David Benavidez: ‘I want to prove I am the best fighter in the world at 168 pounds’
On Saturday, February 17, David Benavidez, 19-0 (17), will defend his WBC super middleweight title against Ronald Gavril, 18-2 (14), from the Mandalay Bay Events Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Benavidez-Gavril rematch is the co-feature to the battle that sees former world champions Danny Garcia and Brandon Rios in a welterweight showdown.
Benavidez became boxing’s youngest world champion, and the youngest ever in the super middleweight division, (at 20 years, 9 months) when he beat Gavril by split decision, on September 8, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Their September fight was a close, back-and-forth war and was certainly a contender for the “Fight of the year.”
While Benavidez wasn’t contractually committed to a rematch with Gavril, it was the fight his father and trainer Jose Benavidez Sr. wanted.
Some observers thought the first bout could have gone to either fighter, so it is clear that Benavidez and his team are fired up for the rematch to put a stamp on their last victory and prove their man is indeed the best fighter at 168 pounds.
UCNLive.com caught up with Benavidez and his father at their Oxnard, California, training camp, where they are busy preparing at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy. Without question, both father and fighter are looking forward to this first title defense.
“We are very excited for the first title defense,” said Jose. “Training camp is going great and we really wanted this fight. We didn’t have to give (Gavril) a rematch but some people said the first fight was close and we wanted to prove that we are the best at 168 pounds.”
While fans were impressed with Benavidez’s performance in their first fight, a slugfest that saw both fighters have their moments, Jose knows it wasn’t the best version of his son in there and fans are going to see an even better one, this time out.
“Just two weeks before the bout, David’s uncle was killed. He was very close to his uncle and that hit him really hard. He was really struggling but I was trying to keep him focused and keep his mind on the title fight. Then the week of the fight, he had a cold and was sick; he wasn’t feeling well. That wasn’t the best version of him in there and he is going to be much better for this bout. Camp has gone great; we have Alex Ariza in camp for nutrition and conditioning, so he is going to be in great shape come fight night,” said Jose.
While Benavidez concedes that the first fight was a good, close bout, he feels he clearly won and wants to put an exclamation mark on it with another victory on February 17.
“I thought it was a really good fight, a lot of action, but I thought I clearly won the fight,” said Benavidez. “Going into this fight, I really wanna prove I am the best and I am excited to get in the ring. I am the co-main event in Las Vegas, so that is a great card to be on. I am even more excited this time around.”
After spending 12 rounds with Gavril, he certainly knows who he is up against and has been preparing accordingly in camp.
“Gavril closes up really good; he has a really good defense”, said Benavidez, “so we have been working on some new things in camp to be more intelligent in our approach to him, this time. I think it is going to be a really tough fight. That is what we are expecting and what we are preparing for, another really tough bout.”
Asked for a prediction, Benavidez said, while he is prepared to go the distance, he’d love to end it beforehand.
“Well, I’d love to get a KO. I’m preparing myself for a really tough fight and am going to push myself very hard throughout the whole fight. Lots of pressure. I am going to push hard all night. It is going to be another great fight. I want to prove I am the best fighter in the world at 168 pounds.”