David Benavidez was in a much better position prior to his last fight to plead his case as the best super middleweight in the world.
That stance softened the moment he stepped on a scale, weighing nearly three pounds above the 168-pound divisional limit, thus resulting in his becoming a former two-time WBC titlist before the opening bell. Benavidez went on to stop Alexis Angulo after the 10th round of a one-sided affair last August at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut where he returns to embark on a third title run.
“We’re chasing that belt. We’re chasing the WBC belt,” Benavidez insisted to BoxingScene.com ahead of his scheduled 12-round title eliminator versus Ronald Ellis (Saturday, SHOWTIME, 9:00 p.m. ET). “My focus right now is training hard and staying ready for anybody—literally anybody.
“I feel like at any moment, any big fight could be made so I have to stay ready for any opportunity that presents itself.”
Benavidez (23-0, 20KOs) was in prime position to hit the jackpot last summer. Had he made weight ahead of the fight with Angulo, next up would have been a mandatory title defense versus Avni Yildirim, whom Benavidez was expected to wipe out. By that point, Alvarez had already abandoned his middleweight reign with the intention of campaigning in the 168-pound division. Efforts were already taking place behind the scenes to set the stage for a massive showdown between Mexican icons, which could have taken place on either a May weekend celebrating Cinco de Mayo or a Saturday surrounding Mexican Independence Day in September.
Benavidez’s scale folly not only ruined those plans, but provided Alvarez with the leverage to take over the division without having to go through him. Alvarez has collected the WBC and WBA titles, with his sights now set on a May 8 showdown with WBO titlist Billy Joe Saunders. From there, the goal is to pursue the division’s longest-reigning titleholder—IBF champ Caleb Plant (21-0, 12KOs).
It’s a path that could have been made available to Benavidez, who instead has to accept the fact that he’s the one on the hunt rather than serving as the hunted.
“I have to give credit to where credit is due. Canelo is the best at 168 right now,” acknowledges Benavidez. “I feel like I am at number-two. I don’t think too highly about Caleb. I think he’s the least of the champions—but he is still a champion, so at the end of the day I still have to give him at least a little bit of credit.
“I feel like I’m the second best right behind Canelo.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox