LAS VEGAS – The trainer of David Morrell Jr. signed off on his fighter facing David Benavidez on Saturday night if Benavidez would’ve wanted to oppose a southpaw that Ronnie Shields considers even better than Demetrius Andrade.

Shields informed during an open workout Wednesday at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino that Benavidez’s handlers turned down Morrell as an opponent prior to choosing Andrade. Phoenix’s Benavidez (27-0, 23 KOs) will defend his WBC interim super middleweight title against Andrade (32-0, 19 KOs), of Providence, Rhode Island, in the 12-round main event of a Showtime Pay-Per-View telecast from Mandalay Bay’s Michelob ULTRA Arena.

“When I first started training [Morrell], after the very first fight, they came and they offered a fight with David Benavidez in the next fight,” Shields recalled. “I told [Morrell’s] managers no. I said, ‘No. Why would I wanna do that right now, when I only got one fight with him?’ So, now he’s got nine fights.

“But after my third fight with him, I said, ‘Make the fight, because now I feel more comfortable that he’s understanding and paying attention to what I want him to do.’ I couldn’t do it after the first fight. It takes a couple fights, you know? And David kept [improving], so I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ ”

Benavidez’s representatives instead picked Andrade as the first left-handed opponent Benavidez will box in more than seven years. Andrade remains undefeated and has won world titles in the junior middleweight and middleweight divisions, but he is 35 years old, nine years older than Benavidez and 10 years older than Morrell.

Sampson Lewkowicz, Benavidez’s promoter, told on Wednesday that the main reason Benavidez couldn’t fight Morrell on Saturday night is because Benavidez would’ve had to give up his WBC interim super middleweight title to do it.

The interim championship Benavidez owns is his leverage to try to force undisputed 168-pound champion Canelo Alvarez into finally fighting him. Morrell, as a WBA belt-holder, is not ranked by the WBC and boxing’s sanctioning organizations typically don’t approve unification bouts between interim and/or secondary champions.

“When they offered the fight to them, they said no,” Shields said in reference to Benavidez’s handlers. “They said, ‘Nobody knows him.’ I said, ‘Hold up. Nobody knows him now? Why didn’t nobody know him when he had five fights? They knew him much less then.’ So, I said, ‘You know what? Let’s go on to the next one.’ ”

The next one for Morrell (9-0, 8 KOs) is Ghana’s Sena Agbeko (28-2, 22 KOs), who is a huge underdog in advance of their 12-round fight for Morrell’s WBA world super middleweight title. Showtime will televise Morrell-Agbeko as the main event of a three-bout broadcast December 16 from The Armory in Minneapolis.

Shields envisions Benavidez-Morrell materializing at some point, just not in the foreseeable future, particularly with the historically significant, lucrative Alvarez showdown at least a possibility for Benavidez in 2024 if he defeats Andrade.

“I don’t think they want the fight,” Shields said. “I think they realize that Morrell is a different monster now. He’s not the same guy they saw when he had five fights. I think they see something different. And I know David is different. And they know it, so I really, truly don’t think they want the fight. But eventually it’s gonna happen. I don’t think it’ll be at ’68. I really believe they will fight, but I think it’ll be at light heavyweight. I think in a year’s time they’ll both be at light heavyweight. I really, truly believe that.”

Shields also trains WBC middleweight champ Jermall Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs), who will battle Jose Benavidez Jr. (28-2-1, 19 KOs) in a non-title fight Saturday night. Charlo-Benavidez is the 10-round, 163-pound co-feature of Showtime’s four-bout broadcast (8 p.m. ET; 5 p.m. PT; $74.99).

David Benavidez was a 4-1 favorite Wednesday to beat Andrade, according to BetMGM sportsbook, which listed Charlo as more than an 8-1 favorite to beat Benavidez’s older brother.

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