David Benavidez and Demetrius Andrade understandably would’ve preferred to challenge Canelo Alvarez next.
Fighting Alvarez affords his opponents not only career-high paydays, but also the opportunity to become boxing’s fully unified super middleweight champion. Alvarez has plans of his own, of course, which left the unbeaten Benavidez and the undefeated Andrade to pursue other options.
They each could’ve taken a different path than the risk of facing each other November 25 in Las Vegas. Benavidez (27-0, 23 KOs) opened as a 4-1 favorite according to FanDuel sportsbook, but he readily admits that Andrade is, at least on paper, the best opponent he has agreed to fight since he made his pro debut 10 years ago.
Caleb Plant (22-2, 13 KOs), whom Benavidez beat by unanimous decision in his last fight, is a skillful former IBF super middleweight champion. Andrade (32-0, 19 KOs) is a diverse southpaw, however, who has won world titles in the 154-pound and 160-pound divisions.
Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza applauded Andrade and Benavidez for accepting a fight that his network will televise as the main event of a pay-per-view show next month from Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Michelob ULTRA Arena.
“[Benavidez] is one of the most exciting fighters in the sport, all action, big puncher,” Espinoza, Showtime’s president of sports and event programming, said. “He has stopped six of his last seven opponents. But in Demetrius Andrade he’s got a very worthy opponent. Former Olympian, two-division world champion, hasn’t lost a fight in 15 years. He likes to say he is the most avoided fighter in boxing, but I think both of these guys can make that claim. And what do you do when you have two avoided fighters in the sport, and you’ve got one mega-fight lurking?
“Everybody knows the elephant in the room. Everybody wants the Canelo fight. But what I respect about these two men in this fight is they’re not waiting. They’re not sitting at home, waiting to get a phone call. They’re going out and making their case, taking tough fights, taking big challenges, taking risks, because that’s what this sport is all about. On November 25th, no one is avoiding anyone. It’s a great matchup.”
Barring a draw or a no-contest, the Benavidez-Andrade winner will strengthen his case to face Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) at some point in 2024. The loser will surrender his place as a potential opponent for the Mexican superstar, who has two fights left on his three-fight agreement with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.
Benavidez, who is the mandatory challenger for Alvarez’s WBC belt, will defend his WBC interim championship against Andrade.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.