David Benavidez understood the concerns surrounding his career after badly missing weight ahead of his last fight.
He just wasn’t ready to accept the notion that his time at super middleweight ended at the scale.
“I just didn’t feel it was time for me to fight at light heavyweight,” Benavidez told BoxingScene.com ahead of his upcoming Showtime-televised headliner this weekend. “There is still a lot of work to do at 168. I want to fight here for at least a few more years.”
Assuming all goes well at the weigh-in on Friday, Benavidez (23-0, 20KOs) will be fighting at super middleweight at least through his next fight. The former two-time WBC super middleweight titlist will face Ronald Ellis (18-1-2, 12KOs) in a scheduled 12-round title eliminator this Saturday from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. A win will put the 24-year-old Phoenix native one step closer toward fighting for his old title.
It was at this very venue where Benavidez would see his second title reign come to an unceremonious close. The unbeaten boxer weighed nearly three pounds above the 168-pound divisional limit ahead of his eventual 10th round stoppage of Alexis Angulo last August. Benavidez remained unbeaten, though ineligible to next fight for the title he was forced to vacate.
The WBC instead ordered a vacant title fight between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim. A deal was struck which allowed Alvarez (54-1-2, 37KOs) to first face then-unbeaten WBA titlist Callum Smith, whom he outpointed to win the WBA belt and vacant WBC strap last December. The Mexican icon then tore through Yildirim in their mandatory title fight this past February in Miami Gardens, Florida.
At the time of the initially ordered title fight, the WBC also inserted Benavidez as its number-one contender in the light heavyweight rankings. It wasn’t a move Benavidez was yet ready to make, though was willing to consider for at least a one-off fight.
“If the opportunity presented itself like against Jean Pascal or Badou Jack, I was willing to go to 175,” admits Benavidez. “But I didn’t hear anything on either of those fights. When I first came over to Big Bear for training camp, those were the initial fights I wanted to take. I didn’t hear anything about it when I talked to the team. So, I told them, ‘Let’s (stay) at 168.’
“I felt like if I go up to 175, I’m gonna like it too much. I (was) basically at light heavyweight (earlier in training camp). My worry is that I get too comfortable at that weight. I can still make 168, I just made mistakes in my last training camp and not understanding how [the Mohegan Sun] bubble worked as far as last-minute training before the weigh-in. Now we know what to expect, so making 168-pounds won’t be an issue anymore.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox