The father and trainer of unbeaten two-time world super middleweight champion David Benavidez breaks down the sweet science ahead of his son's return Saturday night on SHOWTIME.
This Saturday, March 13, former two-time WBC world super middleweight champion David Benavidez (23-0, 20 KOs) takes on Ronald Ellis (18-1-2, 12 KOs) in a PBC on SHOWTIME tripleheader (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) live from the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The bout has been sanctioned as a WBC World Super Middleweight Title eliminator, putting the winner in line to fight current champion Canelo Alvarez.
The man who has trained David Benavidez since the age of two will still be in the corner on Saturday night. His name is Jose Benavidez Sr., David’s father. Here, in his own words, he discusses the fundamentals of the sport and how his fighter implements them.
It All Starts With the Jab
“The jab is the key to everything,” Benavidez Sr. explained. “The jab blinds the opponent, gets people off balance, sets up other combinations, and measures the distance. We always practice only the jab for five or six rounds every day. We work on different speeds of the jab. Sometimes it’s more of a tap, sometimes it’s more of a fast jab, sometimes it’s more of an explosive jab. Some come from down-up [also known as the ‘up-jab’], and some we practice from up-down, and some are straight.
“Because of the opponents David has been fighting, he uses the jab to set up uppercuts, combinations, and body shots. They’ll test him the first round and then we know David is stronger and more skillful than them, so we just try to break ‘em down and put ‘em out. But I think there’s going to be a time where we see guys who are a little more intelligent, a little more talented, and then we’ll have to use the jab to make sure we keep that distance and maybe counter off of that.”
Footwork & Positioning
“David has more of a flat-footed, awkward stance—his legs would not cooperate with him like they did with his brother (welterweight Jose Benavidez Jr.). We would work day and night to learn to use the mechanism of the stance, how to grab the ground and stay more balanced. The one time he got dropped [versus Ronald Gavril in 2017], he got dropped because he was off balance. We’ve been working on that, focusing on the position of his legs. He is getting better at it, but he still has that different, kind of awkward stance, and it works to his advantage because he can throw awkward punches.
“I don’t want to change something that comes natural to him. Awkward sometimes is better. So we’re trying to work off of his awkwardness, but position the body a little different, just little adjustments. It seems to be working.”
Protect Yourself At All Times
“David only had seven amateur fights, so I took my time to lay down the foundation and the fundamentals. He hated it, but I remember we did a lot of rounds where he would just focus on his defense and not throw punches back.
“Everybody has a pattern of throwing punches. If they don’t have good fundamentals, they just keep doing the same thing over and over. We see whatever they do in the first round, they’re going to keep doing in the other rounds. Say he’s throwing three or four punches every time. So for the last punch we predict what he’s going to do and then we’ll counter. That’s how we communicate, me and David.
“Once fighters have good fundamentals, they stand on their own. Now they’ll start experimenting with other ways to block, other ways to use their defense. David’s been experimenting now because he feels more comfortable.”
“ [David's] mind is so powerful and he’s so confident, he’s scary.” ” Trainer - Jose Benavidez Sr.
“The most difficult opponent you can put a fighter in with is a boxer—a runner, who has good legs. For example, Caleb Plant. He has more of an amateur style, but he has very good feet. He’s very slick, he can move around. I’ve been studying Caleb Plant for almost three years. I’ve been seeing the way he moves, which way he’s going to go. He’s got a pattern. He’s almost 30 years old. He’s not improving anymore. I think he’s really good at what he does but I haven’t seen any changes.
“All fighters have a hard time fighting a guy like Caleb Plant. But we’ve been studying a lot of fighters like that to figure out: How are we going to close the gaps? How are we going to put the pressure on? The key here is to try to aim for the chest and get him off balance. Then we have to work the body a lot to slow him down and get him a little tired.
“That’s the way I think you can fight a guy who has good legs and moves around too much, who’s not trying to give you a fight. I think we’re getting good at that. David is doing really good at cutting the gaps, giving pressure, and using head movement to dodge punches, and blocking, and having a mix of everything. He’s aiming for the chest and the body, that’s the most important target we’re looking for. Not the face—everybody headhunts. No, the middle of the stomach, the chest, and the sides of the body. Once you hit there, the hands will drop a little bit and that’s when we start hitting the head more.”
“I grew up without parents. I was abandoned, so I lived on the street. I got afraid that if I died or something happened to me, [my sons] were going to get abused like me. I cannot let that happen to my kids.
“In my mind, I had to make them warriors in case something happened to me. So I made them strong. I trained them and made them run. I fell in love with boxing and I felt it could help them defend themselves. That’s why I became a trainer. That’s how I thought I would help them in life. I thought if they can be good at boxing, they can be good at whatever they want to do in life, whatever they choose to do.
“I never thought they were going to be champions. I never thought they would even compete. I was just trying to make them better. I wanted them to be strong in life. It doesn’t matter what it is, you have to work hard, you have to sacrifice. So I thought if I could lay the foundation, the fundamentals, it would spread and they would be good citizens and good-hearted men.
“David is at a stage right now where he’s super motivated, he’s super hungry, he’s a monster. Now he has a six-pack. Now he’s doing everything he wants to do, and it’s because he’s on a different level. His mind is so powerful and he’s so confident, he’s scary.”
For a closer look at David Benavidez, check out his fighter page.
- Benavidez vs Ellis