Former world champions clash on Saturday night when David Benavidez takes on David Lemieux with the interim WBC super middleweight championship on the line. The action from Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona and airs live on Showtime starting at 10 p.m. ET.
The winner of the fight also becomes one of several mandatory challengers for Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, putting another potentially huge prize on the table.
Benavidez (25-0, 22 KO) has proven repeatedly that he is one of boxing's brightest talents but his own missteps have set him back from bigger things in the past. He has twice lost the WBC super middleweight championship, once after testing positive for cocaine and once for missing weight. Had Benavidez not been stripped for missing weight, he'd almost certainly have already met Alvarez in the ring on the Mexican superstar's quest to unify all four world titles at 168 pounds.
"I've had a tremendous training camp and everything has been perfect. The miles have been run, the rounds have been sparred and the weight has been lost already," Benavidez said at the final press conference. "I came in extremely prepared for this fight. We both have a lot of knockouts, so I'm just looking forward to giving the fans a war.
"I really want to go in there and earn this title. I have a lot of respect for Lemieux and I've been watching him since I was young, but he has a lot to worry about with me. I'm faster and stronger, but he's got the experience, so this is going to be a great fight."
With his size, power, toughness and high-volume output that includes a hammer of a jab, Benavidez will enter the ring a substantial favorite at -2000.
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Lemieux (43-4, 36 KO) was a monster puncher at middleweight, scoring a knockout of notably durable Gabriel Rosado in 2014 before winning the IBF middleweight world title with a decision over Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam that saw N'Jikam hit the canvas four times.
The reward for Lemieux's world title victory was a bout with the most feared man in the sport at the time, Gennadiy Golovkin. Things would play out poorly, however, as he was dominated before a stoppage in the eighth round. After continuing to campaign at middleweight, including a loss to Billy Joe Saunders in a WBO world title fight, Lemieux moved up to 168 pounds in December 2019.
"I'm 100% focused on Lemieux. I'm focused on the task in front of me. I just take it one fight at a time," Benavidez said. "I like to put everything into the fight and figure out the rest later. I know Lemieux is very motivated for this fight, so my mind is 100% on him.
"I can guarantee a hell of a fight, a war, and that somebody is getting knocked out. Neither of us wants to go to a decision. The people are paying good money to see a knockout, and that's what they're going to get. I'm leaving with the title on Saturday night."
Below is the complete fight card for Saturday night with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before getting to a prediction and pick on the main event.
Benavidez vs. Lemieux card, odds
David Benavidez -2000
David Lemieux +1000
Yoelvis Gomez -2000
Jorge Cota +1000
Luis Reynaldo Nunez
Jonathan Javier Fierro
The unfortunate reality for Lemieux is that he has one path to victory and that's to land a massive fight-changing punch. The problem is, Benavidez is talented, big and durable. Even if he allows himself to be drawn into a shootout rather than using his range and working behind the jab, Benavidez has every bit of the edge in the fight. There's some question about whether the full load of Lemieux's power truly moved up to 168 and he's the older, smaller man with a lot of miles on his body. It's hard to see the fight going in Lemieux's direction against such a daunting opponent. Pick: Benavidez TKO7