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David Benavidez involved in promotional fight

By Jim Dower: Promotional companies Top Rank and Sampson Boxing could soon be going to court to decide which of them will get to WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez in their stables. According to ESPN, Top Rank signed the 21-year-old Benavidez (20-0, 17 KOs) to a promotional contract last week. However, Sampson Lewkowicz of Sampson Boxing says he still has Benavidez under a promotional contract until 2021.

That’s three more years. Just how long it’s going to take for the case to be decided in court is the big question. If the legal case drags out for a year or more, then it could impact Benavidez’s career if he’s not able to fight.

Benavidez re-signed with Lewkowicz last November, according to ESPN. Whether there’s an iron tight contract or not is unclear.


Lewkowicz believes that ESPN won’t let Benavidez fight on their network if he’s dealing with a lawsuit. In that case, Benavidez will be inactive for as long as the lawsuit is underway. It’s a good thing that Benavidez is young at only 21, because if he was in his mid-30s, he would be losing valuable time potentially. It’s never good for a fighter to be inactive. For Benavidez, who looks very big for the super middleweight division, it would be a shame if the inactivity caused him to fill out quicker and no longer make 168.

Former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was never the same fighter after his 9-month suspension in 2012 for testing positive for a banned substance. When Chavez’s suspension ended, he could no longer make 160, and he was forced to move up to 168. Once Chavez Jr. no longer had the size advantage over his opponents in moving to super middleweight, he went downhill. Will this happen to Benavidez if he’s out of the ring for a long time?

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“We signed him. We want to give him big fights,” Arum said to ESPN.com. “But I don’t really want to talk about it right now because there’s going to be some litigation. [Lewkowicz] believes he’s still under contract.”

The 86-year-old Arum also has a couple of other super middleweights in his Top Rank stable in WBO 168lb champion Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez and #1 WBO Jesse Hart. If Arum is able to add Benavidez to his Top Rank company, he would have three of some of the best fighters in the weight class. I’m not certain that any of them would be a healthy WBA super middleweight champion George Groves or Callum Smith, but they would be a handful for them.

Groves and Smith perhaps a cut above those three, but we might not ever find out who the best fighter is in the division because they’re being moved in different galaxies. Arum has his Top Rank fighters competing on ESPN in fights that take place largely in the U.S. Groves and Smith fight mostly in Europe in the UK. Those two are currently competing in the World Boxing Super Series tournament, and they’re expected to face each other in the finals of the tournament. Hart and Ramirez didn’t sign up for the WBSS tournament. Whether they wanted to or not is unknown.

“Arum is destroying a young man’s career,” Lewkowicz said to ESPN.com. ”He cannot fight for Arum. I have a contract with him. It’s very simple. Arum gave him money to sign. I don’t know how much but it must be a lot of money.”

It’s understandable why Top Rank would want to sign Benavidez, as he’s very young and has a bright future ahead of him. Some boxing fans feel that Benavidez is a better fighter than Gilberto Ramirez. He’s certainly a bigger puncher, and he’s younger. If Arum can add Benavidez to his promotional company, he’ll have a good fighter for a long time. If the legal case goes against him, then Arum would need to wait until Benavidez is a promotional free agent before he can try and sign him. If Benavidez is still unbeaten and holding down his WBC 168lb title, it might not be easy to sign him, because there will be stiff competition from the other promoters like Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing.

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Well, hopefully Benavidez doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines for too long for the promotional legal war between Sampson Boxing and Top Rank gets settled in court. Benavidez last fought on February 17 in defeating Ronald Gavril by a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 120-108, 119-109 and 120-108. The two fought each other last September with Benavidez winning a 12 round split decision.

Benavidez turned pro in 2013, and he’s quickly put together 20 wins with 17 coming by knockout. Benavidez is from Arizona, and it’s believed that he has a bright future. Benavidez won the vacant WBC 168lb title last year in beating Gavril by a 12 round split decision. Benavidez was able to take advantage of #1 WBC Callum Smith entering the World Boxing Super Series tournament. Had Smith not entered the tournament, then Benavidez would have had to fight him for the WBC belt.

Benavidez’s brother Jose Benavidez Jr., who fights at welterweight, is signed with Top Rank right now. Jose hasn’t found the same type of success as David Benavidez, however. Jose is not as heavy-handed as David.

Benavidez was supposed to be defending his WBC 168lb title against Matt Korobov on July 28 on the undercard of Mikey Garcia vs. Robert Easter Jr. on Showtime at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. This would have been Benavidez’s second defense of his WBC light heavyweight title. But with Benavidez signing with Top Rank, it’s unknown when he’ll be free to fight again. If the legal case drags on for an extended period, we might not see Benavidez fighting for quite some time.

If Arum wins the case to promote Benavidez, then he’s going to stick him on his ESPN cards and likely keep him as busy as possible defending his title against the contenders. You would have to assume that Arum will match him up against Gilberto Ramirez and Jesse Hart at some point, as he likes to put together in-house fights between his Top Rank fighters. Benvidez’s boxing career would be derailed for a while until the legal case is done.


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