GLENDALE, Arizona – David Benavidez was afforded the opportunity to hear the cheers of a raucous hometown crowd for his second straight fight.

Moments like these continue to resonate with the unbeaten former two-time WBC super middleweight titlist, who claimed an interim version of the belt following a third-round knockout of Montreat’s David Lemieux (43-5, 36KOs) this past Saturday at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Benavidez grew up in nearby Phoenix, where he headlined six months ago in a seventh-round stoppage of Kyrone Davis at Footprint Center which is home to the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.

“I just want to thank everyone who came out,” Benavidez said of the adoring crowd, an estimated 6,000 or so packing the entire lower bowl and showing love throughout the Showtime main event. “What really makes me happy is that I can bring all these people to this stadium. It’s crazy, they all came to see me and they all left happy and excited to come back to my next fights here. That’s what means a lot to me. I’m able to give the fans the fights they want to see, the action they demand.”

The back-to-back local headliners come as a consolation to a canceled April 2020 hometown title defense. Benavidez (26-0, 23KOs) was due to make the first defense of his second WBC title reign, only for the pandemic to shut down those plans. Showtime resumed its boxing schedule later that August, though with its next several shows set up in a bubble at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Benavidez’s fight with Alexis Angulo was relocated to that location, only for the unbeaten titlist to badly mistime his weight cut as he came in well over the limit and left his belt at the scales. Benavidez went on to stop Angulo after ten one-sided rounds, having since positioned himself as the interim titlist and mandatory challenger to his old title now in the possession of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (57-2-2, 39KOs).

Until he is able to make that fight happen—which for now is much closer to “if” than “when”—the red-hot super middleweight is grateful that he always be made to feel like a champion at home.

“If it wasn't for my people from Arizona, then I wouldn't be here,” admits Benavidez, who lived in Phoenix until he was 17. “It's surreal to me. I'm going to give my heart in the ring for all of you every day.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox