By John J. Raspanti
David Benavidez captured the WBC supermiddleweight championship by winning a hard-fought 12-round split decision over Ronald Gavril at the Hard Rock Café and Casino in Las Vegas, NV Friday night.
The scoring of the fight was all over the map. Two judges had Benavidez easily winning the contest by scores of 116-111, and 117-111. The third judge went for Gavril by a 116-111 tally. Maxboxing judged Benavidez the winner by a 115-113 tally.
In the opening stanza, Benavidez (19-0, 17 KOs) popped his jab and used lateral movement. Gavril, 11 years older at 31, bobbed and weaved and looked for an opening. Benavidez clipped Gavril (18-2, 14 KOs) with a combination. Gavril was more active in round two. He landed a good right to the breadbasket. Benavidez dug a left hook while Gavril fired back with a combination. Benavidez clubbed Gavril with two rights to the liver.
Gavril connected with a sharp combination in round three. Benavidez let fly with hooks to the head and body. Gavril connected with a right that seemed to stun Benavidez. The youngster responded by letting his hands go. A hook around Gavril’s guard scored. Gavril kept up the volume punching in round four. His corner reminded him that he’s in great shape.
Benavidez landed a three-punch combination. Gavril’s nose was bleeding. He ate another hard couple of shots to the chin. Benavidez’s edge in power and speed were obvious, but Gavril wasn’t going anywhere. He invested more energy to the body. Benavidez connected with a looping right.
In round six, Benavidez went back to using his jab. Gavril wasn’t impressed. He went after Benavidez with shots. A number landed. Benavidez was either getting tired or taking the round off. However, he did land a solid uppercut with 10 seconds to go in the heat.
Rounds seven and eight were tight. Benavidez dug a beauty of a left hook to the body. Gavril kept working. He landed a right, but was tagged by a shot to the ribs.
Gavril was the more active fighter in round nine. Benavidez battled back but the hard-working Gavril kept his hands moving. Benavidez looked surprised at the end of the round. The determined Gavril was finding success on the inside.
Benavidez, perhaps sensing that Gavril could be getting closer on the scorecards, went to the body. Gavril clobbered Benavidez with a left hook. Benavidez landed a right hook that appeared to hurt Gavril. An uppercut also landed. Gavril battled back, but Benavidez hammered him with awkward blows to the head. Gavril took them and punched back.
Both boxers, who had dreamed of winning a world title since they were kids, traded blows to the head and body in round 12. Benavidez clipped Gavril with blows until with roughly 30 seconds to go in the bout, Gavril connected with a left hand that dropped Benavidez. He beat the count and fought back until the final bell rang.
“It feels amazing to win this title,” said Benavidez. “It’s everything I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid. It’s everything I’ve dedicated myself to and I’ve worked hard for. It finally paid off.”
“I feel I won the fight,” said a disappointed Gavril. “I dominated the pace. I can’t say anything else other than it was up to the judges.”
In a see-saw affair, Juan Francisco Estrada (36-2, 25 KOs) battled back from an early deficit to floor flashy Carlos Cuadras (39-2, 27 KOs) in round 10—and captured a razor close unanimous decision at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA.
All three judges scored the fight 114-113—as did maxboxing.com.
Cuadras appeared to control the early rounds with consistent bodywork and volume punching. Estrada didn’t panic. He fought at a methodical pace, bidding his time and looking to counter.
Estrada started to rally in round five. He stalked Cuadras and landed a number of jabs. A classic one-two also found pay dirt. Cuadras moved around, but Estrada nailed him with a hard right. Cuadras battled with gutsy punching but paid the price. Estrada sent him to the canvas in round 10—courtesy of a right hand. The former champion beat the count and fought back. Estrada stayed steady in the last two rounds
He landed a wicked left hook and appeared to be the fresher of the two at the final bell.
“His quickness and fast hands surprised me early, but once I figured him out I was winning,” said Estrada. “I won the last seven rounds.”
Cuadras didn’t agree with the verdict.
“I won the fight, I landed the harder punches, no way he beat me.”
Making his American debut, Naoya “The Monster” Inoue (14-0, 12 KOs) terrorized gutsy bank teller Antonio Nieves (17-2-2, 9 KOs) for six one-sided rounds until his corner called an end to the slaughter. Inoue used a ram rod jab and thudding blows to the head and body to render Nieves, who never stopped trying, virtually defenseless.