Ward: Canelo’s Refusal to Fight Benavidez Would Taint His Legacy

Former two-weight world champion and Hall of Famer Andre Ward believes that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez risks damaging his legacy if he refuses to eventually face David Benavidez.

Discussions between Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) and Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs) have not been successful thus far. The fighters have been unable to agree on a deal for a lucrative match in recent months, and Alvarez recently moved on to a new opponent altogether. Benavidez, Alvarez’s longtime WBC mandatory, has been yearning for an opportunity to face the undisputed champion at 168 pounds.

On Friday, Alvarez confirmed that the opponent for his traditional Cinco de Mayo fight date would be Jaime Munguia. Alvarez will defend his undisputed 168-pound championship against Munguia (43-0, 34 KOs) on May 4 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Speaking to The Breakfast Club, Ward spoke about Alvarez’s reluctance to fight Benavidez, saying a failure to meet him in the ring would be viewed by fans as a strike against Canelo’s legacy.

“Absolutely,” Ward said. “Canelo fans regularly call me a hater, but I am telling the truth.” 

Ward questioned the legitimacy of Alvarez’s resume, criticizing the timing of certain fights and the ages of certain opponents at the time of their fights with Alvarez.

“When he fought Kovalev, Kovalev was cooked. He wasn’t ‘The Krusher.’ He wasn’t the undefeated guy. He had lost that. I’m not knocking the hustle, but you lose me when you start saying, ‘I’m the best fighter in the world.’

Ward admitted that Alvarez needn’t take on a top opponent in every fight. But he said he hasn’t done enough to regularly challenge himself in order to claim status as the best boxing has to offer.

“You lose me when you don’t fight the best but you say everybody else has got to fight the best,” Ward said. “Canelo is a really good fighter, but you don’t know how good you are until you fight the other best.”