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WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman Refuses To Order Canelo Alvarez Vs. David Benavidez

WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman Refuses To Order Canelo Alvarez Vs. David Benavidez featured image
WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman will not be ordering a fight between undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez and WBC interim champion David Benavidez any time soon, despite it being well within their capability. (Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the WBC, has indicated Canelo Alvarez will not be pressured to fight his mandatory challenger in David Benavidez. In an attempt to clearly move the goalpost, Sulaiman revealed that Benavidez would become the WBC mandatory challenger in March, despite Benavidez having attained that position twice in 2023 when he defeated Caleb Plant and Demetrius Andrade in successive matches.

David Benavidez (28-0, 24 KO’s) was already supposed to be the mandatory after defeating Caleb Plant (22-2, 13 KO’s) on May 25th, as had been decided in the 2022 WBC annual convention where the winner between Benavidez and Plant would become the WBC mandatory challenger. According to the WBC’s own public announcement, Benavidez was supposed to be the mandatory challenger on March 25th when he won against Plant by unanimous decision, but the WBC opted not to acknowledge him as such, nor did they order him to face the 168 lbs division’s undisputed champion, Canelo Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KO’s).

That same year, the WBC again dictated during their annual convention Benavidez could become the mandatory challenger if he made it past Demetrius Andrade (32-1, 19 KO’s) on November 25th. As Benavidez stopped Andrade on that date, he was again considered the mandatory challenger, yet a mandate for Alvarez and Benavidez to fight each other never emerged.

In light of the WBC’s own mandates that saw Benavidez become a mandatory challenger twice, Mauricio Sulaiman was recently interviewed to substantiate on why Alvarez-Benavidez had not been ordered, only to reveal that the entire matter was out of his hands.

We are not promoters, we are part of the ecosystem [infrastructure in boxing], and we’re allowing the promoters do their job,Mauricio Sulaiman told Pro Boxing Fans.

Benavidez apparently is going to do a title defense of his interim [title], and Canelo [Alvarez] a defense of his titles, but that’s a fight everyone wants to see.

Sulaiman’s statements appear to now suggest the WBC has little to no authority in boxing which is far from the truth. Like any major sanctioning body, the WBC can order a fight if the right conditions are in place; a champion and usually a mandatory challenger or otherwise a valid contender who can temporarily become the mandatory contender. A failure or refusal by the champion to face his mandated opponent would then usually result in that champion being stripped according to the WBC’s own rules.

WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman Refuses To Order Canelo Alvarez Vs. David Benavidez image 1
Article 3.2 of the WBC’s official “Rules and Regulations”

Though the above rule states a champion would need to forfeit their title if unable to fight within the periods set by the WBC, the WBC can circumvent a champion from being stripped if they never order a fight; such as clearly seems to be the case with Alvarez and Benavidez.

While Benavidez had seemingly gone through at least two matches where he should have been designated as the WBC mandatory challenger in the super middleweight division, the WBC have ignored their own rules to ignore the fact that Benavidez had been a mandatory challenger since March 25th.

WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman Refuses To Order Canelo Alvarez Vs. David Benavidez image 2
WBC’s rule 3.7 detailing how mandatory challengers are designated.

As rule 3.7 (a) states, a contender can become a mandatory challenger if they’re ordered to face another qualified contender in a final elimination bout that has been officially ordered by the WBC; something that has occurred twice in the case of David Benavidez who defeated Plant and Andrade in separate final elimination matches.

However, the WBC seems to have forgotten the deliberations they made during two separate conventions as Mauricio Sulaiman went on to reveal to Pro Boxing Fans that Benavidez had never actually been the mandatory challenger.

There’s a lot of talk, a lot of confusion, a lot of hype, on this topic―and we understand it,” Mauricio Sulaiman said.

We’re handling to try to make the best fight happen, and we’re on the process. Benavidez becomes [a] mandatory this coming March. He won the fight against Plant last March, so it’s too much speculation, too much [many] people trying to find the wrongdoings. This is not the case; Benavidez deserves a fight and I hope it will happen soon.

The takeaway from Mauricio Sulaiman’s interview does not reveal anything that really serves to clear the entire situation up, but to put everything into perspective, the WBC’s own conventions have already stipulated Benavidez should be the mandatory when he defeated Plant on March 25th, thus the decision by the WBC to appoint Benavidez a mandatory this year is not only long overdue, but incorrect.

Regardless of whether Benavidez holds an interim title or not, it falls under the responsibility of the WBC to order this fight as Benavidez has fulfilled his part of the obligations to be considered a mandatory challenger. His hold over the interim title, which is distinct from the mandatory position, only accentuates Benavidez’ validity and competence as a contender for a future world title.

Regardless of who Benavidez and Alvarez have fought, and will fight, Alvarez-Benavidez should be ordered as long as the other sanctioning bodies have not ordered their own mandated bouts since Alvarez only faced and defeated his WBO mandatory challenger in John Ryder on May 6th.

Suffice to say, WBC can still order Canelo Alvarez and David Benavidez to fight yet the organization has shifted the playing field at every turn, refusing to openly acknowledge Benavidez as a mandatory and ignoring the long overdue match that they should have ordered since last year.

It is unknown whether the WBC is influenced by a sense of favoritism towards Alvarez or bias against Benavidez, but the only factor that prevents this fight from occurring is the WBC itself. The WBC’s staunch refusal to mandate the fight between the two super middleweights has only stagnated the division; evident by when Alvarez chose to fight a super welterweight/junior middleweight in Jermell Charlo (35-2-1, 19 KO’s).

As explained before, their reason for not ordering the fight may pertain to Alvarez’ own wishes not to face Benavidez which would result in him being forced to relinquish his WBC title―which would remove his undisputed champion status and leave Alvarez with only three titles. Despite a sanctioning body being expected to remain impartial, it seems the WBC’s concerns do not revolve around boxing itself as Alvarez continues to escape a mandate other champions are expected to uphold.