Thursday, May 26, 2022

Did Benavidez Make A Convincing Argument?

It should be no surprise to anyone who has followed the sport of Boxing for any extended period of time when yours truly says that it is a sport that does not necessarily have a fair structure when it comes to fighters getting the type of opportunities that one could say that they deserve. To be more specific, opportunities that are not only against the top fighters in the sport, but perhaps more importantly, fights that offer the kind of pay days that could be considered life changing.

In recent weeks, the biggest story that has circulated around the sport and by far, the topic most discussed amongst fans and experts alike, has been WBA World Light-Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol’s twelve round unanimous decision over current Undisputed Super-Middleweight world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Despite a clear victory in retaining his title for the ninth time, Bivol’s victory over Alvarez has no barring at least for now with regard to the Undisputed world championship that Alvarez holds in the 168lb. Super-Middleweight division.

In the case of undefeated former two-time WBC Super-Middleweight world champion David Benavidez, his current standing as tge World Boxing Council's (WBC) number one contender would on the surface make him a potential opponent for Alvarez. What appears on the surface however,  is not always what occurs. For there are some circumstances where a top contender is not included in the potential plans for a fighter in Alvarez’ position.  Unfortunately for Benavidez, he finds himself in such a circumstance as Alvarez is likely to spend the immediate future resuming his rivalry with Gennady Golovkin, where his undisputed championship will be at stake and depending on the outcome of the third fight between the two, then seeking a rematch with Bivol.

While this effectively keeps Benavidez out of the equation, despite his status as a number one contender and former world champion,  what can a fighter in his position do?  Fight on and try to make the best argument possible to hopefully drum up public demand for him to get an opportunity to face a fighter like Alvarez. Such an opportunity presented itself for Benavidez on May 21st when he faced former IBF Middleweight world champion David Lemieux at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ.

Stylistically,  this had the makings of a fan-friendly encounter as both fighters are offensive-minded and have punching power. While no one can dispute Lemieux’ punching power and heart,  it was immediately apparent that Benavidez’ hand speed would simply be too much for him. Benavidez badly staggered Lemieux with a left hook to the head in the first round and proceeded to unleash a flurry of near non-stop punches where Lemieux was barely saved by the bell.

Although it is not necessarily something that one sees in every fight where a fighter barely survives a round, it was not surprising to see Lemieux’: corner tell their fighter that he needed to show something or they were going to stop the fight. Moments into the second round, Lemieux was dropped by an uppercut by Benavidez. Lemieux showing his heart got up from the knockdown and after being told by the referee that he was being given “A short leash,” and as his corner had told him at the end of the first round that he needed to show something, he fought hard and was even able to back Benavidez up periodically against the ropes.

The difference in hand speed, punching power, and Lemieux being unable to get on the inside consistently ultimately would prove to be too much for the former Middleweight world champion to overcome. Benavidez was able to withstand the bursts of offense and aggression that Lemieux was able to dish out before mustering up more combinations of his own, and after a flurry of offense in the third round, the fight was stopped.

While no one can take anything away from the heart David Lemieux showed in this fight, this was a case of a good bigger and stronger fighter besting a good shorter fighter. Even though Lemieux had fought five times at the 168lb. Super-Middleweight limit prior to this fight, and keeping in mind that the overall skillset of David Benavidez was also a factor, Lemieux was simply out gunned in this fight and while his career will likely continue, it may also continue to be an issue for him in facing fighters who will have natural size and a theoretical strength edge over him.

Although David Benavidez made as strong an argument as one might have expected in dominating and stopping David Lemieux, unfortunately for him, he continues to be cast in the role of the odd fighter out of the equation as it was announced this week that despite his loss to Dmitry Bivol and a contract of a third bout with Gennady Golovkin appearing contingent on a victory over Bivol, Saul Alvarez will square off with Golovkin in their third encounter on September 17th. For his part, Alvarez has said that he intends to seek a rematch with Dmitry Bivol after his third bout with Golovkin, which would effectively remove Benavidez from a potential challenge of Alvarez for the foreseeable future.

As we saw with Bivol’s victory over Alvarez however, nothing is truly certain in the sport of Boxing and for now, the best thing and really the only thing David Benavidez can do is try to stay as active as he can and continue to try to drum up support amongst the public for him to get that opportunity and for his promoter, the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) group of promoters to try and secure it at the first available opportunity. Even if that were to come from outside the PBC banner and on a non PBC-affiliated television network. Something that the PBC has been reluctant to allow their fighters to do in the past.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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