By Keith Idec

ARLINGTON, Texas – David Benavidez battered J’Leon Love mercilessly Saturday night.

The big, strong super middleweight hammered Love with various vicious punches for four-plus minutes, until referee Laurence Cole stepped in to stop their scheduled 10-round bout. Love never went down, but Benavidez blasted him with one punishing shot after another at AT&T Stadium.

An overhand right by Benavidez badly hurt Love a little over a minute into the second round. Benavidez attacked him and hit Love with several more power punches.

Cole stopped Benavidez’s onslaught at 1:14 of the second round. Detroit’s Love lost by knockout for just the second time in his eight-year pro career and slipped to 24-3-1 (13 KOs, 1 NC).

Benavidez’s victory was the co-featured fight before FOX Sports Pay-Per-View televised the Errol Spence Jr.-Mikey Garcia welterweight championship match from the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.

The 22-year-old Benavidez (21-0, 18 KOs) fought for the first time in almost exactly 13 months. He hadn’t fought since defeating Ronald Gavril by unanimous decision in their 12-round, 168-pound championship rematch in February 2018 in Las Vegas.

The WBC made Phoenix’s Benavidez its champion in recess once he tested positive for cocaine late in August.

He called out Anthony Dirrell following his victory over Love. Dirrell (33-1-1, 24 KOs), who was seated ringside, won a technical split decision against Turkey’s Avni Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) on February 23 in Minneapolis to win the WBC super middleweight title.

Dirrell figures to give Benavidez a much more difficult fight than Love.

Benavidez bombarded Love with numerous power punches late in the first round. That dizzying blitz of overhand rights and left hooks left Love bobbing, weaving and looking for cover. Love responded with several power shots of his own toward the end of the round, yet nothing that impacted Benavidez.

An aggressive Benavidez picked up right where he left off at the start of the second round. Less than halfway into it, their fight was over.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.