GLENDALE, Arizona – The big fights at super middleweight are finally within reach for David Benavidez.
Just not the one he most desires.
Benavidez picked up his sixth straight knockout win following a third-round knockout of Montreal’s David Lemieux in their Showtime-televised main event Saturday evening at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Benavidez—who grew up in nearby Phoenix—collected the interim WBC super middleweight title, which should be his ticket to a clear shot at undisputed 168-pound champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
The sense from his team is that it’s wasted energy to pursue such a fight, even if the former two-time WBC super middleweight titlist isn’t ready to concede that battle.
“I was the number one contender when I won the title eliminator,” Benavidez told BoxingScene.com and other reporters during a post-fight press conference. “Now I won the interim title. So it’s two fights in a row where I’m supposed to be next for the title, to be the one who gets to fight Canelo.
“I definitely do feel like I deserve it. I put the work in, beat the challenges and the obstacles that they said I had to do to beat the world champion. I have the receipt that says I should get the fight, so we’ll see.”
Benavidez (26-0, 23KOs) was installed as the number-one contender following an eleventh-round stoppage of Ronald Ellis in their title eliminator last March 13 in Uncasville, Connecticut. Alvarez (57-2-2, 39KOs) was in the process of pursuing all of the reigning beltholders at the time, though Benavidez and promoter Sampson Lewkowicz sought a path where the unbeaten 25-year-old would be next in line once the final unification bout had taken place.
Alvarez found ways to circumvent the system, first claiming—through head trainer and manager Eddy Reynoso—an interest in pursuing the WBC cruiserweight title. That fight never happened, though approval to explore the route left Lewkowicz to request an interim title fight for Benavidez, which was approved by the sanctioning body.
Benavidez did his part to maintain his place at the front of the line, with the win over Lemieux (43-5, 36KOs) coming two weeks after Alvarez was outpointed by WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol. Alvarez hasn’t confirmed plans for his next fight, whether a rematch with Bivol—he has a contract clause that he has yet to exercise—or a trilogy bout with IBF/WBA middleweight titlist Genandiy Golovkin who would move up in weight.
That said, there are rules in place that could help force that decision, even if it means a follow-up conversation with. WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman and his championship committee.
“We’ve spoken to him already. If we have to speak to him again, we’ll do that,” insists Benavidez. “I’ll just let my promoter Sampson Lewkowicz handle that. He’s a Picasso in boxing. We’ll let him take care of that.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox