LOS ANGELES – Floyd Mayweather commended Canelo Alvarez on Thursday, but he also called out the Mexican superstar for avoiding David Benavidez.
Mayweather criticized Alvarez for his interest in moving up two more divisions to challenge WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu in his next fight. The retired legend would rather watch Alvarez defend his four super middleweight titles against the unbeaten Benavidez, a former WBC 168-pound champion.
Like Mayweather and his promotional company, Benavidez is aligned with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.
“Canelo a hell of a fighter,” Mayweather told a group of reporters after a press conference at JW Marriott LA Live to promote the Gervonta Davis-Isaac Cruz fight Sunday night at Staples Center. “But my personal opinion, he’s ducking Benavidez. You know, it’s just my personal opinion. And I’m allowed to speak my mind. That’s just what it is. He’s going up to cruiserweight. And I’m not knocking him, but he’s going up to cruiserweight and that same guy [Makabu] was at, he used to be at the Mayweather Boxing Gym, and the guys were really getting the best of him in the Mayweather Boxing Gym.
“So, if he’s going up to quote, unquote cruiserweight, I mean, if that’s the case, Benavidez is gonna go up and beat that same guy. He could beat that same guy at 168. So, he’s not doing nothing, you know, like I said before. But when you are put in a certain position, he should be, I mean, he’s able to like me, you know, when I was in a position, I can pick and choose who I want to, because I earned that right. But do I like this fight? Uh-uh. Absolutely not. We wanna see Benavidez. Let’s make it happen.”
The 34-year-old Makabu (28-2, 25 KOs), a hard-hitting southpaw from The Democratic Republic of The Congo, is tentatively scheduled to make a mandated defense of his WBC belt against South African southpaw Thabiso Mchunu (23-5, 13 KOs) in a 12-round rematch January 29 at Packard Music Hall in Warren, Ohio.
The 31-year-old Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) is not contractually tied to a promoter, a network or a streaming service.
He worked with Haymon’s PBC for the first time in his career November 6 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, where he knocked out former IBF super middleweight champ Caleb Plant (21-1, 12 KOs) in the 11th round to become boxing’s first fully unified 168-pound champion. If Alvarez were to work with Haymon’s company again for his next fight early in May, WBC middleweight champ Jermall Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs) and Benavidez (25-0, 22 KOs) would be his highest-profile options.
The Guadalajara native told Showtime’s Brian Custer during an episode of his podcast prior to stopping Plant that he would prefer to fight Charlo over Benavidez. Houston’s Charlo would have to move up from the middleweight limit of 160 pounds to 168 for a shot at Alvarez, boxing’s biggest active star.
Eddy Reynoso, Alvarez’s trainer and manager, successfully petitioned the WBC at its annual convention last month to sanction an Alvarez-Makabu bout for Makabu’s belt. Alvarez has not decided, though, who he will fight next.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.