David Benavidez avoided his birthday until his third birthday when he won his first world title. He has fought seven times over five years since that victory over Ronald Gavril in 2017, going 7-0 with six knockouts to establish himself as one of boxing’s brightest young stars.
But, as Benavidez sees it, everything happened during his apprenticeship. He turned professional at the tender age of 16, at his age he worked hard with his friends so that they would ask their girlfriends to go to the prom with them. Benavidez paid off his boxing journey with great confidence and faith in the future, even if he didn’t know what to expect.
On Saturday (9 p.m. ET, Showtime PPV) at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, Benavidez will have the most dangerous fight of his career when he defends his interim WBC super middleweight title against Caleb Plant. He fought for 10 months with the last, the third stoppage of the veteran David Lemieux, but his life slipped away.
Benavidez is finally where he wants to be as he prepares for the Planta fight.
“I feel like I’m moving into my prime right now,” said Benavidez, who is now 26 and ready to turn that potential into performance. “I felt like a veteran boy because I was a professional for so long. I’m coming to a decade now that I’ve been a professional. I turned professional at 16. I’ve done everything coming up, I’ve learned everything, I’ve experienced everything.
“Now I’m coming into my first. I feel very strong. I feel very fast. Mind, you know I think really good in the gym. I enjoy every single moment of it. I’m very happy with what I’ve been through and I feel this is the perfect time to make this fight” .
He grew up in the spotlight and was around boxing most of his life. His older brother, Jose Jr., is a former world champion who once fought King Terence Crawford one pound for the welterweight title.
Expectations around him were extremely high, even as a teenager struggling to get his weight under control. Before he turned himself in, he weighed 250 pounds and used his talent to get into shape.
He’s been scrutinized throughout his life, but he said he’s never denied the attention or expectations of others. She was kidnapped when she won the title as a 20-year-old, but she was able to take it in stride.
“I never felt an extra weight on my shoulders,” Benavidez told Yahoo Sports. “I just had to live up to expectations and he always definitely motivated me and gave me the drive to get where I am today. Like I said I’m undefeated 26-0 with 23 hits. This is my first pay-per-view [as a headliner] so I feel second wind in my career. Chat but it’s very painful. The stars are aligning and everything is where it’s supposed to be and now it’s time to shine.
Defeating Planta would be huge for Benavidez. Plant is 22-1 with 13 KOs and his only defeat coming at the hands of Canelo Alvarez. Not only did Planta put up a good fight against Alvarez before being stopped in the 11th, but he brought back the best scores of all men in 2022 against veteran Anthony Dirrell.
A lot of silly discussion ensued between Benavidez and Planta coming out, but Benavidez shook it off. All this is expected and it is one thing that he has benefited from fighting at such an advanced age.
He believes they are ready to take things to the next level with Planta on Saturday. Benavidez is the favorite at BetMGM, with Planta at +240.
“I turned 26 and now I’m finally starting to do these fights, so I feel like this is the beginning of the second coming of my life,” said Benavidez. “I’m starting these fights and I know after this fight, I’ll have nothing but great fights to come. It’s good that I stayed focused and kept and prepared. I put this work in because I knew what it was. Now I’m going to do everything I said I was going to do when I was a little kid and that I would be the avenger.”