David Benavidez vs. J’Leon Love on Spence-Garcia undercard on March.16
By Jeff Aranow: Former WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez (20-0, 17 KOs) will be facing #15 IBF J’Leon Love (24-2-1, 13 KOs) in a scheduled 10 round fight in the co-feature bout on the Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia fight card on FOX PPV on March 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
This will be Benavidez’s first fight in 11 months, so you cannot fault him for taking on a weak opponent in Love. Still, the boxing would obviously prefer to see Benavidez facing a much better than Love, given that this is a PPV card on FOX. When fans order a PPV fight, they expect to see quality in the main event and the co-feature bout, at the very least. In this case, the headliner between Spence and Mikey is a good one, but the chief support fight is lacking. Love is arguably food for a slugger like Benavidez, and it’s not going to be pretty. Even with Benavidez being ring rusty from a year out of the ring, he’s still going to have too much for Love.
This is the 22-year-old Benavidez’s first fight back since testing positive last September for cocaine during a VADA test. Benavidez subsequently was stripped of his World Boxing Council 168 pound title, and he’s been out of action ever since.
If Benavidez (20-0, 17 KOs) defeats the 31-year-old Love, which would seem very likely, his next move will to fight the winner of the February 23 fight between Anthony Dirrell and Avni Yildirum for the WBC 168 lb title. Dirrell will be battling Yildirum for the vacant WBC 168 pound title next month at the Minneapolis Armory, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Love is a fighter that has been kicking around a while as a pro for nine years, losing recently to Peter Quillin by a lopsided 10 round unanimous decision last August. Love was also beaten by Rogelio Medina by a third round knockout in 2014. In September 2017, Love fought to an eight round technical draw against journeyman Abraham Han. That was a guy that Love was supposed to be able to handle without any problems. The fact that he couldn’t even beat Han showed the huge limitations in Love’s game. At this point, Love’s career is floundering. He needs a win badly. Beating Benavidez would rejuvenate Love’s career if he can beat him, but it’s highly unlikely. Love is being used a tune-up level opponent for Benavidez.
Benavidez should take care of Love without too many problems on March 16. It would be a major moral victory if Love can go the full 10 round distance without getting knocked out by Benavidez. But for Love to do that, he’s going to need to be able to take a boatload of punishment in this fight, and it’s unclear that he can do that. Benavidez is a better puncher than Rogelio Medina, and Love was destroyed in three rounds by him five years ago. Love is going to need to have a great game plan for him not to get smashed by Benavidez straightaway.