Down at the Chicken Ranch
By Richard E. Baker on January 23, 2021
For Canelo to fight Yildirim is like Germany declaring war on Monaco. (Photo: Courtesy)
“Canelo’s chicken to fight Benavidez,” said Anthony Hunter, former trainer of Tim Puller and Angelo Torres. “I never took him for a coward, but lately he won’t fight any decent fighter, not one that will give him a challenge.”
Hunter, like many boxing fans, is not happy. He leans against the chipped wooden door of his former gym, a hint of light dimpling the heavy bag in the distance. “I always thought he would be one of the greats. You can’t be great if you don’t fight the best and Benavidez is currently the best super-middleweight in the world.”
Hunter, now retired, still enjoys a decent fight. He is not getting his money’s worth when Canelo fights. “What happened to his guts? I think he just wants to collect an easy paycheck.”
As commentator Kelsey McCarson said, Benavidez “is one of the most aggressive and scariest fighters in the business.” Reason enough for Canelo not to want the fight. Canelo has many excuses to not fight, like not wanting to fight another Mexican boxer. If he does not want to fight another Mexican boxer—he doesn’t want to fight.
Even the fans are getting disappointed. Boxing bookseller Jerry Culpepper sat in his easy chair, a cup of coffee in one hand, and said, “There is no reason to even watch his fights any more. You know he is going to win. Winning is OK if you have to work for it. A win like that gives you pride. His recent wins are nothing except disappointments. Benavidez is the most exciting boxer in the division. If Canelo wanted to show his dominance, that’s who he would fight.”
“You have a guy at 168 in Benavidez who wants all of the smoke, but Canelo won’t fight him,” said Timothy Bradley.
Canelo looked terrible against Sergey Kovalev, an over-the-hill party animal and stationary target who throws punches at the speed of light—candlelight. Canelo was lucky to knock him out. He then fought Callum Smith, not exactly a household word except in British pubs. Smith, who had just come off a very grueling fight, gave Canelo all the fight he could handle. Now he is up against Avni Yildirim, from Turkey. And the fight will do more than lay an egg, it will be a real turkey.
Bradley thinks so little of the fight that he says he is not going to watch it. “Yildirim should get knocked out by round six.”
Yildirim lost to Chris Eubank Jr., a better than average fighter, but not great, and to Anthony Dirrell who Benavidez made into a fool as he smacked him from corner to corner like a pinball. One of Yildirim’s most recent fights was a win over Jose Silvencia, a boxing powerhouse with 3 wins and 31 loses. There is nothing like facing the best.
“The only problem I have with Alvarez,” said Bradley, “he's not fighting the best guys right now. He's winning these belts, challenging guys in different weight classes.” But “Canelo won't fight Benavidez.”
After Yildirim should come Billy Joe Saunders, a good-looking kid who has only fought other Brits. For Canelo to fight him is like Germany declaring war on Monaco.
“There's always talk about how these (top) guys don't really want the fight, or how the money isn't right, or how they haven't fought enough 'names' to be worthy of the shot, but come on. Stop it,” said Bradley. “It's just a way to avoid a fighter and a fight you don't want.”
Yes, come on, Canelo; what top guys has Saunders fought? Maybe you have him confused with Billy Joel, the singer. He might at least put up a better fight. Or, you could man-up and fight Benavidez, a real contender.