Friday, March 31, 2023  |



David Benavidez set to make 168-pound history with victory over Ronald Gavril

Undefeated super middleweight David Benavidez (left) vs. Rogelio "Porky" Medina. Photo credit: Edgar Ramos/Premier Boxing Champions
Fighters Network

With a victory Friday, David Benavidez won’t just become champion.

He’ll make history as the youngest 168-pound titleholder ever. At 20 years old, he’ll also be the youngest beltholder in all of boxing today.

The Phoenix native wowed in his last performance, punctuated by a 10-punch combination that knocked Rogelio “Porky” Medina through the ropes. That eight-round stoppage victory put Benavidez on the map and showed everything that makes him a special talent: exceptionally fast hands for a super middleweight, tremendous power and ring smarts.

Now, he’s ready for his close up. Benavidez takes on Ronald Gavril for a vacant 168-pound title Friday in Las Vegas (Showtime, 10:05 p.m. ET) with a chance to not just make history, but prove he has what it takes to become a star.

“This opportunity means the world to me,” said Benavidez, whose brother, Jose, is a welterweight contender. “I’ve been working for this since I was a little kid. It’s all come down to this moment when I’m ready to take this belt and take over the 168-pound division.

“The time is almost here, and I can hardly wait for September 8. Winning the championship would be enough on its own. But the opportunity to be the youngest in the sport is a major accomplishment and the biggest of my life, so far.”

Benavidez (18-0, 17 knockouts) originally was slated to meet Anthony Dirrell for the WBC title vacated by Badou Jack, but the Michigan man cited an injury and withdrew. Dirrell formerly held that same belt, and would have presented a nice step-up in competition.

The same can’t be said for Gavril, a 31-year-old Romanian with zero victories of note and a loss to journeyman Elvin Ayala in 2015. Benavidez, to his credit, isn’t propping Gavril (18-1, 14 KOs) up.

“I feel like he has a really good style for me to showcase my skills, like how I did against Rogelio Medina,” Benavidez said. “With our sparring partners, we have brawlers and we have boxers, as well. Whatever style he fights on that night, I’m going to be prepared for it.”

If Benavidez can score the kind of highlight-reel knockout he accomplished vs. Medina, boxing won’t just have its youngest champion. It could be looking at its next star in the making.

Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger