When ranking the most TV-friendly boxers in the game today, no list would be complete without unbeaten David Benavidez. It just so happens the 23-year-old is also one of the best fighters in the world at 168 and in possession of the WBC title he first won while still a teenager.
Or maybe we should say, was in possession. Two years after having been stripped of his title following a positive drug test for cocaine, only to win it back last fall, Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs) missed weight on Friday and lost his title on the scales ahead of Saturday's Premier Boxing Champions tripleheader (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET).
Benavidez was nearly three pounds over the 168-pound limit, meaning only his opponent, hard-hitting Roamer Alexis Angulo (26-1, 22 KOs) will be eligible to win the title at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Benavidez also declined the additional hour provided by the commission to try and shed the weight to keep his title.
"I put the blame on myself, the last three pounds wouldn't come off," Benavidez said after stepping off the scales on the Showtime weigh-in live stream. "Maybe it was not having the proper things I needed [during the quarantine]. It was just a couple of different things and I'm obviously disappointed but I still have a job to do tomorrow.
"I'm definitely 100 times angrier coming into this fight. I don't have my belt no more and the best I can come out of this fight is winning."
Benavidez will still get to showcase his pressure stye and doesn't plan on changing his approach anytime soon.
"I really don't feel any pressure. I'm going to continue doing what I have been doing since I was 18," Benavidez told CBS Sports' "State of Combat" podcast earlier this week. "I feel like that's why I have got to where I am at. I won the belt when I was 20 years' old. I just go out there and do what I do. I'm an exciting fighter and the fans love me. My style brings out exciting fights. I don't shy away from a fight. I'd rather bring the fight and make it a war."
Benavidez rebounded in resounding fashion when a personal setback cost him the title the first time around by stopping division stalwart Anthony Dirrell to regain his crown.
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A native of Phoenix, Benavidez was quick to point out that Angulo has a style that is nothing like the counterpunching and technical boxing style of Dirrell, which only raises the expectations for violence when they touch gloves this weekend.
Anuglo, a 36-year-old Colombian with a big right hand, is peaking at the right time in his career despite his age. Although his lone defeat came two years ago in a title loss by decision to Gilberto Ramirez, he has won two straight including an upset of unbeaten Anthony Sims Jr. in January.
"This fighter Angulo is more of a pressure type of fighter," Benavidez said. "He likes to go forward and throw a lot of big shots. It will be a different kind of game that I'm playing this Saturday. I feel like my fights are exciting when the person I'm fighting comes forward and forward. I've seen that type of style a lot in my career and I'm used to it. I'm looking to have a great fight."
No stranger to the highlight reel, Benavidez made plenty of them in a 2017 knockout of Rogelio "Porky" Medina that saw him finish the fight with a flurry of clean punches that nearly reached double digits as Medina fell under the bottom rope and was counted out.
"That was probably one of my favorite knockouts I ever had," Benavidez said. "I watch it quite a lot and I feel like [Angulo] is kind of a replica of 'Porky' Medina. He's the same type of fighter who comes forward and throws big shots. It could possibly be the same night. I'm looking to have a spectacular performance."
Tall for the division at nearly 6-foot-2, Benavidez has given up his height often to fight on the inside. He claims he hasn't done so to a reckless degree, however.
"If you look at my fights very closely, by the time the fights are done I don't come out with black eyes, I don't come out with cuts," Benavidez said. "It's fighting in the pocket but it's being very careful with your defense, too. Just because I'm fighting on the inside a lot doesn't mean I'm taking the shots and just coming forward. Just because it's hitting on the gloves doesn't mean it's hitting on your face and I feel like that creates room for counter shots and more room for opportunity like body shots. If I'm in close to the pocket, it's definitely going to be a short night for whomever I'm in there against.
Benavidez believes he "put the whole division on notice" with his stoppage of Dirrell via cuts and hasn't hidden his disdain for or intention of seeking a unification bout against IBF champion Caleb Plant. Those plans will be delayed due to Benavidez missing weight.
"That's the fight that we want to make happen as soon as possible," Benavidez said. "I don't like him, he doesn't like me and I want his belt. That's the fight I feel like has been cooking up and that's the kind of fight that fans are excited about. That definitely has to happen as soon as possible. That's the fight I want and the person I want to knock out. When we get in the ring, it's going to get ugly. Trust me. I'm going to end up leaving with his belt.
"He thinks he's better than me. It's just the way that he is. It's his persona. Sometimes there are just these two dudes that don't like each other. I don't like the way he is and acts. I don't like how he thinks he's better than everybody. He thinks he's going to rule the division and I'm not going to let that happen. This is my division."
Also featured on the card are a pair of heavyweights looking to get back in the spotlight when Otto Wallin takes on Travis Kauffman. Wallin famously battled WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury ahead of his rematch with Deontay Wilder and cut Fury's eye open early in the bout. Many were worried that the cut was bad enough that the fight could be stopped and put the Wilder rematch in jeopardy. Fury survived, however, and went on to win a very gruesome, bloody decision. It's the only loss of Wallin's pro career.
Kauffman has been in some brawls in his career, but at 34, his best days are behind him. He's lost two of his last three, including a TKO defeat at the hands of Luis Ortiz in his last bout in December 2018. He's only fought four times since 2016.
Plus, one of Floyd Mayweather's rising prospects is back when Rolando Romero takes on Jackson Marinez for the WBA interim lightweight title in the co-main event. Romero boasts incredible power with 10 knockouts in 11 career wins. Marinez is no slouch himself, however, as he boasts an undefeated record at 19-0, though a more technical fighter with just seven career knockouts.
Fight card, odds
David Benavidez -1200
Roamer Alexis Angulo +750
Rolando Romero -550
Jackson Marinez +400
WBA interim lightweight title
While Angulo is certainly the clear underdog due to his lack of speed and overwhelming craft, he has proven an ability to demand respect with the threat of his right hand and lower his opponent's output because of it. Whether that will give Benavidez any pause likely will be decided when Angulo is forced to fight at close range where his opponent excels with short combinations.
The propensity for fireworks is big in this one and Benavidez's pressure style does welcome the threat of getting caught, like he did when he was dropped in the final round of his first meeting with Ronald Gavril that ended via split decision. The difference, however, is the advantages in speed and technique that Benavidez will hold in the pocket, which allows him to stand closer to fire without getting burned.
As long as Benavidez maintains his poise and avoids an emotional reaction to missing weight, this is still a fight he should win.
Pick: Benavidez via TKO10
Who wins Benavidez vs. Angulo? Exactly how long does the fight last? Visit SportsLine now to see Peter Kahn's best bet for Saturday, all from the fight game manager who's 16-0 on boxing picks since the sport returned, and find out.