Andre Ward wants David Benavidez or Terence Crawford for 'risk-averse' Canelo

Andre Ward believes that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has to fight David Benavidez or Terence Crawford next.

Ward, 39, retired in 2017 having by then established himself, beyond doubt, as one of the finest super middleweights in history, and also having twice defeated Sergey Kovalev, previously the world’s finest at 175lbs.

Alvarez has since succeeded him as the world’s leading super middleweight by winning the division’s undisputed title and also by defeating Kovalev at light heavyweight before more recently returning to 168lbs after a defeat by Dmitrii Bivol – an even better fighter at 175lbs than was Kovalev in 2017.

For a period the 33-year-old Alvarez was recognised as the world’s leading fighter but his defeat by Bivol and significant victories for Terence Crawford, Naoya Inoue and Oleksandr Usyk have challenged that. In 2023 he defeated John Ryder and then Jermell Charlo, but in 2024 it is fights against David Benavidez, and perhaps even Crawford – a welterweight potentially willing to move up – Ward most wants to see. 

“His legacy is already set, but what’s gonna be the excuse?” Ward, speaking to promote the publication of his book Killing The Image, told ProBox TV. “If you have the status that [Alvarez] has, and there’s somebody in your neighbourhood – at your weight class – you have to deal with him, unless you can say, ‘I’m past my prime – I’m not looking for those kind of fights’. Okay – then say that. 

“If that’s not the case, you can’t say, ‘I’m the best fighter in the world; I should be No 1 pound for pound’. There’s guys out there – that’s the problem with staying around for the long time, is there’s always gonna be another crop of guys. Even if he doesn’t wanna fight [David] Benavidez, there’s a smaller guy out there who I’d like to see him fight – Terence Crawford. You can take either one of those fights, but if you don’t fight either one of those guys, that’s a problem.”

Benavidez, 27, has long represented Alvarez’s biggest threat at super middleweight. It remains unclear whether the 36-year-old Crawford will fight Errol Spence in a rematch at 147lbs, 154lbs, or a different opponent at a heavier weight.

“[Alvarez has] done a lot for the sport,” Ward continued. “He has a lot of fanfare; he has a country [Mexico] behind him; his marketability is through the roof. The eye test, and what you see – he’s a really, really good fighter. The only problem with Canelo is that because of the marketability and because he can sell out against anybody, there’s no motivation to go and pick a couple of prime fighters to fight, and risk losing your status. 

“I haven’t seen him against the best, consistently, throughout his career, so he’s a very good fighter – I just don’t know how good he is. It’s similar with [Gennady] Golovkin. When you face a certain level of competition along the way it’s, 'Dude, you can fight’. But I don’t know how good – maybe you needed those other two or three fighters to bring out the best in you and we could have saw you at another level. That’s my only concern with Canelo. 

“He’s a really good fighter; I like his style. He loads up a lot; he could box a little bit more and hide that power a little bit more. But he’s been successful; he’s made a lot of money. I just don’t like the picking and choosing. You shouldn’t fight a top fighter every fight – that’s not smart. But when you know that there’s a guy out there – there’s a couple right now – I can’t guarantee he’s going to take those fights and risk it all.”