Showtime results: David Benavidez wins the vacant WBC super middleweight title
At 20 years old, David Benavidez became the youngest world titleholder in boxing on Friday night, after earning a split decision victory over Ronald Gavril to claim the vacant WBC super middleweight belt. The contest was the main event of a Showtime card held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“I started off to see if I could knock him out and wanted to see how tough (Gavril’s) chin was,” Benavidez told Showtime analyst Al Bernstein in the post-fight interview. “I didn’t get reckless in the first (few) rounds but then I wanted to work a little more on defense. We were going 12 rounds and it was my first (full) 12-round fight. I hurt him those last four rounds and was thinking, ‘I want to close this but that can come around and bite me in the ass.’ I got a little reckless. I got knocked down. I came back up and could’ve went five more rounds. The dude is a tough fighter. Hats off to him – we got a great fight.”
Benavidez, 19-0 (17), described the fight exactly how it played out. It started out a jab-fest in the opening round but one thudding right hand around Gavril’s guard made it obvious that he had the advantage in power. Gavril, a Romanian national fighting out of Las Vegas, smartly started going to Benavidez’s softer body in the second but he couldn’t get away from the strong combinations coming from “El Bandera Roja.” After feeling Gavril’s power by the fourth round, Benavidez was comfortable enough to encourage him to come forward with his back on the ropes.
Gavril, 18-2 (14), took the clean head shots well but a left-handed body shot made him squirm for a moment. It was looking to be a one-sided fight at that pace but Benavidez seemed to take the sixth round off and let Gavril gather some momentum and, most importantly, confidence. Still focusing on the body, Gavril’s consistent volume of shots in the middle rounds kept them close but the Benavidez’s demeanor clearly changed, going into the 10th. There, Benavidez threw a lazy combo, indicating his tiring but closed the round well enough to show he may have been pacing himself. In the championship rounds, Benavidez stepped on the gas, returning to his dominant form in the 11th and all the way up to the final minute of the fight until he ran into a left hand for a flash knockdown. Benavidez smiled, once getting up, showing he was just fine after making a mistake and managed to land a left or two while Gavril tried to finish him off.
It took awhile for them to get tallied but the two scores of 117-111 and 116-111 overruled the lone score for Gavril (116-111) – making Benavidez the youngest man in the world to hold a world title.
“This fight is in tribute to my uncle – he passed away during my training camp – but it’s a very amazing feeling,” Benavidez said about the big win. “I did this for him and all my people in Phoenix, Arizona.”
J’Leon Love and Abraham Han fought to a technical majority draw in the co-feature, after an accidental headbutt in the eighth round forced a nasty cut to stop the fight early. The super middleweight contest was scheduled for 10 rounds.
About a minute into the eighth, Love lunged in with a right hand but his head collided with Han’s to create a large gash near the left side of his scalp. In a delayed reaction, Han went to his knees, once realizing the amount of blood was spewing out of his forehead, and rolled around on the canvas after referee Kenny Bayless called time out to assess the situation. It was ruled accidental and sent to the cards but they were read after Han was wheeled out on a stretcher.
Two scores of 76-76 overruled the 79-73 card for Love and perhaps Han was glad he wasn’t there for everyone to see his disappointment.
Han, 26-3-1 (16), enjoyed a good outing – keeping Love tight throughout the bout by constantly switching stances and almost never showing the same offensive move twice. Love, 23-1-1 (13), got off to a very slow start but gradually started to find his range in the fourth, with right hands that were too few and far between to clearly earn him a round through the sixth. Although it was a technical chess match, the fight was competitive until the fight’s abrupt end, leaving an odd result where the house fighter seemed to have gotten away with an off night. He didn’t go completely unscathed, however, as Love also left with a cut above his left eye but the damage paled in comparison to Han’s.
In the opening bout of the Showtime telecast, Caleb “Sweet Hands” Plant earned a shutout unanimous decision over Andrew Hernandez after 10 rounds.
Plant, 16-0 (10), who is ranked No. 11 in the IBF’s super middleweight rankings, boxed well enough to receive a score of 100-90 on all three judges’ scorecards and pretty much did so with just his lead left hand. The jab set the distance but the lead hook caught Hernandez when creeping inside. Plant’s advantageous hand speed was made well aware quickly in the fight and not only did that make it tough for Hernandez to catch up but Plant was always sure to mind his defense.
Hernandez, 19-7-1 (9), a late replacement fighting on one week’s notice, didn’t have a competitive round until the fifth but that mostly stemmed from Plant showcasing his shoulder roll. Plant started to unleash an overhand right hand that seemed to inflict more damage and even garnered a time out by referee Russell Mora that welcomed a visit from the doctor at ringside. Hernandez pleaded with officials to let him finish the 10th round and although he ultimately achieved a moral victory in surviving, Plant put on an exhibition.