Weight or Wait: David Benavidez confronts one of boxing's inevitable combos

By Norm Frauenheim

Wait?

Or weight?

For David Benavidez, they are two options that sound alike and are linked by what he does after losing his super-middleweight title on the scale before his stoppage of Roamer Alexis Angulo last week.

He can wait, get back in line, fight his way back into a mandatory shot for his old title or a different one. The guess here: That wait wouldn’t be a long one. If he isn’t the world’s best 168-pound fighter right now, he soon will be.

But soon is a relative term, defined by a clock he can’t always control. Benavidez is 23. He’s growing, faster perhaps than he knows. His maturing body and metabolism will have the final say-so, no matter what he eats or how long he sits in a sauna.

For now, he’s gambling he can forestall the inevitable with a strict diet and Spartan-like discipline. He said after forcing Angulo to quit after the 10th round that he’ll stay at super-middleweight.

In part, he blamed his weight – 2.8 pounds over the 168-pound maximum – on pre-fight changes forced by the COVID pandemic. I hear him. I’m dragging around a lot more than an extra 2.8 pounds since gyms and pools shut down. It’s hard to mask the quarantine fifteen.

“When I usually lose weight, I follow a system,’’ Benavidez said after he beat Angulo into submission at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. “Two gallons of water, you know, on Sunday, then two on Monday. Then, you know, but I cut all that off. You know what I mean? Because I wasn’t really sure how this bubble was going to work. We were only able to work out one hour a day, for an hour.

“And I didn’t have a sauna, and really the stuff I need to cut my weight. You know what I mean? But at the end of the day, I’m a man. You know, I missed weight, so you know, I’m not making any excuses. But I’m very disappointed about that. You know, stripped of my belt, paid a huge fine. You know what I mean? But at the end of the day, I’m still undefeated.”

He protected his record (23-0, 20 KOs). That was a wise move from a young fighter smart enough to know that Angulo was heavy-handed enough to be dangerous, especially if he had entered the ring weakened by a futile attempt to make weight. Benavidez could have returned to the scale two hours later. But he said no, knowing he couldn’t shed the extra pounds. He probably won’t remain unbeaten forever. Meanwhile, there are plenty of belts.

There are reasons to think his old belt, the World Boxing Council’s version, will be available to him after a relatively short wait. Canelo Alvarez got himself in line for it in a bout against Turk Avni Yildirim, who was set for a mandatory shot at Benavidez before the scale fail.

By a 36-1 vote this week, the WBC Board of Governors granted Canelo’s request for a shot at the vacated title. I’m not sure who cast the lone dissenting vote, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was somebody who has an investment in DAZN. Canelo-versus-Yildirim? Yildirim has two losses, including one to Anthony Dirrell, who Benavidez stopped a year ago. Safe to say, DAZN wants more for its money. The streaming service has been paying Canelo $33 million a fight. Now, there are reports that he is due $40 million for his next fight.

In a third fight against Gennadiy Golovkin, may be. Against somebody named Yildirim, no way.

In large part, Benavidez hopes to stay at 168-pounds long enough for a showdown against Caleb Plant, who holds the International Boxing Federation’s super-middleweight belt. Trash-talk escalation between Benavidez and Plant fueled hopes for a fight later this year. But COVID-19 changed expectations. Now, Benavidez-Plant doesn’t figure to happen until next year. It’s also not clear whether Plant would want to fight a Benavidez without a title.

For now, at least, Benavidez needs to test to determine whether he can still make 168. That means a bout under today’s COVID-dictated protocol with a 168-pound somebody. Maybe a somebody like Avni Yildirim.

Another scale fail would dictate a move up in weight to light-heavy.

Then, Benavidez would have to wait on Plant to make the move.

Wait and weight, it’s one of boxing’s inevitable combos.

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