The softer touch was always there for David Benavidez.
Fights with Caleb Plant, David Morrell and Jermall Charlo were long in the sights of the former two-time WBC super middleweight titlist. In fact, he called out all three following his previous fight, when Benavidez knocked out David Lemieux to claim the interim WBC 168-pound title. The win came in front of an adoring local crowd at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona, just outside his childhood hometown.
The sense by night’s end was that his next one had to be a big fight, hence the demand to fight any of the aforementioned trio. Months passed by before Benavidez (26-0, 23KOs) was instead offered a bout with faded former IBF super middleweight titlist Jose Uzcategui. That just wasn’t going to cut it.
“That’s why I was really worried,” Benavidez told BoxingScene.com. “I kind of got in trouble when I did an interview and was talking about what fights I was being offered. But if you go back and listen, I wasn’t talking bad about PBC, I was talking about the fighters that were making us look bad. I was frustrated. I wanted to get a fight with David Morrell in November. That didn’t happen so I was really frustrated. So, they just kind of caught me at the “right” time. I was frustrated and it came out of me.”
The risky conversation came with the reward. Benavidez was given the option of bypassing what would have been the boxing equivalent of an open lane layup to instead enter a head-on clash with one of the fighters on his hit list.
A follow-up conversation with adviser Al Haymon led to an agreed-upon showdown with Plant (22-1, 13KOs), a former IBF 168-pound titlist whom Benavidez will face atop a March 25 Showtime Pay-Per-View from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas,
Benavidez and Plant previously enjoyed overlapping title reigns and years’ worth of two-way hostility. What never came of it was an actual fight. That pattern threatened to extend through this spring until Benavidez spoke his mind.
“To be honest, that’s what made the fight happen,” insisted Benavidez. “Al Haymon called a couple of days later and asked me straight up, ‘What do you want to do, David? Do you want to fight Uzcategui or do you want to go straight into a fight with Caleb Plant?’I told Al I wanted to go straight into the fight with Caleb Plant. He respected that and he made it happen. I was vocal about not being happy. It all played out in my favor.
“But before then, yeah there was a time where I was like, fuck it. If these fights don’t happen I just have to move up to 175. The thing about this is, I can milk this. I get paid well. I can fight whoever I want. But I don’t want to lose fans. I don’t want to be the type of fighter that fans start talking shit about, complaining that we’re wasting their money by not giving them the fights the deserve. I care a lot about my fans and want to give them the best fights.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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