Benavidez: I want to become the undisputed champion

By Jeff Zimmerman

Former WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez (20-0, 17 KOs) makes his long-awaited comeback against J’Leon Love (24-2-1, 13 KOs) in the co-main event of the mega fight featuring Mikey Garcia vs. Errol Spence Jr. on Saturday, March 16th at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and shown live on PBC on FOX PPV.

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Photo: Jeff Zimmerman

Benavidez hasn’t fought since defending his belt against Ronald Gavril in February 2018, as he was stripped of his title due to a random drug test later that summer in which showed cocaine in his system.

It was rough for Benavidez, who at age 20 became the youngest WBC champ at 168lbs and was on the top of the boxing world.

“It was a little bit difficult, because I beat myself for the belt. I got it taken away, but like I said in 2019 we are not taking any steps backwards, we are just going forward,” David stated during Errol Spence Jr. media day last week.

As difficult as it was on David, it was heart wrenching for his dad, Jose Benavidez Sr., who serves as his manager and trainer. Jose Sr. is also the father and trainer to Jose Jr. who lost in a recent comeback to one of boxing’s best in Terence Crawford. Jose Jr. was coming back after a major leg injury after he was shot in his hometown of Phoenix.

“You have your ups and downs and you never know. You’re here and the next day you’re all the way at the bottom,” said Jose Sr. “It was devastating for me. I didn’t even know. I found out when the results came back. I didn’t understand, and I talked to David and asked him what happened. You’re going to lose everything.”

“It was devastating.”

David however is ready to put the last year behind him and only look ahead.

“I’m more dedicated now. I had everything taken away from me and that doesn’t feel good, so now we’re moving forward. We’re not taking any steps back. I’m just making my family and all my people behind me proud.”

Jose Sr. is also grateful that his son has learned from his mistake and their bond is now stronger than ever.

“Thank god, we were talking, and he realizes what he did. I thank god for that mistake to happen so early in his career,” Jose Sr. said. “He matured so much. He was crying and very upset. I didn’t lose my belt because I lost. I lost it because of me, of the way I was acting.”

Jose Sr. continued, “I think he matured a lot and we were kind of splitting apart a little bit, but now we are really tight together. I remember I would tell him to do this or do that, but he wouldn’t really listen to me. Now I got full control and we’re back again.”

“I feel super happy and he’s happy too and we’re working as a team. This has been the best camp ever. It makes everything easier when I see that he’s motivated and right on time with his weight, dedication and training, I think you’re going to see a different David too.”

Benavidez will have a tough matchup in his comeback fight against Love, but he’s ready for anything.

“I’m already first in line to fight for the WBC title, but I have to take care of my job in J’Leon Love and then I get Anthony Dirrell next.”

“J’Leon is a good boxer, he’s a counterpuncher and he’s been in the game for a long time. I’ll be ready for anything. I have studied him a lot. I have been working with boxers, brawlers, the whole nine yards. We’re ready for anything he presents.”

David, like his brother Jose did in 2010, will be fighting at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

“I’m very excited, I am going to be fighting in front of 40,000 people in the co-main event. It’s like a dream come through fighting in Cowboy Stadium.”

“I am looking to go in there and get the knockout. I don’t see why I can’t go in there and get the knockout.”

Benavidez understands if he could get by Love, there are many options out there for him.

“There’s a lot of good fights that could be made. There’s Anthony Dirrell, Caleb Plant, maybe Callum Smith. There’s a lot of good fights on the table, so I just got to do my part and hopefully I can face one of those fighters at the end of the year.”

Jose Sr. believes his son is better than ever and glad to be back on the same page.

“There were a lot of distractions. Every day there was something different in my camp so that makes it very difficult. I didn’t even know who was around me. Now we have just kept it tight and it is very closed. And he understands when I say I don’t want this person here and he understands and doesn’t say anything so that gives me more control. We’re more focused and it’s just great the feeling of him getting that title. We haven’t seen what he can do. Like I said I think you’re going to see a different David with a lot of skills and defense and power punches.”

David agrees with his dad.

“It’s just my dad, my teammates. I am more focused and just looking at the bigger picture and what I want from my life now. I kind of let distractions happen outside of my circle. My ultimate goal is to become the undisputed title holder in my weight class.”

“It made me more dedicated, it made me hungrier, so I can prove to these people I am not what they say.”

Jose Sr. believes it is just a matter of time before David is champion again, although like his son, is not looking past Love.

“I am not worried, I think he’s going to get his title back. How I see him now and how I saw him before there’s no doubt he’s going to get his title back. If everything goes right with this fight, we are going to fight Anthony Dirrell, he’s the one with the WBC title as David is the champion in recess.”

“We’re just working hard and not looking past this fight. We’re just focused on J’Leon Love, and not just winning but looking spectacular so we can get that fight and that’s what’s going to happen.”

For the elder Benavidez and with the nightmare of David’s setback behind him, he can continue living the dream through his sons.

“I’m blessed to have two sons to become world champions. David was the youngest to win the WBC title at 168, the youngest ever. Junior was the youngest signing with Top Rank. It is something amazing, to me it’s just a dream. I never thought about that. To me, it was spending time with them and working with them and that’s it. I have always said if I could find someone better than me to train them, go-ahead, because I never boxed. I knew nothing about boxing.”

“I did go to Freddie (Roach), Robert Garcia, the Diaz brothers, Abel Sanchez and I learned a lot from them. I was a sponge. I was really committed and became obsessed with learning.”

The bond between fighter and trainer or in their case father and son is evident. They both believe the best is yet to come, however they do have a slightly different take on the future, although they are essentially saying the same thing.

“I want to become the undisputed champion and then we can talk about moving up. Right now, I want all the belts,” Benavidez said.

Jose Sr. explained his approach, “We are worried about getting better, stronger and things will come. We know that we have to work hard like anybody else. My plan is staying focused, work hard and little by little get up there. Of course, everybody would like to unify.”

Spoken like a true fighter and trainer, son and father, clearly back on the same page that’s ready to redeem themselves and conquer the world.

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