On Saturday, David Benavidez boldly sent a message to his rivals in both deed and word.
First, the super-middleweight challenger delivered a short but terrifying win over outnumbered contender David Lemieux before the fight was mercifully stopped in the third round in Glendale, California. And then he dared to fight the best fighters of the same weight or close to him.
“I’m waiting for them to sign,” Benavidez said, referring to the likes of Caleb Plant, Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade and even Canelo Alvarez. “These bitches know what’s going on. I am waiting for them. I’m not afraid of anyone.
“I am the youngest guy. I am a three-time 168 lb world champion. I will lift my belts against anyone. And I guarantee you that I will knock everyone out.”
Benavidez’s rivals were clearly in no hurry to meet him. We may have seen why on Saturday.
The Phoenix native, fighting in front of his hometown fans at the Gila River Arena, fought methodically to open a scheduled 12-round fight for the WBC “interim” title. He was a good puncher, landing a few hard shots to the body and a few to the head, but he was in no hurry.
Then, in an instant, everything changed. A left hook to Lemieux’s head with 12 seconds left in the first round buckled his knees and severely injured him. He managed to stay on his feet even under a flurry of subsequent punches, but that was the beginning of the end for the Canadian slugger.
Benavidez continued the onslaught early in the second round. About 20 seconds into the frame, he placed Lemieux on his back and under the ropes with his left hand. The winner continued to beat Lemieux with many punishing blows that ended up drawing blood and making it clear that Lemieux would not last long.
The former middleweight title holder showed great courage and resilience, striking back furiously even during the firestorm, but Benavidez landed too many punches on Lemieux’s seconds, who stopped the fight to save his fighter from unjust punishment.
The official stoppage time was 1:31 of round 3.
Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) was asked immediately after the fight how he was able to dominate a motivated veteran opponent who was fighting to maintain his career as an elite fighter.
“Because Mike Tyson gave me the name Mexican Monster. What do you think I was going to do?” he said. “I am the strongest 168-pounder. Nobody can mess with me.”
After that, Lemieux (43-5, 36 KOs) had little to say.
“After the first round, I was fine,” he said. “I got good hits [but] I’m back. I have to give him credit. He is a good fighter, good hands, good moves. Congratulations to him.”
What Benavidez needs most is Alvarez, the undisputed 168-pound champion, who lost a decision to light heavyweight belt holder Dmitry Bivol on May 7. financial surprise.
However, Alvarez will most likely face Bivol or Gennady Golovkin again in a third fight in September.
As such, Benavidez will need another dance partner for his next fight. He mentioned super middleweight contender Plant and middleweight title holders Charlo and Andrade as potential opponents that could generate interest and advance his career.
However, he is patient. He’s only 25. He knows opportunities will come. And when they do, he is sure that everything will fall in his way.
“When I first started, I thought one world championship was impossible,” said Benavidez, a former two-time belt winner. “Now I have three. So now there is no limit to the possibilities.”