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DAVID BENAVIDEZ GREATEST HITS: I’m ready to reach my potential

David Benavidez (left) is draped with belts after his ninth round knockout of Anthony Dirrell. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Fox Sports/PictureGroup)
Fighters Network

You forget the fact that David Benavidez is only 23 years old. It tends to get lost under the unbeaten WBC world super middleweight titlist’s bundles of talent and the feeling that he’s been fighting forever—since he was 18.

Benavidez (22-0, 19 knockouts) is scheduled to face Roamer Alexis Angulo (26-1, 22 KOs) this Saturday (9 p.m. ET/6p.m. PT) on Showtime Championship Boxing’s Premier Boxing Champions tripleheader card sans fans at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

Early next month, Benavidez is expecting something else—a baby boy from his expectant girlfriend.

It’s a great comeback in and out of the ring for “El Bandera Roja.”

In September 2018, the WBC took his super middleweight title belt away when Benavidez tested positive for the banned substance benzoylecgonine, the key ingredient in cocaine, as part of the WBC’s Clean Boxing Program.

Benavidez was accountable, coming out publicly on Twitter to say, “I would like to sincerely apologize to the WBC for my actions. I am embarrassed to have this happen and to my all my fans that I lost the respect of. I know a lot of people won’t see me the same, but I am young and it was a mistake on my behalf.”

Since then, El Bandera Roja returned to regain the WBC belt and is setting his attention on fighting for the first time in almost a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently, Benavidez was gracious enough to sit down with The Ring to discuss his greatest victories among his first 22 fights.

Rollin Williams

Date/Venue: April 25, 2015/Celebrity Theater, Phoenix, Arizona

Titles: Non-title bout

“I remember Rollin had more experience than me. I remember knocking him out in the first round. The reason why it was such a significant victory for me at the time because I fought in Phoenix, Arizona, in front of my hometown. It was an exciting show and it was the first time I knocked somebody out with a six-punch combination. I worked very hard for that fight. It was just a great experience. At the time, it was one of the hardest training camps I ever had. I was 18 then. Williams faced a lot of good guys already and he had way more experience than I did. I knew with my training, my youth and my skill that I was going to get him out of there.”

Result: Benavidez KO 1

Ricardo Campillo

Date/Venue: May 15, 2015/US Airway Centre, Phoenix

Titles: Non-title bout

“This was my first fight at 175. Campillo was the hard-hitting guy and a lot of people had trouble knocking him out. It feels like that fight was a long time ago. Campillo was a big, sturdy guy. I went there thinking that I wasn’t going to be able to knock him out. It was my first time fighting someone at 175. I remember knocking him out in the second round with a left hook. It was beautiful. I do remember being a little nervous going into that fight. It was my 10th fight, and the competition gets better. That’s when I started getting a little more confidence in myself.”

Result: Benavidez KO 2

Kevin Cobbs

Date/Venue: January 19, 2016/Club Nokia, Los Angeles, California

Titles: Non-title bout

“This fight is significant, because Cobbs had one loss and he was a little bit cocky going into the fight. I remember him saying he was going to beat me; he was going to knock me out. I was 19 and he was 31. This was a bad-blood fight. I didn’t like him. He didn’t like me. I stopped him in the second. It was a mix of punches that hurt him. I pulled his hands down and hit him with a right to the head. That started it. I started going to the body and applying pressure. That helped me, too. I took my time. I didn’t rush anything. I found out that if everything is done correctly, the knockout will come. You just have to do everything right. I remember having another hard training camp. My confidence began growing and growing. He had a good resume.”

Result: Benavidez KO 2

Phillip Jackson Benson

Date/Venue: April 30, 2016/StubHub Center, Carson, California

Titles: Non-title bout

“At the time, Benson was 16-1, with 15 knockouts. This guy was talking a lot of stuff, too. It was my first big fight. It was at the StubHub Center. I ended up knocking this guy out. I actually put him to sleep. I hit him with a right hand to the head, then a left hook to the jaw. I knocked him out cold. That’s when I kind of knew that I had some real punching power. It’s really where all of my confidence grew. I didn’t care after that what their record was. As soon as I touched somebody with the right shot, they were going to go to sleep. It’s all in the body language that says the knockout will come. Sometimes if you rush into it, you tend to rush and telegraph your punches.”

Result: Benavidez KO 2

Rogelio Medina

Date/Venue: May 20, 2017/Laredo Energy Arena, Laredo, Texas

Titles: Non-title bout

“This was one of my favorite knockouts. A lot of people thought Medina beat James DeGale. So, a lot of people didn’t think that I could beat Medina, let alone knock him out. They said he had too much experience and that I was just a little kid. I had an amazing training camp for that fight. It was a tough fight, and obviously, everyone saw the knockout. It was probably one of the best highlight-reel knockouts that I ever had. Medina was a brawler, but he was very slow. I could see his punches coming.

“It wasn’t only the knockout that was significant for me. It was a fight that took everything I had to beat him. It took everything out of me to knock that guy out, and bring the best out of me. I’m really proud of that fight. All my training camps are the same. We had a 10-week camp for this. I worked very hard. I’m very disciplined. The only thing different about the preparation was my mindset. I knew this would be my breakthrough fight. The fight was going to be a big stage and it was a chance to get my name out there. I wanted everyone to find out who I was. I wanted to show everybody what I could do. That set everything apart.”

Result: Benavidez KO 8

Anthony Dirrell

Date/Venue: September 28, 2019/Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

Titles: WBC super middleweight

“This was my chance to come back and win my belt back. There was a lot of bad blood in the beginning, but that came from me. Dirrell had my belt. He was a gentleman. I remember going to the Fox studios and doing the faceoffs with Dirrell. That was a different experience for me. Anthony Dirrell had never been knocked out; he had never even been dropped. That was the challenge for me. So, for me to go in there stopping him, and winning my title back, it goes up there with one of the greatest fights that I ever had. I not only knocked him, I stopped a guy with that much experience. He had been in there with the best of the best, and that really meant a lot to me.

“It’s one of my greatest victories to this day.

“I remember throwing a lot of jabs that hurt him. It was an accumulation of punches that stopped him. The last round he was just surviving, when his corner threw the towel in for him. I went to the body and threw a lot of jabs. I walked him down.

“Dirrell was very respectful. I was used to guys trash talking during press conferences, saying this and that. This was different because of all of the media attention. I’m getting used to all of this attention. I learned that I can always bounce back. I learned you can get back anything, if you work hard enough. I made a mistake two years ago and I learned from it. I came back and regained my belt and all of the fans I had.

“The only one who could beat me is me. I’m motivated to be the best ever.”

Result: Benavidez KO 9

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/ since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.



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