The immediate discussion amongst the team for David Benavidez regarding his future at super middleweight was that he would have to be put to the test in order to remain in the division.
From that slightly awkward conversation came the hard part—finding the right opponent for his first fight back following his second title reign.
Benavidez’s upcoming bout versus Ronald Ellis marks his first fight back since losing his title at the scale after missing weight ahead of his eventual 10th round knockout of Alexis Angulo last August at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The unbeaten former two-time super middleweight titlist—who came in nearly three pounds above the divisional limit—was presented with the opportunity to campaign at light heavyweight and for a title shot within two fights.
The 24-year-old Phoenix native instead made the decision to continue to fight at 168-pounds—even if ultimately settling for Ronald Ellis (18-1-2, 12KOs) more so than facing a desired target.
“He wasn’t the first choice,” Benavidez admitted to BoxingScene.com. “I was supposed to fight Lionel Thompson but he didn’t want the fight. Then we were supposed to fight (former titlist) Jose Uzcategui but he didn’t want the fight either.
“So, the next person was Ronald Ellis. He’s the only one who accepted the fight.”
The bout airs this Saturday on Showtime atop a televised tripleheader, also taking place at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Ellis has managed a pair of wins over recognizable names in each of his last two starts.
The 31-year-old fringe contender from Lynn, Massachusetts scored a 10-round majority decision over Immanuwel Aleem in their Dec. 2019 clash, followed by a 4th round injury stoppage over former title challenger Matvey Korobov last December. Ellis was trailing on the scorecards after four rounds, by which point Korobov was unable to continue after injuring his left Achilles tendon in their Showtime televised clash last December.
Benavidez is generally regarded as one of the best super middleweights in the world and would be a significant favorite over just about any other fighter at the weight. This weekend seems to be more about whether he can still comfortably make 168-pounds not just for this fight but long enough to position himself for a third title reign. The ultimate goal is a dream fight with pound-for-pound king and current unified super middleweight titlist Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, for which Benavidez was hoping to face another significant opponent in building toward such an event.
“To be honest, I would have accepted a fight with Jermall Charlo,” Benavidez notes of the unbeaten WBC middleweight title claimant who could be fighting at super middleweight in the near future. “We’re both in training camp at the same time. That fight could’ve been made happen. Even a fight with [IBF super middleweight titlist Caleb Plant could’ve been made happen. He just fought (on January 30th). We’re in the training camp at the same time.
“Honestly I’m just ready for whoever comes my way. The training camp I’ve had was basically a world title training camp. I’m not overlooking Ronald Ellis at all. I’ve worked as hard as I can and I’m just ready to perform and to have a great fight on March 13th.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox