David Benavidez wasn’t shocked when he noticed one of the biggest boxing upsets in recent times.
He had believed for years that even a main model of Canelo Alvarez could possibly be overwhelmed, and it got here to fruition on Might 7 when Alvarez, pushing himself into a brand new weight class, did not seize Dmitry Bivol’s WBA mild heavyweight belt. Bivol picked up a signature win and obtained the profession increase that comes with a matchup towards the game’s moneymaker.
Nonetheless, that does not change the truth for Benavidez and different fighters within the tier beneath Alvarez. Whereas the potential for intriguing matchups exists, Benavidez and others have not been capable of generate sufficient momentum to safe profitable bouts — particularly one towards Alvarez.
Benavidez (25-0, 22 KOs) is hoping to fabricate extra of a push this Saturday in Glendale, Arizona, when he faces former middleweight champion David Lemieux (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET).
“The one factor I can do is preserve beating the folks they put in entrance of me, preserve being thrilling,” Benavidez informed ESPN. “That is simply the kind of fighter I’m. I do not assume it’ll run out anytime quickly.”
Many consider Benavidez is likely one of the finest 168-pounders on this planet. Solely three of his skilled bouts have gone the space. ESPN ranks Benavidez No. 2 at tremendous middleweight, proper behind Canelo. If Benavidez beats Lemieux (43-4, 36 KOs), he’ll win the WBC’s interim tremendous middleweight title, which might theoretically power a compulsory showdown for Canelo’s WBC belt.
It is a logical and methodical approach for a fighter to construct momentum. It is why Benavidez determined to face the unknown Ronald Ellis final March in a WBC title eliminator that ought to have put him in line to face Alvarez. However this path assumes that logic is prevalent in boxing.
Even when Benavidez beats Lemieux, who hasn’t confronted a top-level fighter since 2017, he is aware of that is no assure of getting the combat he has wished for years.
“I really feel like [the WBC is] making this a title combat simply so I shut up, principally,” Benavidez stated.
The 25-year-old is nicely conscious that Alvarez probably will get promoted to WBC “franchise” champion, which is a elaborate approach of permitting Alvarez to retain his title with out having to make the obligatory protection.
What compounds Benavidez’s frustration is the truth that he has squandered the very momentum he is in search of. He has misplaced the WBC’s 168-bout belt twice — as soon as in 2018 for testing positive for cocaine and once more in 2020 when he failed to make weight for a title defense towards Roamer Alexis Angulo.
“He is on my s— listing and I’ll get to him, however till then he is gonna have to attend off to the facet like a great little boy as a result of he did not do what he was presupposed to do once more,” former tremendous middleweight champion Caleb Plant, chatting with FightHype in January 2021, stated of Benavidez.
Had Benavidez not misplaced the belt in ’20, he doubtless would have had a shot at Alvarez, who accomplished his 11-month journey of changing into an undisputed tremendous middleweight champion by plucking Plant’s belt final yr. That made Alvarez the primary Mexican fighter to turn into undisputed within the four-belt period.
Benavidez and Jermall Charlo are among the many most intriguing future choices for Alvarez, however as his current foray into the sunshine heavyweight division confirmed, Alvarez is seeking glory that Benavidez and Charlo cannot presently supply.
“I simply wish to be probably the greatest fighters within the historical past of boxing,” Alvarez informed ESPN in April. “That is why I would like to increase my legacy. To be there, proper?”
However there’s one other solution to construct momentum — a extra impactful approach: huge wins towards big-name opponents. Benavidez does have a victory over Anthony Dirrell, ESPN’s eighth-ranked fighter within the division. A scheduled 2021 showdown with Jose Uzcategui by no means materialized due to a positive COVID-19 test by Benavidez after which Uzcategui’s positive test for performance-enhancing drugs.
Benavidez stated he tried to barter for fights with Charlo, the WBC’s middleweight champion, and Plant, a rival who fought Canelo in ’21 as a result of he held one of many 168-pound belts. All three combat underneath the Premier Boxing Champions umbrella. Benavidez stated he contacted Luis DeCubas, Plant’s supervisor, and PBC head government Al Haymon, however these efforts had been to no avail.
“It is smart and it would be a really profitable combat for each [Charlo and Plant],” stated Benavidez, who added that every matchup would have offered even odds for all events concerned. “We are able to each make some huge cash. However these guys, they don’t seem to be assured as they are saying they’re, as they assume they’re.”
Benavidez is not missing confidence. After earlier slip-ups, he has elevated his dedication to being in prime situation, which implies chopping again on a few of his favorites — quick meals, Mountain Dew and cookie dough ice cream.
Fixing a weight loss plan is less complicated than the difficulty that limits the ceiling for Benavidez and different gifted fighters who need their likelihood to be amongst boxing’s prime attracts. Benavidez hopes a win over Lemieux this weekend helps him clear up the query so many are asking.