Perhaps there hasn’t been enough attention, or enough hype leading up to this, but David Benavidez is about to become the youngest super middleweight champion of all time.
No disrespect to Ronald Gavril, but for experts in the sport, it would be a huge upset if Benavidez doesn’t become the only 20 year old to become world champion at a 168 pounds in the history of the division. Benavidez is a huge favorite at -2200 and Gavirl at
+800 at the books in Las Vegas. Gavril is a fighter who takes punches in just about all of his fights, isn’t particularly fast and doesn’t hit particularly hard. He’s a tough guy, a solid guy, but Benavidez looks to be a potentially spectacular fighter on the rise.
Historically, a young phenom like Benavidez bombs out a solid guy like Gavril in his first world title outing such as Oscar De La Hoya did with Jimmy Bredahl or Tommy Hearns with Pipino Cuevas. It’s hard to see Gavril being anything but a stepping stone on Friday night for Benavidez. As a matter of fact it would surprise many at ringside if Gavril goes the distance or even close to it when he steps into the ring with Benavidez. Of Benavidez’s (18-0 17 KOs,) 17 KOs, 13 of them went inside of 2 rounds. He is a legitimately big puncher in both hands to both the head and the body.
But as talented as he is, Benavidez is still 3 months shy of his 21st birthday, and being a world champion and all that goes with it could potentially be too much for a man of his age.
Benavidez however, isn’t worried: “I don’t think it’s too much too soon” Says Benavidez, “Because now I know exactly what it takes to get to this moment. Now I know how real training feels, how real training camp feels. I just feel like I’m gonna improve from here, especially when I win that title. It’s going to give me more motivation to fight these other champions and become
a great in my sport. Because thats always been my dream: I want to be a legend, and thats what I’m trying to do.”
When reminded that Mike Tyson was the same age when he won the same WBC world title that Benavidez will be vying for, but in the heavyweight division, Benavidez again reiterated that it won’t be too much for him: “Tyson, when he won the WBC title how much was he making? 20 million? 20 years old making 20 million then you have a problem you know? But I don’t wanna be a could-have-been, I want to be a great, and thats what we’re gonna do.”
Critics of Benavidez have even agreed that he’s a dynamic offensive talent, and a good talent in general. But they say he hasn’t shown the same promise defensively as he has offensively, and as with all good young fighters, they need to see him in with better competition. Ronald Gavril doesn’t quite fit the bill for the level of quality opposition those experts and fans alike will be talking about, but if Benavidez bombs out Gavril in dominant fashion it will definitely make a statement.
Along with fellow under-21 phenoms, Devin Haney (16-0, 11 KOs) and Shakur Stevenson (3-0, 1 KO), David Benavidez looks to be the best young fighter on the rise from the United States.
Should Benavidez get past Ronald Gavril, Benavidez will look to unify within 2-3 years where matchups with fighters such as James Degale, Callum Smith and Gilberto Ramirez will be awaiting him. “I say 2-3 years I’ll be able to unify the titles. My first goal is to win the title, then after that unifying the titles, that would be great. I would love to fight any of them (the champions).
And what does Benavidez think of looking even further past that, towards the best fighter pound for pound, Andre Ward?
“That would be one of my dream fights, before he goes out, we gotta win these titles first. But if we can get a piece of Andre Ward, then we’ll get a piece of Andre Ward. I would love that fight.”
But before we can get to any potential mouth watering matchups such as Benavidez-Degale, or Benavidez against undefeated world champion Gilberto Ramirez, whom Benavidez even sparred for several sessions heading into this fight with Gavril, or the fight we’d be years away from having any remote chance of happening, Benavidez-Ward, “La Bandera Roja” will have to take care of business first and make good on his tremendous promise as a young fighter Friday night at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas against Ronald Gavril.
If he does just that, it will be a history making performance. Perhaps, it will be the first of many signature performances of a future Boxing great.