David Benavidez out-slugs Ronald Gavril to earn vacant 168-lb. title
LAS VEGAS, Nevada — David Benavidez and Ronald Gavril put on a sensational bout in the main event of ShoBox’s special edition at The Joint inside of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Friday. The main event saw Benavidez survive a 12th-round knockdown to win a hard-fought split decision over Gavril.
The victory earned the 20-year-old phenom the vacant WBC super middleweight title (and the youngest boxer ever to win a major title in the 168-pound division).
For every thudding shot Benavidez (19-0, 17 knockouts) landed, Gavril (18-2, 14 KOs) returned fire with a warrior’s heart in a hellacious bout that was not for the weak of heart.
Early on, it appeared that Benavidez’ power would eventually breakdown the hard-nosed Gavril as the Arizona-based boxer-puncher began ripping heavy hooks to the body and head. Gavril attempted to pick up the tempo in the third round to offset Benavidez’ measured assault and managed to squeeze the jab in between Benavidez’ gloves occasionally. That only seemed to wake the sleeping giant as the heavy handed fighter from Arizona ramped up his attack with thudding power shots to the head and body.
But Gavril was game and refused to allow his opponent to tee off without a stiff response. The body work that Benavidez deposited in the early rounds began to mount up and the damage was visible on Gavril’s face. But the one thing Gavril refused to do was succumb to the pressure.
Gavril put together a spirited effort in the sixth round and backed Benavidez into the ropes. But in a wicked sequence, after weathering a Gavril storm, Benavidez bounced off the ropes and launched an uppercut that would have put down the average opponent.
If it was a fight the fans wanted, a fight is what they got.
The 10th round proved to be a memorable one as Gavril refused to back down from a Benavidez surge that brought the crowd to their feet. Not only did Gavril refuse to wilt, he finished the round strong by landing a hard combination to close the round and brought the crowd to their feet.
Yet another savage assault in the 11th round from Benavidez made it evident that the unbeaten fighter wanted to get his 11th consecutive knockout. However, a counter left hook from Gavril in the 12th round would end up sending an overly aggressive Benavidez to the canvas. It was a wild sequence that sent the rabid crowd into a frenzy as the two duked it out until the final bell. Ultimately, Benavidez would keep his unbeaten record intact when the scores were read as two judges saw it in his favor with 116-111 and 117-111 scores while the third judge gave the fight to Gavril 116-111. Regardless of how you scored it, everyone could agree that it was one hell of a fight.
In an unfortunate turn of events, a wicked clash of heads between J’Leon Love and Abraham Han abruptly ended their super middleweight clash and resulted in a technical majority draw on the scorecards.
The end came after a competitive bout between the two fighters that was nip and tuck throughout. However, in the eighth round, Love and Han’s heads came together. Han got the worst of it as a nasty gash exploded on the left side of his forehead and blood immediately poured onto the canvas. Seconds later, Han collapsed to the canvas as referee Kenny Bayless immediately called for help. Due to the accidental headbutt, the fight went to the scorecards with one judge seeing it in favor of Love 79-73. But that was overruled by two scores of 76-76 which led to the majority draw.
Up until that point, the two fighters didn’t deliver a ton of action but tried to pick their spots. Love (23-1-1) used a lot of movement early to keep Han (26-3-1) off balance while Han — who once lost a split decision to Sergio Mora — found his openings to land a left hook and the occasional jab. Love found success when he sat down on his punches but often found himself allowing Han to take the lead in the exchanges.
The end came at 1:02 in the eighth round.
Neither fighter had the upper hand, despite the 79-73 scorecard for Love, but due to the overall lack of action it is unlikely that these two will be paired again.
Caleb Plant turned in an exceptional performance against rugged late replacement Andrew Hernandez and pitched a 10-round shutout to earn a unanimous decision in super middleweight action.
Just about everything worked for Plant as he landed his jab, countered successfully and avoided taking any damage against a game but over-matched Hernandez. The only thing he wasn’t able to do was put his opponent away, although it appeared that he could have if he decided to step on the gas at any moment.
The victory moves Plant to 16-0 while Hernandez falls to 19-7-1.