A look at the best performances in the young career of the undefeated, two-time super middleweight world champion as he prepares to return to his native Phoenix and face Kyrone Davis Saturday night in a PBC on SHOWTIME main event.
David Benavidez has had more ups and downs than most 24-year-olds but one thing has remained constant: His performances in the ring.
The strapping, undefeated two-time super middleweight world champion, has generally dominated his opponents with an overwhelming combination of ability and punching power. He hopes to do it again this Saturday, November 6, as he takes on contender Kyrone Davis (16-2-1, 6 KOs) in Benavidez’s hometown of Phoenix in a Premier Boxing Champions event live on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Benavidez (24-0, 21 KOs) became the youngest, at 20 years old, to win a major super middleweight title – the WBC version – when he defeated Ronald Gavril by a split decision in September 2017 and nearly shut out the Romanian in the rematch.
He then lost his title when he tested positive for an ingredient in cocaine but, as determined as ever, he bounced back two fights later to regain the same belt by stopping formidable veteran Anthony Dirrell in nine rounds in September 2019.
Benavidez lost that title on the scale during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic but has remained active and has vowed to become a world titleholder again, even if he has to go through undisputed champion Canelo Álvarez to do it.
No one who has seen Benavidez fight would put anything past him. Here are the five best performances in his career so far.
5 ROGELIO MEDINA
Date: May 20, 2017
Location: Laredo Energy Arena, Laredo, Texas
At stake: No titles
Records at the time: Benavidez (17-0, 16 KOs); Medina 37-7 (31 KOs)
Result: Benavidez TKO 8
Significance: “Porky” Medina had lost his biggest fights – to the likes of Yory Boy Campas, Jose Uzcategui, Badou Jack and James DeGale – but he was a capable, hard-punching fighter who always put up a good effort. That made the Mexican an ideal stepping stone for up-and-coming prospects. Benavidez was barely out of his teenage years when he climbed into the ring to face Medina in his first scheduled 12-rounder. Well, the young man didn’t need the full slate of rounds to get the job done. He unleashed his lethal combination of skill, power and ferocity and overwhelmed Medina, who couldn’t make it out of the eighth round. Benavidez looked like a future champion that night.
4 RONALD GAVRIL I
Date: Sept. 8, 2017
Location: Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas
At stake: Vacant WBC super middleweight world title
Records at the time: Benavidez 18-0 (17 KOs); Gavril 18-1 (14 KOs)
Result: Benavidez SD 12
Significance: Benavidez, only 20, relied on guts and determination as much as his ability to eke past the aggressive Gavril and become the youngest ever to win a major super middleweight title, overcoming a knockdown in the process. Benavidez got off to a strong start but the fight evolved into a back-and-forth war that could’ve gone either way. And Gavril had a big closing round, in which he landed a left hook that put Benavidez down with a minute to go. However, in the end, the knockdown didn’t matter. Benavidez won 117-111, 116-111 and 111-116 to make 168-pound history and prove he could overcome a significant challenge.
3 ROAMER ALEXIS ANGULO
Date: Aug. 15, 2020
Location: Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, Conn.
At stake: Vacant WBC super middleweight world title (only for Angulo)
Records at the time: Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs); Angulo 26-1 (22 KOs)
Result: Benavidez UD 10
Significance: Benavidez was supposed to have made the first defense in his second reign as a 168-pound champion but lost his title on the scales when he came in 2.8 pounds over the limit. However, as he said, he still had a job to do. He did it well. He picked the durable Colombian apart with a varied offensive attack and took very little punishment in return, which wore down Angulo and left him unable to continue after the 10thround. The winner had been devastated that he lost his belt the day before the fight but made it clear that he hadn’t lost anything in ring, demonstrated again that he is as dangerous as anyone at or around 168 pounds.
2 RONALD GAVRIL II
Date: Feb. 17, 2018
Location: Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas
At stake: Benavidez’s WBC super middleweight world title
Records at the time: Benavidez (19-0, 17 KOs); Gavril 18-2 (14 KOs)
Result: Benavidez UD 12
Significance: Benavidez demonstrated his warrior mentality by agreeing to give Gavril an immediate rematch after his hard-fought victory to win the WBC title six months earlier. As it turned out, the rematch was a mismatch. The 22-year-old champion proved that he learned a great deal in the first fight with Gavril. This time, he used his superior boxing skills to dominate his Romanian rival from the opening bell and nearly pitch a shutout on the scorecards, winning 120-108, 120-108 and 119-109. In the process, he retained his title and demonstrated that he was evolving into one of the most-formidable fighting machines in the world.
1 Anthony Dirrell
Date: Sept. 28, 2019
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles
At stake: Dirrell’s WBC super middleweight world title
Records at the time: Benavidez 21-0 (18 KOs); Dirrell (33-1-1, 24 KOs)
Result: Benavidez KO 9
Significance: Benavidez faced a significant challenge in his attempt to regain the WBC title on the Errol Spence Jr.-Shawn Porter pay-per-view card. Dirrell, who held the WBC belt, was a respected, experienced all-around fighter and admired for his resilience. One must be on his game to beat him. And Benavidez certainly was. The younger man, fighting behind his long jab, cut Dirrell above his right eye and gradually broke him down with an assortment of hard punches to the head and body. Dirrell’s corner had seen enough by the middle of round nine and threw in the towel. The face of the division at the time was back on top.
For a closer look at David Benavidez, check out his fighter page.