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David Benavidez vs. Lionel Thompson possible for April 18

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By Aragon Garcia: David Benavidez is expected back in the ring on April 18 to potentially defend his WBC super-middleweight title against #13 WBC fringe contender Lionel Thompson. Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs) was supposed to be defending against his WBO mandatory Avni Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs), but he’s out with a shoulder injury, according to @MikeCoppinger. Avni had shoulder surgery recently.


Yildirim, 28, hasn’t fought since losing a 10 round technical decision to Anthony Dirrell 12 months ago on February 23, 2019. Even if Yildirim was healthy and 100%, it would be asking a lot of him to step inside the ring to challenge a machine like the 23-year-old Benavidez, who is coming off of a 9th round knockout win over former Yildirim conqueror Anthony Dirrell last September.

Yildirim obviously isn’t going to throw away his mandatory position with the WBO without facing Benavidez for his title, but it’s still tough for him to come off of a long injury layoff to fight for a title.

Thompson, 34, recently turned his career around with a surprising 10 round unanimous decision win over former IBF super-middleweight champion Jose Uzcategui on December 28 in Atlanta. The fight took place on the undercard of Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa. Thompson dropped Uzcategui in round 1 and continued to get the better of him in the remainder of the fight.

Earlier in Thompson’s 11-year career, he was a guy that a lot of boxing fans were excited about. He’s a five-time New York Golden Gloves winner, and he looked impressive in his first 12 fights as a pro. In 2012, Thompson lost consecutive fights to Nicholson Poulard and Sergey Kovalev. Thompson would later lose to Radivoje Kalajdzic, Paul Parker and Edwin Rodriguez.

In Thompson’s last three fights, he’s looked sharp in beating Derrick Findley, Scott Sigmon and Uzcategui. The fight against Uzcategui for Thompson took place at 168, which was his first in that weight class since he turned pro 11 years ago. In hindsight, Thompson should have been fighting at super-middleweight all these years, considering that he doesn’t have a lot of power compared to some of the other fighters in the 175-lb weight class.

Boxing fans aren’t too excited about the prospects of seeing Benavidez defend his WBC 168-lb title against the 34-year-old Thompson, but this fight is arguably better than Benavidez-Yildirim. Thompson better skilled than Yildirim, and he’s capable of staying in there with Benavidez a lot longer. Yildirim is a pure slugger, and he’d likely try and go to war with Benavidez from round 1, and that would be bad potentially for him.

Fans want to see Benavidez face Canelo Alvarez, Callum Smith, Caleb Plant and Billy Joe Saunders in unification fights. Some of those fights could happen in the future, but not now. They need to build more before they’ll be ready to be made.


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