David Benavidez speaks from past experience in expecting a tough outing where most see a perceived mismatch.
The unbeaten former two-time super middleweight titlist from Phoenix, Arizona is treating his upcoming Showtime headliner versus Jose Uzcategui as if it is the biggest fight of his career. It is, in a way; the bout takes place August 28 at Footprint Center, home to the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and minutes from his home, marking his first true hometown headliner since becoming a championship caliber fighter.
It comes against a fellow former super middleweight titlist in Uzcategui (31-4, 26KOs), who endured a tough 2019 campaign with losses to Caleb Plant and Lionell Thompson. The 30-year-old Venezuelan—now based out of Tijuana— has since bounced back with a pair of confidence building wins, though Benavidez (24-0, 21KOs) chooses to recall the version he previously sparred earlier in their respective careers.
“That’s why I know this fight is going to be so good,” noted Benavidez during a recent virtual press conference to discuss the upcoming event. “That’s why I am telling everyone that I am excited for it, bro. I know his style for sure because I sparred him many years ago. I think I was like 19 years old and I believe that sparring session took place in Big Bear, California.
“We both know what we went into, we had a good sparring session. It was an amazing sparring session, and that’s how I know he’s got power. That’s why I know that I have to be 100% focused on this fight.”
Both went on to greater things in the division since that session.
Benavidez would claim his first major title one year later, edging Ronald Gavril in their September 2017 vacant WBC super middleweight title clash before earning a more convincing win in their rematch five months later. Benavidez would lose the belt outside the ring, regaining it with a ninth-round stoppage of Anthojy Dirrell in September 2019.
Uzcategui suffered a controversial disqualification loss to Andre Dirrell in their May 2017 interim title fight, one he was winning to that point and which he managed to avenge in their rematch eight months later.
Both would lose their belts through different means. Uzcategui dropped a competitive but clear decision to Plant in Jan. 2019. Benavidez saw first reign end with his being stripped after testing positive for cocaine, while his second stay as WBC titlist ended at the scale when he missed weight for an eventual tenth-round stoppage of Alexis Angulo last August in Uncasville, Connecticut. The bout with Uzctaegui will be his second since then, having lodged a stoppage win over Ronald Ellis this past March.
Another title shot is at stake with the clash versus Uzcategui, who is treating the session as his last chance to make a splash at super middleweight.
“That’s why I have made sure to have done everything in this training camp, insists Benavidez. “The same way I know his power he knows my power. I know that he’s motivated, I know that he’s coming 100%. We both know each other very well, we both know each other firsthand.
“We both became more mature after that sparring session… that’s why I am excited for this fight because I already know how that sparring session was. I am telling everyone not to miss out because this will be the fight of the year!”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox