After David Benavidez scored a second-round knockout in January on the Carl Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz undercard in Las Vegas, promoter Sampson Lewkowicz offered high praise.
“In 2000, I brought [Manny] Pacquiao to America. Eight years later, I brought [former two-division champion] Sergio [Martinez),” Lewkowicz said. “In 2016, eight years apart, I brought David Benavidez. You tell me if that's by mistake or if God bring him to me—I work eight years to find one.”
Now four months later, the 20-year-old Phoenix native is fighting former title challenger Rogelio “Porky” Medina in a 168-pound title eliminator Saturday night at the Laredo Energy Arena in Laredo, Texas (FS1, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
David Benavidez (17-0, 16 KOs) put the 168-pound division on notice with his quick stoppage of Sherali Mamajonov earlier this year, and now the young fighter has a chance to make a statement to the rest of the world.
“I told Sampson to give me this fight for a while,” Benavidez said. “That it's for an eliminator made me even more excited, more hungry. This is my opportunity to show people I can become a champion.”
Medina (37-7, 31 KOs) is no ordinary challenger; he’s easily the most experienced opponent of Benavidez’s career. The 28-year-old Mexican has pushed quality fighters to the limit and knocked off a couple of fighters hoping to cement themselves as legitimate contenders.
Medina’s third-round knockout of J'Leon Love in August 2014 is the standout win of his career, but one of his most impressive performances came in defeat in April 2016, when he lost a unanimous decision to world champion James DeGale in a 168-pound title bout that was closer than the scorecards indicated.
"I've been watching his fights," Benavidez said. "I know Porky Medina is a tough fighter, but I know I can expose a lot of his weaknesses. He leaves himself open and we have a good game plan against him.”
The 6-foot-2 Benavidez spent time in Big Bear, California, sparring with current 160-pound kingpin Gennady Golovkin, calling it the best training camp of his life. He's spent four months preparing for Medina, saying he's never prepared for a previous fight as hard as he has for this one.
Benavidez turned pro at the age of 16 and built a 7-0 record fighting in Mexico before making his U.S. ring debut just three days after his 18th birthday. Even with his rapid rise toward the top, he said he doesn’t feel as though things are moving too quickly for him.
“I feel like everything has moved according to plan,” Benavidez said. “When I signed with Sampson, he said things were going to happen, that every fight I fight is going to be a step up. I feel like the time is right. I paid my dues and I fought on undercards. Now, I'm ready to shine.”
For a complete look at Benavidez vs Medina, visit our fight page.