David Benavidez and Avni Yildirim have a fight date—and their handlers already have a hunger for the matchup.
The mandatory World Boxing Council (WBC) super middleweight fight will take place Jan. 25, handlers for both boxers confirmed to BoxingScene.com on Wednesday. Neither a location nor platform has yet to be assigned to the bout, although both sides have agreed to all terms.
“David Benavidez is honored to face Avni Yildirim for his first title defense, he deserves the shot at David’s title,” Sampson Lewkowicz, Benavidez’s promoter told BoxingScene.com. “Avni gave a really tough fight to Anthony Dirrell and everyone believes, if the fight was not stopped by the cut (suffered by Dirrell) then Avni was on his way to stopping him.”
Yildirim (21-2, 12KOs) came up just short in a vacant title fight versus Dirrell this past February. The 28-year old from Istanbul was coming on late, only for the bout to be stopped due to a horrific cut over Dirrell’s eye due to an earlier clash of heads. Yildirim suffered a split decision defeat, but successfully lobbied to get the winner of the WBC- mandated fight between Dirrell and Benavidez (22-0, 19KOs), who previously held the title before having to relinquish after testing positive for cocaine in Sept. 2018. A six-month suspension followed, with the unbeaten Mexican-American from Phoenix, Arizona—who turns just 23 in December—bouncing back with two knockout wins in 2019. The latter of the two was a 9th round stoppage of Dirrell this past September to reclaim his old title, with the first order of business now coming against an all too eager Yildirim.
“Easy fight to make.” Ahmet Oner, Yildirim’s promoter told BoxingScene.com. “I can’t wait to see Sampson’s face after the fight. This a mature man versus a young unbeaten fighter with too much pride. Benavidez is a very nice, respectful young man. He’s a gentleman… but he is not ready, in my eyes, for Avni.”
It’s unclear as this goes to publish whether this will serve as a supporting bout on a previously planned Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event or if it will headline a Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Fox primetime telecast. The date was tentatively reserved for a targeted welterweight clash between unbeaten unified titlist Errol Spence Jr. (26-0, 21KOs) and former two-division title claimant Danny Garcia (35-2, 21KOs). Those plans were scuttled, however, after Spence was hospitalized from injuries sustained in a car crash near his Desoto, Texas home. The 29-year old fortunately avoided suffering any long-term injuries, but will not be healed in time to return until the end of the first quarter of 2020 at the earliest.
Whether this bout assumes the headlining slot off PPV or remains part of another show, it hasn’t at all changed the fighting mood.
“Avni deserves the mandatory title fight and it will be our honor to send him back home with another loss,” insists Lewkowicz. “He will come from Turkey as a challenger, and we will send him home as a turkey sandwich.”
Yildrim’s side has a different vision.
“That’s fine, Avni loves Mexican food,” quipped Oner.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox