Q & A with David Benavidez, Mail Bag & More
By Don Smith: Boxing Fans, ABNN was able to sit down with WBC world super middleweight champion David Benavidez (19-0-17 knockouts) while he was in Corpus Christi Texas (2/3) to watch his brother Jose win what is being characterized as his comeback fight after he was shot twice (knee & hand) in 2016 near his girlfriend’s domicile in Phoenix.
David will defend his title in a rematch with Ronald Gavril on 2/17 at the Mandalay Bay Center in Las Vegas Nevada. The much anticipated bout is the co-main event match preceding the top billed Danny Garcia vs. Brandon Rios confrontation. ABNN has credentials to cover the show and if you can’t go; catch it on ShowTime. Garcia is favored and I would like to see Jose Benavidez fight the winner or loser of the bout. It would be a good barometer to see how ready Jose is after his vigorous rehab.
David is mature beyond his 21 years and easy to talk to. As we spoke, I was impressed with how calm and poised he remained during our 21 minute back and forth interchange. Initially, we agreed to conduct the interview via email; but, for unknown reasons he wasn’t receiving the questions sent so we decided to hold the session face to face in the lobby of the downtown Holiday Inn in Corpus Christi. His brother Jose sat several feet away never by but never interfered with our conversation and when asked if he had an opinion of the quality of our chat, his older sibling denied lending an ear to the conversation. Both brothers respect each other’s space.
According to our research, David Benavidez started boxing at age 3 in Phoenix, his hometown. His amateur record was 15-0 and he openly admits to battling weight issues and at age 15 he ballooned to 250 lbs. compared to his current fighting weight of 168.
In his first meeting with Gavril on September 8, 2017, Benavidez was weakened by the flu bug and wasn’t himself but he managed to overcome a 11th round knockdown to win a split decision over the game and gritty Romanian and become the youngest fighter, at age 20, to win a world super middleweight title. Also, his victory made him the third native Arizonian to capture a world title. 6 time world champion Michael Carbajal and 2 division (bantamweight & featherweight) world champion Luis Espinosa are the other world champions who claim the Grand Canyon State as their place of birth..
David made his auspicious professional debut at age 17 with a first round knockout over Erasmo Moreno in Mexico. I asked how he would handle his first defeat should it happen and he replied, “I don’t think about losing” and no one in his camp thinks the “0” will vanish against Gavril on 2/17. I plan to talk to the WBC Champion some more after his rematch with Gavril on 2/17at the Mandalay Bay Center in Las Vegas. Because of the length of our conversation we divided the interview into two parts and the second installment plus any additional conversation gathered at the event will be carried in our next issue. In the meantime, ABNN hopes our readers enjoy the first segment.
ABNN: Now that you’re a world champion, has things changed-what is the upside, downside?
DB: We are just staying dedicated. I have a world title and I feel like everyone wants to take my world title; so, I have to stay extremely prepared and ready to take on any type of fight.
ABNN: Is that being paranoid?
DB: It isn’t paranoia; it is really staying ahead of everybody, boxing is the only life I live and I just want to be the best.
ABNN: How did you celebrate your 21st birthday on December 17?
DB: Just training
ABNN: Your nickname is El Bandera Roja (“Red Flag”) and you wear a sombrero in the ring; are you comfortable with that image?
DB: Of course, I am comfortable (pause), I feel like the Sombrero represents the Mexican People, I feel like that is a symbol where I show my Mexican heritage.
ABNN: Will you continue to wear the Sombrero in the ring?
DB: Of course, I feel like it is how people identify me; so, I will continue to wear it.
ABNN: What are you learning about the boxing business that surprises you if anything?
DB: You know, I have been around the business for a long time not only in my career but being around the scene in my brother’s career. I wouldn’t say nothing surprises me. You just have to go in there and treat it like a job. You try to make the best of it; it’s work.
ABNN: Boxing is important to you, but don’t you have to have hobbies and other interests to keep your life balanced?
DB: I really don’t have any hobbies, just training, watch movies, maybe go out to eat (pause) boxing is what I do. I just stay to myself. Now that I think about it, I like music and to be honest with you, I am thinking about taking up an instrument, piano, guitar, something like that….do it for the brain, mind
ABNN: Were you surprised when some fans and critics turned on you when you didn’t knock out Gavril on September 8. I mean you were only 20 at the time, first title fight and you were down a bit with the flu, what is your reaction?
DB: Yeah, I knew it was going to be a tough fight, nerves, sick with the flu, I handled adversity… I feel like I won the fight clearly. I am not really worried about what people think (pause) I mean I worry about what people think. If fans turn on you that’s what it is ; so we, just have to focus on getting better the next fight and that is exactly what we are going to do. We are working so hard for this fight and we are working with some great fighters; you will see the difference on 2/27.
ABNN: Do you read your own press, the stories, what social media puts out there?
DB: I really don’t pay attention to it because at the end of the day I know what I said (pause) and sometimes people twist your words around, you know what I mean? Sometimes people say good things about me and sometimes people say bad things about me. I know if I do my work, I don’t have to worry about nothing except my training camp and the opponent in front of me.
ABNN: Do you have to careful with you talk to?
DB: Yes, I really don’t trust many people. Sometimes you don’t know what their intentions are. I really talk too much to people I don’t know. I trust you because I have known you a lot of years. I know you and you are a good person but you have to be careful what you say to some people, sometimes.
ABNN: Growing up you struggled with your weight, at times. Now you could be a role model or poster child for all kids who need to shed weight for health reasons. What do you say to kids who face ridicule and self-doubt?
DB: I just want to be a symbol to the kids dealing with overweight and a lot of problems. I want them to just stay dedicated and it can be completed. I was 15 years old and weighed 250 pounds. It was very hard for me to lose weight; but having the belief in myself, and having the right lifestyle for myself; I pushed through and that goes to show for anything else. If you want to better yourself in any aspect of life, you have to stay dedicated and continue working until you see the progress.
ABNN: The city of Phoenix, your birthplace, has done nothing to recognize your winning of a world championship. Are you surprised, disappointed, do you care?
DB: I am very grateful to the city I was born in. I and my family have been through a lot of things. I learned a lot of lessons. I have a special place in my heart for Phoenix, Arizona I just want the people there to be proud of me; my family mostly. I really appreciate all the love and support.
ABNN: We asked about 10 -15people in the boxing industry to name someone whose picture should be added to the “Arizona Hall of Fame” murals on the outside of the Central Boxing Gym in Phoenix and they chose you and the late trainer Walt Hoskins.
DB: You know when I was growing up and training at Central Boxing that was always my dream to be painted on the wall. My brother was painted on the wall; it just means so much to me. We learned a lot at Central Boxing Club; it was a big part of my life. And it would be an honor for me to be painted on the wall.
ABNN: What has boxing done for you personally that you couldn’t have gotten from some other experience?
DB: It saved my life even when I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. It just taught me dedication, it’s made me more of a man, and a dedicated man…I can’t even express to you how much it has done to me (pause) to me, boxing has done so much to my life.
ABNN: Do you get upset when fans compare you to your brother?
DB: Not even because my brother is a great boxer, I grew up looking up to my brother wanting to be like my brother. Just for people to compare me to my brother; it’s an honor because I looked up to my brother my whole life.
ABNN: You stayed with him when the shooting incident happened in 2016.
DEB: Yes I did, it was difficult but that’s the time he needed me most and I stayed right by his side the whole time. It was very tough, I am very tough and I am very proud of my brother coming back from an injury like that because most people don’t come back from an injury like that (pause) and still get in the ring, box and do stuff like that.
ABNN: I am sure you heard about Terrence Crawford and his confrontation with your brother at the weigh-in?
DB: I don’t worry about Terrence Crawford and I think my brother is going to get that fight.
ABNN: What your brother went through is hard for me to imagine. I served 13 months in the Viet Nam war and I don’t believe I could have handled that harrowing experience.
DB: It was tough, God is good. Without God being in our lives, everything wouldn’t have been possible. He watches over all of us.
ABNN: What areas in your boxing game do you need to work on?
DB: I feel like there are lots of things I can work on but that’s for us to know. I don’t like to broadcast our strategy. I feel like with age, I am getting better.
ABNN: So would it be safe to say you’re working to improve your offense and defense; and what about Marriage in the future?
DB: Yes to the first question and right now, I am married to boxing.
ABNN: David, thank you for staying for our 2 part segment and good luck to you on 2/17.
Show Details: Mayweather Promotions forwarded an update to the 2/17 boxing event at Mandalay Bay Center that is being telecast on ShowTime, check your local listing for channel and time.
Main Event: Danny “Swift” Garcia (33-1-19 knockouts) vs. Brandon “Bam-Bam) Rios (34-3-25 knockouts) Co-Main: WBC World Super Middleweight Champion David Benavidez ((19-0-17 knockouts) defends his title against Ronald Gavril (18-2-13 knockouts) in a 12 round contest. UnderCard: Yordenis (20-3-9 knockouts) vs. Ray Robinson (24-2-12 knockouts), Edwin Rodriguez (29-2-20 knockouts) vs. Lionel Thompson (19-4-11 knockouts), Ladarus Miller (14-1-4 knockouts) vs. Argenis Mendez (24-5-1-12 knockouts), Andres Cortes (6-0-4 knockouts) vs. TBA, Brian Gallegos (6-0-4 knockouts) vs. TBA, AVA Knight (no record found) vs. TBA, Jonathan Esquivel (4-0-4 knockouts) vs. Cameron Burroughs (4-2-3 knockouts),Joe Spencer (debut) vs. Uriel Gonzalez (2-2-1-2).
Short Jabs: Phoenix boxer Ryan Riddell is fighting in Mexico on March 16….. Catch the 2 day Golden Gloves Tournament 2/24-25 at Sonny’s boxing in Goodyear, Arizona. Boxing Fan Expo was happy to see their event scheduled for May 5 in Las Vegas mentioned in our last column but dismayed that we didn’t wax nostalgic with a memory lane list of previous guests. Sorry, yesterday is dead and gone and tomorrow is outside. There is a video on their website and based on the viewin; the guest year from last year was very impressive.
Mail Bag: Meghan Jones of Portland wanted to know why Terrence Crawford was at the fight in Corpus Christi and why did he taunt Jose Benavidez at the weigh-in. Answer: It is customary for any show promoter to invite celebrity guests to fights and Crawford has a an upcoming title bout with WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn at Madison Square Garden. As for the confrontation with Crawford; the two fighters have a genuine dislike for each other and the tiff will sell tickets if the two ever meet in the ring. Several boxing fans sent emails stating they were ready to buy tickets as soon as the contract is signed.
Several readers praised our last column that mentioned the winning return of Jose Benavidez. Our email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org and we welcome all comments….Until Next Time!
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- Ryan Garcia finalizing his huge “mega-fight” this week