David Benavidez will have his eyes on Caleb Plant Saturday night
But of course, eyes will be on the A-side welterweights come Saturday night in Las Vegas, what with the fighting Senator, Manny Pacquiao, seeking to prove 40 is the new 30, gloving up against Keith Thurman, the entertaining cerebral pugilist, in a scrap to run on PPV.
And, also, there will be persons with a vested interest in the super middleweight division watching hard, because A-sider Caleb Plant will be putting his strap up for grabs against Chicagoan Mike Lee.
Plant owns the IBF belt, and he impressed the masses in downing Jose Uzcategui, in his last go, in January.
His profile has been on the rise, and the division as a whole is maybe on an uptick. Callum Smith is spoken of glowingly by fans and pundits alike, but it could well be that the best in the division is 22-year-old hitter David Benavidez, who has to wait until September to show it all off.
Benavidez (21-0, 18 knockouts) meets up with 34-year-old Anthony Dirrell (33-1-1, 24 KOs) and the WBC’s 168 crown will be for the taking.
Benavidez said that “Dirrell is a tough rugged fighter, he has a lot of experience himself, but I just don’t see the fire in him anymore. And I don’t think he’s going to be able to put up with the pressure I give him. I feel like he had his opportunity, he had his chance, he didn’t really make a name for himself like he was supposed to, you know.
“I feel like this is my opportunity now, I’m not gonna let Anthony Dirrell, I’m not gonna let nobody take this from me. I’m just ready to go in there and show everybody that I’m truly the best 168 in the world!”
Yes, indeed, he admits he knows that Dirrell has yet to be stopped, and yes, he’d like to be the first. “I always want to be the type of fighter to give the fans a great stoppage, a great knockout,” said Benavidez, whose older brother, Jose, also fights for prize money. “But now I understand sometimes you’re not gonna be able to stop everybody. But I’d be lying if I’m saying I’m not gonna go for the knockout.”
He knows the people crave KOs and his stock rises higher with that flashy stoppage. “If I don’t knock Dirrell out, you best believe I’m gonna put a beating on him!”
His attitude seems proper; he told me he doesn’t get irked when he gets asked about missteps, like testing positive for a banned substance. He knows focus on hiccups comes with the territory. He’s grown up; he’s learned lessons.
Yes, he seems dialed in to being a star, and he’s not impatient. He expects to be on a high plane for a long while. “I’m just getting better and better every day,” he said.
“I’m gonna stay at 168 until I fight all these people,” the Benavidez said. “I make 168 pretty easy.”
“I’ve had my eyes on these guys, like Caleb Plant, Callum Smith, Canelo Alvarez, probably the biggest star in the world in boxing.”
We shall see how Plant fares Saturday. Mike Lee is being overlooked by many, but c’mon, theater of the unexpected. Have to see how things play out … But if Plant wins, expect chatter to include the spoken desire of fans to have a Plant-Benavidez faceoff.
“Yeah, I would love to fight Caleb Plant. He does a lot of trash talk, you know, but he does a little bit too much running when it comes to getting in the ring,” Benavidez said. “Yeah, I believe I can knock Caleb out. I feel like Callum Smith is a little bit tougher fight, he has a little bit more weapons in his arsenal, I feel like it’d take a bit more work to beat Smith, but I believe I beat him as well.”
Is Benavidez the man at 168? Will he be top of the heap when things play out? Or you think Callum Smith is the man? Or will Plant continue his profile expansion, handle Lee and keep elevating his stature in the game?
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