By Keith Idec
David Benavidez delivered Saturday night.
The precocious champion dominated Ronald Gavril in their super middleweight championship rematch at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Benavidez couldn’t knock out his courageous challenger, but that was more of a testament to Gavril’s toughness than anything.
All three judges credited Benavidez for his offensive diversity and for remaining in control throughout their 12-round bout.
Glenn Feldman (120-108), Robert Hoyle (120-108) and Julie Lederman (119-109) scored the fight for Benavidez by large margins. Feldman and Hoyle scored all 12 rounds for Benavidez, while Lederman gave Gavril one round.
Phoenix’s Benavidez improved to 21-0 and made the first defense of his WBC 168-pound championship. The 21-year-old Benavidez defeated Gavril (18-3, 14 KOs) by split decision to win that title in their first fight five months ago at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Gavril dropped Benavidez late in the 12th round of their September 8 battle. He had no such success Saturday night, when Benavidez’s versatility, power and improved stamina helped the champion convincingly win their rematch and make the first defense of his WBC 168-pound championship.
Benavidez beat Gavril on two of the three scorecards in their first fight (117-111, 116-111, 111-116). He tired down the stretch in that bout, though, and added well-known strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza to his team in preparation for their rematch.
In better condition, Benavidez seemed strong throughout their second bout. Benavidez showed Showtime’s camera a severely swollen middle right knuckle during his post-fight interview and said the swelling prohibited him from throwing it later in the one-sided fight.
Gavril gave him some trouble in the 12th round, in which Benavidez didn’t throw many punches. Overall, however, Benavidez had an easier time in their rematch.
A ringside physician allowed Gavril to continue after examining him prior to the start of the 11th round.
Benavidez battered the game Gavril throughout the ninth round with head and body shots from various angles. It seemed that every time Gavril landed a punch, Benavidez threw back combinations that made Gavril go into a defensive shell.
Gavril couldn’t capitalize when he moved Benavidez against the ropes during the second half of the eighth round. Benavidez defended himself well and came back firing with power punches to the head and body, which moved Gavril backward.
Gavril tried to hurt Benavidez to the body again in the seventh round, only to have Benavidez guard well against those shots. Gavril did land a straight right hand to Benavidez’s head in the seventh, but Benavidez took that shot well.
Benavidez controlled most of the fifth round, until Gavril drilled him with a left hook to the body, followed by an overhand right to the head that made Benavidez shake his head to acknowledge the effectiveness of that combination.
Benavidez blasted Gavril with a right-uppercut/left-hook combination early in the fourth round that caused Gavril to lose his balance and hold Benavidez. Gavril got his legs back later in the round, but Benavidez continued to land an array of punches that enabled him to take complete control of the fight at that point.
Gavril was persistent with his body attack in the third round, but Benavidez often fended him off by unloading combinations that backed him up several times.
Benavidez appeared comfortable in the first two rounds as well, when he threw various punches that kept Gavril from landing too many clean punches as the challenger pressed forward.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.