A look back at the finest performances from the undefeated two-time champion ahead of his showdown versus former champ David Lemieux for the interim WBC 168-pound belt Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.
It’s hard to believe that David Benavidez is just 25. Doesn’t it seem as if the former two-time world champion has been around for 20 years? What’s scary is that the boxing world has yet to see his best.
Benavidez is still working his way toward a career-defining signature fight. It doesn’t mean speed bumps and traps are not lying ahead.
Benavidez (25-0, 22 KOs) finds himself in a terrifying test this Saturday when he faces 33-year-old knockout artist and former world champ David Lemieux (43-4, 36 KOs) for the WBC Interim World Super Middleweight interim title in a PBC event on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing (10 p.m. ET /7 p.m. PT) from the Gila River Arena, in Glendale, Arizona.
Benavidez has stopped his last five opponents, including Anthony Dirrell in 2019 for the WBC super middleweight world championship. Lemieux’s four losses have come at middleweight, and two of the four in failed world title challenges against middleweight world champions Billy Joe Saunders and Gennadiy Golovkin.
“Lemieux has a great resume with a lot of knockouts and I feel like he’s probably one of the most dangerous fighters I’ve faced,” Benavidez said. “The only guys who are more dangerous than him haven’t stepped up and taken the challenge. “I really want to go in there and earn this title. I have a lot of respect for Lemieux and I’ve been watching him since I was young, but he has a lot to worry about with me. I’m faster and stronger, but he’s got the experience, so this is going to be a great fight.”
Recently, Benavidez took the time to break down the five most important fights that have enabled him to reach this point:
5 PHILLIP JACKSON BENSON
Date: April 30, 2016
Location: StubHub Center, Carson, California
At stake: No title
Records at the time: Benavidez 13-0, (12 KOs), Benson 16-2, (15 KOs)
Result: Benavidez KO 2 (2:07)
Significance: Phillip Jackson Benson never fought again after this fight. A Benavidez right to the jaw in the second ended it at 2:07. It was emphatic. It was brutal. It served notice to anyone that the rangy 19-year-old kid was for real—and he had real power.
“This is one of my top five, because at the time, it was my 13th fight and my first real step up against someone with real punching power,” Benavidez said. “I think that fight made me realize I had a lot of power. And fighting a guy with a lot of power motivated me to work that much harder in the gym. I wanted to show him and everyone else that I had power.”
4 FRANCY NTETU
Date: June 25, 2016
Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
At stake: No title
Records at the time: Benavidez 14-0 (13 KOs), Ntetu 16-0 (3 KOs)
Result: Benavidez KO 7 (1:30)
Significance: Benavidez stopped the undefeated Ntetu with a right in the seventh. There was some confusion after the fight since referee Shada Murdaugh stepped in and waved it over at 1:30 when it seemed Ntetu did not appear to be seriously hurt. He was. Benavidez had broken Ntetu’s orbital bone. He was up, 59-55 on one card and 58-56 on the other two in the scheduled eight-rounder.
“He was the first undefeated fighter I fought, and he used the ring a lot, and he had some skills,” Benavidez recalled. “That fight made me realize that boxing is not all about power. I learned how to cut off the ring. I broke his orbital bone. I had to be patient.”
3 RONALD GAVRIL II
Date: February 17, 2018
Location: Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, Events Center, Las Vegas, Nevada,
At stake: Benavidez’s WBC super middleweight title
Records at the time: Benavidez 19-0 (17 KOs), Gavril 18-2 (12 KOs)
Result: Benavidez UD 12 (120-108, 120-108, 119-109)
Significance: Two of the three times Benavidez went the distance came against Gavril. In their first fight, Benavidez won the vacant WBC super middleweight world championship by split-decision scores of 116-111 and 117-111, against a 116-111 score. In the first fight, Benavidez, 20 then, started well and faded late and was knocked down for the first time in the 12th. In the rematch, Benavidez left no doubt, winning by a shutout on two of the three scorecards and 11 of 12 rounds on the other.
“I had a lot of things on my mind in the first fight,” Benavidez said. “I was sick going into the first fight and my uncle died the week before. I had a lot going on. I put a beating on him really good in the second fight. I got knocked down in the first fight, and he caught me off balance. But a knockdown is a knockdown. I learned in the rematch that when I’m healthy and good, no one can mess with me.”
2 ROGELIO MEDINA
Date: May 20, 2017
Location: Laredo Energy Arena, Laredo, Texas
At stake: No title
Records at the time: Benavidez 17-0 (16 KOs), Medina 37-7 (31 KOs)
Result: Benavidez KO 8 (1:01)
Significance: Medina was supposed to be a step up in class. “Porky” had faced world-class opposition and this fight was going to show what Benavidez was capable of when facing someone who would put pressure on him. It did not matter. Benavidez knocked Medina down three times, once in the sixth, seventh and in the eight, when Benavidez ended it at 1:01.
“Medina was really tough and it was actually the first time a fighter pushed me to that limit,” Benavidez said. “I was really young then, too, I was 20. It wasn’t that he was landing great shots, he just wouldn’t stop coming. It was hard for me to stop him. He just kept coming and coming. I really had to mix up all of my offense to get him out of there.”
1 Anthony Dirrell
Date: September 28, 2019
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
At stake: Dirrell’s WBC super middleweight title
Records at the time: Benavidez 21-0 (18 KOs), Dirrell 33-1-1 (24 KOs)
Result: Benavidez KO 9 (1:39)
Significance: Benavidez regained the WBC super middleweight world championship by doing something no other fighter had previously done and that’s stop Dirrell for the first time as a pro. Benavidez busted open a cut on Dirrell’s right eye in the sixth. As the fight progressed, the cut opened wider and it finally forced Dirrell’s corner to stop it in the ninth.
“I was the first person to ever stop Dirrell, who was a good champion, and I took the belt from him,” Benavidez said. “That fight showed that I could not only hang with the best in the world, I could stop them. It’s my best fight.”
For a closer look at David Benavidez, check out his fighter page.