By Keith Idec
David Benavidez decided after his first title fight that he needed to change his training regimen.
The WBC super middleweight champion is young and powerful, but knows he must have more in his proverbial tank than he had in the championship rounds during his split-decision victory over Ronald Gavril on September 8. That led the Phoenix native to hire strength and conditioning Alex Ariza to help him prepare for his rematch against Gavril on February 17 in Las Vegas.
Benavidez, his father/trainer Jose Benavidez Sr. and Ariza are working together in Oxnard, California, where they’re preparing for his first defense of the WBC 168-pound championship he won by beating Gavril.
“I just felt like once you become champion, you have to make a little bit of changes in your training,” Benavidez told BoxingScene.com following a press conference Tuesday in Los Angeles. “I felt like I was getting used to the training I’ve been doing and it really didn’t seem too hard. I felt like I had to bring him in. He’s doing stuff that’s extremely hard. It’s hell every day, but that’s exactly what I need to push myself to the next level.
“It will help me a lot. That’s one of the reasons why I brought Alex in for this training camp, because I knew in order to shine and turn it up to the next level in the late rounds, that’s the type of training I need to do. That’s exactly what I’m feel like I’m gonna do in the fight.”
By the time he arrives in Las Vegas for a fight Showtime will televise from Mandalay Bay Events Center, Benavidez (19-0, 17 KOs) will have spent roughly 12 weeks preparing for his second fight against Gavril (18-2, 14 KOs).
“I already have done a month-and-a-half of training and I still have six weeks left,” Benavidez said. “So I feel like I’m gonna be in great condition for this fight and more than ready to take this victory home.”
Benavidez already is sparring against light heavyweight contender Oleksandr Gvozdyk (14-0, 12 KOs). He’ll start sparring next week against WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs).
“I’ve been sparring with [Gvozdyk] for a couple weeks,” said Benavidez, who suffered a flash knockdown during the 12th round of his win against Gavril. “He’s a great boxer-puncher. He brings a little bit different style to the table, so it helps me think a lot more. It’s amazing sparring. It’s a pleasure working with him. … I’m training like an animal for this fight. We took it up to the next level this training camp and I’m gonna shine. I guarantee that.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.