David Benavidez returns to the ring
By Max Warren
David Benavidez Jr. is slated to face J’Leon Love on the pay-per-view undercard of Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia, taking place at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas March 16th on Fox PPV. He hasn’t fought since his dominant unanimous decision victory in a rematch against Ronald Gavril in February last year because he tested positive in a random VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) test for benzoylecgonine, a component in cocaine.
Benavidez was supposed to face mandatory challenger Andre Dirrell in the fall, but the fight fell through. Instead, he was forced to serve a suspension until February 27th. It was an unfortunate setback for Benavidez, who at 21 years old, was the youngest active world champion at the time.
Despite the mistake, he firmly believes that the lessons learned will allow him to become a better fighter. Young men often make mistakes, and the temptations that come with wealth and success can be overwhelming at times.
Benavidez is happy with his maturation process, saying “Everything I do now, I think about it twice. I don’t just think about it for myself, I think about it for me, my family, and the people around me, my team.” He now understands that the benefits of success in boxing can leave a burden of responsibility not only for himself, but also for the people around him.
Before the setback, it appeared that he was about to take off as the best fighter at 168. He steamrolled Gavril, a durable veteran, and it was almost a foregone conclusion that he would defeat Andre Dirrell later on last year.
It may have been the best thing for Benavidez’s career that he was caught. He now knows that it is the tireless dedication to his craft that has earned him the acclaim and wealth at such a young age. Also, he understands that opportunities can fall off the table in an instant if he does not conduct himself properly while he’s away from the ring.
The former super middleweight champion mentioned that his goals have changed as well, saying
“My goals have changed. Just getting my belt back, being champion, being one of the best fighters of this decade.” The layoff has left a chip on his shoulder, having to watch others succeed within the division, and knowing that he is more than capable of competing with them. He’s a huge fighter for the super middleweight division, standing at 6’1 and with a reach of 77’’. Benavidez can absorb a lot of shots, while coming forward and working the body often.
At 22 years old, he plans to stay at 168 for a while, and claims he makes the weight easily. Benavidez says, “I make 168 easy. I feel that I’m 22 years old and I can make this weight for a while. Until I feel that it’s necessary to move up to 175, I’ll do that.”
Benavidez hopes to be a force at 168 for the foreseeable future, and he definitely has the talent to do so. As long as he stays out of trouble and fights frequently, he possesses the ability to cement himself as the top super middleweight. Acting irresponsibly and getting away with it could have limited Benavidez’s potential. Fighters who are given mulligans for their mistakes tend to not learn from them. The positive test and suspension could have been a blessing in disguise for Benavidez, who believes that the setback has made him more conscientious than ever.