Photos: Sumio Yamada
In a clash for the vacant super middleweight world title, 20-year-old David “El Bandera Roja” Benavidez became the youngest super middleweight champion in history and the youngest reigning boxing world champion in the sport today. Benavidez (19-0, 17 KOs) scored a twelve round split decision over Ronald “The Thrill” Gavril (18-2, 14 KOs) on Friday night at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. In a tough and gritty fight, Benavidez survived a twelfth round knockdown to prevail by scores of 116-111, 117-111. Gavril was up 116-111 on the third card.
“It feels amazing to win this title,” said Benavidez. “It’s everything I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid. It’s everything I’ve dedicated myself to and I’ve worked hard for. It finally paid off. I felt my performance was good except for the last round when I got too anxious and wanted to knock him out. I let my young side takeover and I wanted to give the fans a great fight. I didn’t really feel hurt but it was a shock knockdown. I know to be careful and more cautious. It was a learning experience.”
“I feel I won the fight. I dominated the pace. I can’t say anything else other than it was up to the judges,” Gavril said, who was watched by his promoter all-time great Floyd Mayweather from ringside. “The only thing I can do is to ask for a rematch.”
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A super middleweight clash between J’Leon Love (23-1-1, 13 KOs) and Abie Han (26-3-1, 16 KOs) ended in a technical draw. After Han was cut but a head clash, the bout went to the scorecards. Judges had it 79-73 Love, 76-76, 76-76.
Unbeaten middleweight contender, Caleb “Sweethands” Plant (16-0, 10 KOs) scored a hard-fought ten round unanimous decision over late sub Andrew Hernandez (19-7-1, 9 KOs).