David Benavidez to possibly sign with Top Rank
By Chris Williams: WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez reportedly met with Top Rank and received an offer from them, according to Fighthype. If the 21-year-old Benavidez (20-0, 17 KOs) signs with Top Rank, then he’s expected to fight on the undercard of the unification fight between WBA lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko and WBO champion Ray Beltran on August 25 on ESPN at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Benavidez’s likely opponent for that card could be #2 WBC Anthony ‘The Dog’ Dirrell (32-1-1, 24 KOs). Earlier on Tuesday, the World Boxing Council ordered negotiations to start between Benavidez and the 33-year-old Dirrell. There’s a purse bid that is scheduled for June 22 in case the Benavidez and Dirrell’s management are unable to negotiate the fight. Both of them are managed by Al Haymon, so there’s a good chance the fight will get made. What’s unknown is how Benavidez potentially signing with Top Rank would impact his management by Haymon. Will that work? There could be some friction potentially.
If Benavidez is still being promoted by someone else, then there’s little chance he’ll be able to sign with Top Rank. We’ll have to see how this unfolds.
Whether Benavidez could make more money with Top Rank or him signing with Matchroom Boxing Promoter Edie Hearn is the big question. Hearn recently signed a $1 billion deal with DAZN to stream fights into the U.S, and he said he wants to sign a lot of top names in the U.S. that are currently promotional free agents. It would seem like a smart move on Benavidez’s part to wait a while before signing with a promoter, because he could wind up with a better deal with someone else.
If Benavidez signs with Top Rank, then the obvious fight for him would be against WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez. Other than that, Benavidez would probably face the Top Rank promoted Jesse Hart, and then maybe light heavyweight Oleksandr Gvozdyk. He’s another one of Top Rank’s fighters. Benavidez’s fights would be on ESPN obviously. However, whether Benavidez would become a star is another thing entirely? Gilberto Ramirez (37-0, 25 KOs) doesn’t seem to be increasing his popularity despite having a gaudy record and having his fights televised on ESPN. One huge problem that could be slowing Ramirez’s popularity is the match-making that’s being done for him by Top Rank.
If you look at Ramirez’s last six fights, it gives you a big hint for why he’s not becoming more popular. These are Ramirez’s recent opponents: Habib Ahmed, Jesse hart, Max Bursak, Arthur Abraham, Gevorg Khatchikian and Derek Edwards. Ramirez will be fighting someone named Raomer Alexis Angulo on June 30. It’s like a bad movie. With that kind of match-making, Ramirez could one day break Mayweather’s 50-0 record, but without anyone knowing who he is or caring who he is. Top Rank is doing a good job of putting Ramirez in record-padding fights against soft opposition, but they’re not putting him in the fights that the casual and hardcore boxing fans care about. If Benavidez finds himself in the same position of fighting only obscure opposition, then you have to wonder whether this is the right move for him to ink with Top Rank.
Benavidez was supposed to be fighting #14 WBC Matt Korobov on the undercard of WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia vs. IBF 135lb champion Robert Easter Jr. on July 28 on Showtime Boxing. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. If Benavidez inks with Top Rank, he’s expected be placed on the undercard of Lomachenko-Beltran. Just where Benavidez’s fight will fall on that card is the big question. Will be fight in the co-feature or the third fight from the top? If Top Rank wants to make a star out of Benavidez, then they’ve got to put him in the co-feature, because burying his fight below the likes of super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas is a waste of time. The casual boxing fans won’t take notice of Benavidez is his fight is the opening match on the card. That’s usually when the fans are getting refreshments and yakking it up with their friends before the main event.
With the deep pockets Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn now has with his $1 billion contract with DAZN, it’s hard to imagine him not making a play to sing Benavidez. The only reason I can think of for why Hearn wouldn’t look to sign Benavidez is if he doesn’t view him as someone with a long-term future at 168 because of how he’s still growing. Benavidez is a good super middleweight, but it might be a different story once he grows out of the division and winds up at light heavyweight or even cruiserweight. Hearn has reportedly signed past his best 32-year-old former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to a 3-fight deal with his promotional company. By signing Chavez for just 3 fights, Hearn won’t have to deal with watching him further implode as he gets older and exposed even more than he already has. Hearn wouldn’t be had off by signing Benavidez for three fights. If Benavidez grows his way out of the super middleweight division by the end of those three fights, then Hearn will be off the hook for when things start turning bleak for him when he moves up to 175 and must start fighting guys his own size like Bivol, Beterbiev, Kovalev, Badou Jack, Oleksander Gvodyk and Adonis Stevenson. It’s like game over for Benavidez once he’s forced to fight at light heavyweight. Chavez Jr. is the far bigger name than Benavidez, so it’s understandable why Hearn has signed him for 3-fights with his Matchroom company. Hearn is looking for the short-term money. If Hearn put Chavez Jr. in with several stiffs and make him look good, then it will help increase subscriptions with his DAZB streaming deal. Benavidez doesn’t have the name yet to increase subscriptions substantially, and he may not be able to fight at 168 for too much longer.
Benavidez is coming off back to back 12 round decision wins over Ronald Gavril. Benavidez didn’t look so great beating Gavril by a 12 round split decision in their first fight in September 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. In fact, Benavidez looked weight drained and barely won the fight. In the rematch last February, Benavidez looked a lot better in pounding out a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision. Gavril took a boatload of punishment for 12 rounds. In Benavidez’s fight before facing Gavril, he defeated Rogelio Medina, Sherali Mamajonov and Denis Douglin and looked good. The MAJOR negatives about Benavidez is his poor defense, his upright fighting style, and the fact that he’s not likely going to be able to continue to make 168 for too much longer. Benavidez is not a major talent like WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol, WBC champion Adonis Stevenson, Artur Beterbiev or Sergey Kovalev.
So if Benavidez winds up growing out of the 168lb weight class, which could happen very soon, then he’s going to find himself at light heavyweight having to fend with murderous punchers in that weight class. The fact that Benavidez struggled against a limited fighter like Gavril tells you all you need to know about his future outlook for when he eventually can no longer melt down to 168. Benavidez is basically a light heavyweight who can drain himself to fight at 168. Young fighters can drain themselves better than fighters that are in their late 20s and 30s. But I don’t think Benavidez is going to be able to do that for too much longer. Once Benavidez finds himself at 175, it could be game over for him in terms of being world title holder. Bivol would be a total nightmare for Benavidez. It wouldn’t be a fight. Bivol is so much more experience and talented. And a champion like Beterbiev would likely chop Benavidez apart with power shots. These are guys are bigger punchers than Benavidez, and they have the amateur pedigree going for them.