By Rocky Morales at ringside
Photos: Sumio Yamada
Super middleweight David “El Bandera Roja” Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs) regained the WBC 168-pound title with a bloody ninth round TKO over current champion Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell (33-2-1, 24 KOs) on Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
After a tactical few opening rounds, Benavidez started to take control by the fifth round with his relentless stalking and power punching. Dirrell tried his best to return fire but Benavidez gleefully walked through Dirrell’s punches.
In the sixth round, a punch from Benavidez opened up a bad cut in the right eyelid of Dirrell. Blood would drip for the remainder of the fight and with Dirrell likely behind on the scorecards, he had no choice but to fight onward.
The seventh and eight rounds belonged to Benavidez as he started to put the hurt on Dirrell with his power punches.
With Dirrell taking more punishment in the ninth round, midway through the round, Dirrell’s corner did the right thing and stopped the fight to save their fighter from unnecessary further punishment. Time was 1:39.
With the victory, Benavidez regains the WBC title that was stripped from him after testing positive for cocaine in September 2018 that also led to a four month suspension. Moreover, Benavidez appears to be a huge threat to any other super middleweight champion out there, whether Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders or fellow PBC fighter, Caleb Plant.