24-year-old David Benavidez has big dreams and grand aspirations that mesh well with his prodigious skills and abilities. The problem is that, right now, weaknesses outside the ring– both perceived and real– are keeping him from being able to reach his goals.
The younger of the two boxing Benavidez brothers wants a legacy-defining fight and a next-level challenge to become the star he knows he can become. Primarily, he wants a blockbuster clash against super middleweight cash cow Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. He sees big things in pairing himself against Alvarez.
“I want them to mention me and Canelo, like they mention Manny and Floyd,” Benavidez told Sports Illustrated not too long ago. Recently, he’s even been mentioning the possibility of a legend-making trilogy with the Mexican star.
In theory, on paper, and in the scouting reports of many legit boxing experts, 24-year-old Benavidez is possibly the best super middleweight in the world, even in a 168 lb. class that includes pound-for-pound star Canelo at the very top.
As I wrote previously:
“Just one look at his genius-level offensive IQ should make any knowledgeable boxing person a true believer. Tall and lanky, he throws punches in bunches, varying placement and velocity, to create an offensive surge that, as I wrote elsewhere, is ‘equal parts hard to defend and difficult to resist.’
He moves well, defends well, and carries with him the poise and maturity of an elite-level, well-seasoned pro. Hell, he carries himself with MORE in-ring maturity and poise than many elite-level, well-seasoned pros.”
The problem is that Benavidez, a true boxing natural who made his pro debut at 16 years of age in Mexico, has not carried himself with poise and maturity OUTSIDE the ring. Not in the area of focus and discipline, anyway.
Not too long after becoming the youngest world champion in the sport, Benavidez lost his WBO title in 2018, after his first defense, when he tested positive for cocaine.
Two years later, after serving his suspension and then regaining the WBC title against veteran Anthony Dirrell, Benavidez failed to make weight in a cake title defense against Roamer Alexis Angulo and, again, was stripped of the title.
That gives Benavidez the dubious distinction of having twice lost a world title without suffering an actual defeat in the ring.
That also makes it infinitely easier for the other super middleweight players to avoid the kid like the plague.
Nobody of real note is ever going to fight him as long as he keeps giving off the vibe that he’s in the process of self-destructing. The top dogs in the division and beyond are just going to wait on his collapse. And that wait, right now, is made infinitely easier by the fact that Benavidez doesn’t have a world title belt around his waist.
IBF super middleweight titlist, Caleb Plant, who would be the ideal interim opponent to build towards a big Canelo clash, certainly seems to be playing the hand Benavidez dealt.
“Of course he feels like he can just jump the line again and get a world title fight,” Plant said of Benavidez, following his own recent title defense. “In his eyes he feels like he’s going to beat me and then get the Canelo fight, but boxing doesn’t work that way. He’s had his opportunities!”
Canelo Alvarez, meanwhile, rarely utters even the slightest peep about the former WBC champ whose vacated belt he scooped up in December’s victory over Callum Smith. And, really, can you blame him?
Why would Alvarez stick his freckled face into a hornet’s nest when Benavidez brings nothing to the table, not even a BS paper title? Why would he court that kind of risk if it’s very possible that the risk may remove itself?
Benavidez has a world of talent and a unique degree of natural aptitude for the fight game, but talent and aptitude mean little if they keep getting buried underneath personality quirks, lapses in judgment, and general lack of focus.
The good news is that the kid is only 24 and has a plenty of time to get things back on track.
The bad news, however, is that the kid is only 24 and there’s also plenty of time to mess things up.