A year after testing positive for cocaine cost him the WBC super middleweight title, David Benavidez is back in position to regain it.
If Benavidez beats Anthony Dirrell on September 28, the undefeated Phoenix native is certain that the ordeal has better prepared him to behave like a champion inside and outside the ring this time around.
“What’s changed is that, you know, is I’m more mature,” Benavidez said Monday during a conference call. “You know, I feel like the situation did more good for me than bad. You know, and it’s made me realize that everything can be lost. … It definitely took that to mature me and see that I’m not gonna work my whole life, have my whole life’s work taken away. So, I’m more dedicated. I value things way more, you know, and this is just a part of life.”
Benavidez, 22, immediately embraced responsibility for his actions and acknowledged that his behavior hurt his team, not just him. He is ready to make it up to them against Dirrell, who has lost only a 12-round majority decision to Badou Jack in April 2015.
“I feel like I’m older,” Benavidez said. “I’m stronger than last year. I’m faster than last year. I’m smarter. You know, my boxing IQ is growing, and now, you know, when I’m put in these types of situations, you know, I’ve never been in, the best comes out of me. You know, this is my second pay-per-view fight and I’m gonna be co-headlining. This is where I’ve wanted to be at my whole life, so I’m gonna take full advantage of this situation.”
Handicappers have installed Benavidez (21-0, 18 KOs) as a 7-1 favorite versus Dirrell (33-1-1, 24 KOs). The 34-year-old Dirrell, of Flint, Michigan, won the title that was taken from Benavidez last October 3 when he defeated Turkey’s Avni Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) by technical decision February 23 in Minneapolis.
The Dirrell-Benavidez bout will be one of four fights FOX Sports will distribute as part of a pay-per-view telecast a week from Saturday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.