ago, now however, he has no issue stating that the Mexican product is in fact on top of his pound-for-pound charts.
Still, his high placement in the mind of Sanchez doesn’t mean he’s unbeatable. It would simply take a special fighter to do so. A description he believes Benavidez fits perfectly.
“I think Benavidez gives anybody that he fights fits. Not just because of his defensive ability but he’s able to switch gears so easily. He’ll lay on the ropes and mess around. All of a sudden he’ll put it in another gear and he’ll become a different fighter. He’s the only fighter I believe could give Canelo real problems.”