By Sean Jones: Teddy Atlas isn’t buying all the hype that is being dished out about Canelo Alvarez being the greatest Mexican fighter ever, and he says for him to give him the position, he’s going to have to beat David Benavidez, Artur Beterbiev and Dimitry Bivol.
Canelo (55-1-2, 37 KOs) hasn’t indicated whether he’s going to fight any of those guys, and he may avoid all three for the remainder of his career.
From the fighters that Canelo has faced during his 15-year professional career, Atlas says he doesn’t feel that he’s faced good enough opposition to consider him the best Mexican fighter.
The problem Canelo has is he’s faced many older fighters like Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Gennadiy Golovkin, and he’s not taken the fights that he should have.
Past Mexican greats like Salvador Sanchez, Carlos Zarate, Erik Morales, and Juan Manuel Marquez fought the best repeatedly. Are we seeing that from Canelo? Well, his last fight was against Avni Yildirim, so what does that tell you?
Atlas wants Canelo to run the gauntlet and take some real risks by facing the best, not just belt holders that he plans on facing in 2021 in his unification matches against Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant at 168.
Canelo should fight Benavidez, Beterbiev & Bivol
“To me, the stiffest test at 168 is Benavidez if he [Canelo] really wants to [be the best], that would be the stiffest test,” said Teddy Atlas to The Fight with Teddy Atlas. “Benavidez, he’s the most dangerous. He’s 23-0.
“He’s the most dangerous and physically challenging of all of them. If he [Canelo] beats him at 168, then he really captured them at 168, for me.
“Those guys [Caleb Plant and Billy Joe Saunders] might be a little bit technically better, they might be. Benavidez is bigger, stronger, he’s more dangerous.
“But if he [Canelo] wants to be considered, and I’ll jump right on board, I won’t even need pom-poms, I won’t even need them.
“If he wants to be considered the greatest Mexican fighter of all time, let him go up to light heavyweight because he’s already been there, he’s already passed through, let him go back, and let him beat [Artur] Beterbiev and [Dimitry] Bivol,” said Atlas.
We saw what happened when Canelo went up to challenge for a world title at 175 in 2019.
He picked arguably the weakest of the light heavyweight belt-holders in a badly shopworn Sergey Kovalev rather than facing IBF/WBC champ Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) or WBA champion Dimitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs). Then he fled the division quickly rather than facing them.
Was Canelo an opportunist [AKA cherry-picker] by selecting Kovalev rather than Beterbiev or Bivol to fight for a title at 175? Why didn’t Canelo stay around to fight those two champions to show the boxing public that he’s not a calculated opportunist?
It would be great if Canelo did take on Beterbiev, Bivol, and Benavidez, but it doesn’t seem realistic at this point that he’ll dare to fight any o them.
I mean, former WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez (23-0, 20 KOs) openly says that he thinks Canelo is afraid of him, and a lot of boxing fans are in agreement with him.
Benavidez is clearly the best fighter at 168, bar none, and it doesn’t matter that he’s not holding a title at the moment. He’s unbeaten, and he’s the most dangerous guy in the super middleweight division.
That’s the guy Canelo should be facing, but he’s not even mentioning his name.
Instead, Alvarez is going after the paper champions Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) and Caleb Plant (21-0, 12 KOs), both of which are weak punchers and have beaten no one of note.
Will Alvarez dare to face Beterbiev?
“You know what? I’m still going to say that you can argue here and there, but I won’t argue so hard,” Atlas said about him not arguing against Canelo as being the best if he beats Beterbiev, Bivol, and Benavidez.
“I’m not arguing against Canelo, I’m not. I’m arguing for these other guys to be remembered that we shouldn’t skip over that’s out there. That’s what I’m arguing for.
“Quell your emotions, I understand it, we’re emotional people. I get it. If you’re going to go and make that kind of statement on television, and it’s going to spread more and more now as the strain moves down the track, this Canelo train.
“It’s going to take more and more momentum and more and more steam because it’s the greatest Mexican. That’s what they’re going to sell because they’re not selling the opponent so much, they’re selling Canelo.
“So they’re going to bring that. All I’m saying is, take a chill pill a little bit, a tiny bit.
“Calm down for a moment, and appreciate who else is there when you make that statement [Canelo being the greatest Mexican fighter ever].
“That’s what I’m saying. But if you go and beat Beterbiev and Bivol, I won’t argue with you anymore. I still might say Salvador Sanchez is my favorite.
“We always have the right to say that or Cesar Chavez or some of these guys I mentioned before. But I will have no argument, no problem if you want to say that Canelo is the greatest.
“Hey, you’re allowed to. It’s sayable, but it’s sellable, it’s sayable. It’s believable; it’s okay to say,” said Atlas.
It’s pretty clear by now that Canelo WON’T fight Beterbiev or Bivol, as we’ve already heard that his trainer Eddy Reynoso doesn’t want him to be fighting at 175.
You can argue that Canelo would gain more from fighting Beterbiev or Bivol than he will from becoming the undisputed champion in 2021.
The reason for that is because Canelo would likely be the underdog against Beterbiev and Bivol instead of the favorite, which is what he’s expected to be against Plant and Saunders.
Canelo’s resume doesn’t stack up with the greats
“Let’s go over quickly who Canelo has fought and beat to get to this place,” said Atlas. “He’s been fighting since he was 16, and he’s still young, he’s only 30.
“He’s been around for 15 years as a pro, and he’s got 58 fights. Alright, he lost to the best fighter he’s fought. I don’t think we can argue that, Mayweather, and it wasn’t competitive.
“I know everyone loses. He moved up and won a light heavyweight title, and that’s great. I’m giving him kudos for that.
“He won a light heavyweight title against an older, shopworn [Sergey] Kovalev. But nice job, nice win.
“It was still something to deal with, no doubt about it. He struggled or at least he had a tough fight right Danny Jacobs, but he won.
“He officially fought in a draw and won against GGG, although I thought he lost both fights, and a lot of people thought the same thing. but okay.
“He beat a smaller, shopworn Miguel Cotto by a decision. He struggled with [Erislandy] Lara, people forget that.
“A lot of people thought he lost that fight. A southpaw Lara, slick guy. He beat a smaller and older Shane Mosley. He beat Austin Trout, who usually loses at that next or has lost at that next level.
“These are the best opponents he’s fought. Nothing to be ashamed of, but when you compare to these past Mexican champions.
“Here we go, I’m going to do right down the list. I’m not going by the order of greatness, this is just a list.
- Julio Cesar Chavez
- Ruben Olivares
- Salvador Sanchez
- Baby Arizmendi
- Carlos Zarate
- Vicente Saldivar
- Manuel Ortiz
- Ricardo Lopez Jr
- Raul (Raton) Macias
- Rodolfo ‘Baby’ Casanova
- Juan Marquez
- Erik Morales
- Marco Antonio Barrera
“Some of these commentators want to anoint Canelo without knowing the entire field that exists. Canelo is great; I’m not disputing that,” said Atlas.
The fighters that Atlas lists as having done more in their careers than Canelo have one thing in common. They were willing to fight the best, and they didn’t cherry-pick, avoid great fighters or wait until their opponents were old before they agreed to fight them.
Also, they didn’t try and gain an advantage by using catch weights or rehydration limits.