As predicted, David Benavidez did indeed face the toughest test of his young career Saturday night in his 168-pound title eliminator against veteran slugger Rogelio “Porky” Medina. And Benavidez didn’t just pass his test, he aced it.
David Benavidez (18-0, 17 KOs) drilled Rogelio Medina (37-8, 31 KOs) with one vicious power punch after another, finally finishing things off in the eighth round with a sensational eight-punch combination that nearly knocked his hard-charging, iron-chinned opponent out of the ring at the Laredo Energy Arena in Laredo, Texas.
With the victory, the 20-year-old Benavidez earned his first world title shot. He’s now slated to face the winner of the upcoming bout between Anthony Dirrell and Callum Smith, who are scheduled to battle for the crown vacated earlier this year by Badou Jack. Depending on when Benavidez gets his crack at the Dirrell-Smith winner, the Phoenix resident could become the youngest active titleholder in boxing.
“This [victory] makes me more humble and gives me more motivation to work harder,” said Benavidez, who was coming off a second-round knockout of Sherali Mamajonov on January 28. “There has never been a [168-pound] champion at 20 years old, but I’m going to be the first to do that. … This is just a glimpse of what I can do.”
A knockout machine who had obliterated 16 of his first 17 foes—including 13 inside of two rounds—Benavidez walked into the ring Saturday having fought just 44 rounds in his nearly four-year pro career. By comparison, Medina had faced 44 opponents since turning pro almost 10 years ago.
So it was clear from the moment the fight was announced that Medina—a former 168-pound title challenger—would be Benavidez’s toughest challenge to date. Sure enough, the 28-year-old native of Mexico came out and took the fight to Benavidez, constantly applying pressure and frequently bullying his younger foe into the ropes.
While Benavidez absorbed some solid shots to both the head and body in the early going, he never panicked and in fact seemed quite comfortable fighting off his back foot, effectively using his jab and counterpunching skills. Still, after three rounds, it was Medina who held a slight lead on the scorecards.
It would prove to be a very short-lived advantage.
Midway through Round 4, Benavidez finally staggered Medina with a pinpoint left uppercut, then backed him up with a flurry of shots. Undaunted, Medina kept coming forward and firing. Even as Benavidez closed the round with another impressive onslaught of power punches, Medina flashed a smile and made a gesture, as if to say, “Bring it on!”
Benavidez obliged, resuming his assault in Round 5, yet the bull-like Medina never retreated. Then near the end of the sixth round, Benavidez finally tamed the bull. Spinning off the ropes, he landed a series of combinations that resulted in a ruled knockdown by referee Jon Schorle, even though Medina—who was bleeding from the nose—never left his feet.
“ There has never been a [168-pound] champion at 20 years old, but I’m going to be the first to do that. … This is just a glimpse of what I can do. ” David Benavidez
That would change late in Round 7 when Benavidez connected with a devastating right uppercut to the chest that dropped Medina to his knees. Medina beat the count, but was doubled over on his stool in between rounds.
Refusing to quit, though, Medina not only answered the bell for Round 8, he came out throwing haymakers. But about a minute into the frame, Benavidez stood in the center of the ring and finished the show in Knockout of the Year style. It started with a crushing left-right to the body, followed by a brutal, head-swiveling six-punch combination that sent Medina crumbling to the canvas on his back and sliding under the bottom rope.
Schorle didn’t even bother to start a count, immediately waving an end to the bout at the 1:08 mark. That gave Benavidez his 10th consecutive knockout victory and sent Medina to his fourth career stoppage defeat.
“I did my best tonight,” Medina said. “The plan was to win, work him from beginning to end, but he moved a little bit more than I anticipated. [Benavidez] did his job and hit me with a few good shots.”
While it was the punishing power shots that ultimately gave Benavidez his biggest win to date, he claimed the real difference-maker was his jab. “I didn’t throw it as much as I would have liked,” he said, “but just enough to set him up.”
Following the triumph, Benavidez understandably began to turn his focus to his first world title shot—but not before first acknowledging that Medina gave him all he could handle.
“I’ve never fought a fighter who pushed me to the full extent like this,” he said. “Porky Medina is a tremendous fighter. It took everything for me to knock him out.”
Lara remains undefeated with crushing TKO of Briones
In other televised action, rapidly rising 126-pound prospect Jorge Lara (29-0-2, 21 KOs) ended a 13-month layoff in emphatic fashion, scoring a third-round stoppage of Mexico’s Mario Briones (28-6-2, 21 KOs).
Lara, a 26-year-old southpaw from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, dropped his countryman twice in the second round, then fired a series of power shots that led referee Lee Rogers to step in and stop the scheduled 10-round bout at the 58-second mark of Round 3. Lara has now stopped nine of his last 11 opponents, including six inside of three rounds.
For complete coverage of Benavidez vs Medina, visit our fight page.