Stephen Espinoza is optimistic regarding the possibility of putting together a Jermall Charlo-David Benavidez fight later this year.
Espinoza, Showtime’s president of sports and event programming, realizes it would be an ambitious move for Charlo to battle Benavidez in his first fight at the 168-pound limit. But if Canelo Alvarez beats Billy Joe Saunders on May 8 and boxes Caleb Plant in September, Espinoza explained during a recent appearance on Chris Mannix’s Sports Illustrated boxing podcast that it could open up an opportunity to schedule a Charlo-Benavidez bout for late in 2021.
The 30-year-old Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) is scheduled to make an optional defense of his WBC middleweight title against Mexican underdog Juan Macias Montiel (24-4-2, 22 KOs) on June 19 in Houston, Charlo’s hometown. Assuming Charlo wins that low-profile fight, boxing Benavidez might become more appealing to Charlo if he can’t secure a 160-pound title unification fight against either IBF/IBO champ Gennadiy Golovkin or WBO champ Demetrius Andrade.
The 24-year-old Benavidez (24-0, 21 KOs) has challenged Charlo publicly on numerous occasions, both before and after his 11th-round, technical-knockout victory over Ronald Ellis (18-2-2, 12 KOs, 1 NC) on March 13 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The former WBC super middleweight champion also is a heavy favorite over former IBF champ Jose Uzcategui (30-4, 25 KOs) in a WBC elimination match scheduled for August 28.
Showtime will televise the Charlo-Montiel and Benavidez-Uzcategui fights, which Espinoza expects could lead to Charlo-Benavidez.
“I think it is very possible,” Espinoza said. “You know, at 168 there’s Benavidez, there’s Plant, there’s, you know, Canelo being the wild card and maybe Jermall Charlo, you know, throw into that group. I think [Charlo-Benavidez] could’ve happened, but the timing was off. You know, Jermell and Jermall haven’t fought since September. And David Benavidez just fought, you know, in March. So, Benavidez wasn’t gonna be ready as quickly as Jermall wanted, and Jermall didn’t wanna wait all the way until the fall, until when Benavidez was ready.
“So, they each took a fight and I think there will be conversations going forward. Now, whether or not it’s fair to ask Jermall to take on one of the two or three best guys in the division in his first fight at that weight class, that’s a big challenge. But, you know, I still think it is very possible that that fight happens next, depending on what happens with Plant and Canelo as well.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.