By Keith Idec
Ronald Gavril took two important pieces of information from his first fight against David Benavidez.
Despite dropping a split decision to the unbeaten Benavidez, Gavril walked away from their 12-round fight September 8 certain that he is smarter and stronger than the precocious knockout artist.
Those are two of the primary reasons the Romanian-born boxer is so confident he’ll win the WBC super middleweight title from Benavidez (19-0, 17 KOs) in their rematch Saturday night at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
“His people tried to make him a superstar before he fought me,” Gavril said as part of an open workout Wednesday in Las Vegas. “I don’t know what people said after the first fight, but they should wait until after the rematch. I’m the stronger fighter.
“The difference in this fight is going to be who boxes smarter. I feel I’m the smarter fighter because if I need to box, I box. If I need to put pressure, I put pressure. I can adapt.”
A short, sneaky left hand Gavril landed dropped Benavidez with 55 seconds left in the final round of their fight five months ago at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Benavidez got right up from what appeared to be a flash knockdown and finished the fight strong.
Phoenix’s Benavidez beat Gavril (18-2, 14 KOs) on two of the three scorecards to win a split decision (117-111, 116-111, 111-116). The 21-year-old Benavidez predicted Wednesday that he’ll knock out Gavril in the fifth round this time.
Gavril believes their rematch will be a back-and-forth slugfest, somewhat like their first fight. The result, according to Gavril, will be quite different.
“I think this is going to be the fight of the year,” Gavril said. “It’s going to be special. The fans should all come see this fight because it’s going to be amazing, with two warriors.”
The 31-year-old Gavril knows he can’t knock Benavidez off his feet, but he hardly seems overconfident.
“I’m not looking for a knockout,” said Gavril, who’s promoted by Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s company. “I’m looking to win every round. But I also don’t want to leave it in the judges’ hands like last time, so we’ll see what happens Saturday.”
Showtime will broadcast the Benavidez-Gavril rematch just before a 12-round, 147-pound main event that’ll match Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) against Brandon Rios (34-3-1, 25 KOs), of Oxnard, California. The network’s tripleheader will begin at 10 p.m. ET with a 12-round IBF welterweight elimination match between Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas (20-3, 9 KOs) and Philadelphia’s Ray Robinson (24-2, 12 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.