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David Benavidez set to become youngest 168lb. champion


By Jeff Aranow: Undefeated 20-year-old David Benavidez (18-0, 17 KOs) is poised to win the vacant WBC super middleweight title in his fight for the belt against #6 WBC Ronald Gavril (18-1, 14 KOs) this Friday night in their match on Showtime Boxing from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

A win for #4 WBC Benavidez will make him the youngest ever super middleweight champion in the division. That’s pretty impressive.

Benavidez has taken advantage of #1 WBC contender Callum Smith and #3 Avni Yildirim both taking part in the World Boxing Super Series. Benavidez would have been fighting former WBC 168 lb. champion Anthony Dirrell for the vacant WBC title, but he suffered an injury and he can’t fight for the belt. It probably wouldn’t have mattered if Benavidez didn’t get a shot at the WBC title right now, as he has the kind of punching power and boxing skills that would enable him to unseat the likes of Callum Smith, Dirrell or Yildirim. Those guys are good fighters, but Benavidez looks to be pretty special. He’ll soon be facing some of those guys if he wins the WBC title. Smith is expected to capture the World Boxing Super Series tournament for his weight class.

The start time on Showtime for the Benavidez vs. Gavril is at 10:05 p.m. ET/PT.

Benavidez trains out of Big Bear, California. His father Jose Benavidez is his trainer. Being in Big Bear, Benavidez shares the same gym as IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs), and he’s sparred with him many times in the past. Benavidez was the lead sparring partner for Golovkin to prepare him for his fight against Danny Jacobs on March 18 on HBO PPV.

It would have been great to seeing the sparring sessions between Benavidez and Golovkin. Those must have been real wars with both guys throwing bombs. Golovkin isn’t the type though that looks to obliterate his sparring partners, so it’s likely that he was using his training with Benavidez to work on specific things to get him ready for the Jacobs fight.

“I feel like he [Ronald Gavril] has a really good style for me to showcase my skills, like how I did against Rogelio Medina,” said Benavidez. ”With our sparring partners, we have brawlers and we have boxers, as well. Whatever style he fights on that night, I’m going to be prepared for it.”

Benavidez stopped the big punching Rogelio “Porky” Medina (38-8, 32 KOs) in the 8th round on May 20 in knocking him down in rounds 6, 7 and 8. The fight was stopped after the third knockdown in the right. It was an impressive performance from Benavidez, who looks like he’s getting better and better with each fight. Before obliterating Medina, Benavidez’s best wins of his career have come against Denis Douglin and Sherali Mamajonov.

Benavidez did a better job beating Douglin than George Groves did. It was an easier fight for Benavidez. Groves had a lot of problems defeating Douglin.

Gavril, 31, was born in Bacau, Romania, and he now lives in Las Vegas, and trains out of the Mayweather Boxing Gym. Gavril was an excellent amateur fighter during his time in Romania, and he finished his career in the amateur ranks with a 165-15 record.

It’s going to be difficult for Gavril to handle the power of Benavidez, because he doesn’t have much power to cause him to back off. The only thing Gavril can do is to use his boxing ability to try and limit how many big shots Benavidez lands in the contest. Gavril cannot afford to get caught in any extended exchanges with the heavy-handed Benavidez, as that would work against him and hurt his chances of winning the fight. Gavril has got to be smart inside the ring, don’t stand in front of Benavidez, and jab frequently. If Benavidez is able to corner Gavril, he’ll wear him down and stop him well inside the distance.

“Benavidez is a strong guy who’s coming in with a lot of support behind him, but I’m not going to let any of that distract me from my preparation,” said Gavril. “Me and my trainer are going to have a great game plan for him. I know he wants to be active and smother me and we’re going to show him all of the parts of my game.”

It’s going to have to be a great game plan for Gavril to pull off the upset in this fight. He doesn’t have the size or the offensive weapons for him to match-up against Benavidez. Gavril was beaten 2 years ago by journeyman Elvin Ayala by an 8 round unanimous decision. Ayala took the fight to Gavril, hitting him with big shots and winning the rounds fairly easily just based on his power advantage.

It’s not good news that Gavril couldn’t get past Ayala with his boxing skill, given that Benavidez is a big step up from that level fighter. Gavril will need a heck of a game plan for him to beat Benavidez.

Also on Friday’s Benavidez-Gavril card are the following fights:

• Caleb Plant vs. Alan Campa

• J’Leon Love vs. Abraham Han

• Jeison Rosario vs. Salim Larbi

• Andres Cortez vs. Edward Kakembo

• Peter Quillin vs. TBA

• Josue Vargas vs. Alexander Charneco

• Xavier Martinez vs. TBA

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