David Benavidez has to catch himself mid-sentence.
He’s pondering about who his next and most realistic opponent might be if he’s successful in producing fireworks against veteran David Lemieux for the vacant interim WBC super-middleweight title at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz. on Saturday night.
Just then, the former two-time WBC super-middleweight world champion forces himself to separate wishful thinking from a gaffe he makes.
“I think next may be Ca — not Canelo — Caleb Plant,” Benavidez rectifies during a recent phone call with DAZN.
“Or (Jermall) Charlo. I think those guys are the fights that can happen most likely. But I mean, whatever they want me to do. I’m just ready to fight.”
Welcome to the world of “El Bandera Roja,” arguably the most avoided fighter in boxing. At 25-years-old, Benavidez has etched a 25-0 record with 22 of those wins coming by the way of knockout. The only person to defeat him has been himself — once via a failed drug test in September 2018 and the other time from tipping the scale overweight in August 2020. Benavidez was stripped of the title both times.
Other than that, Benavidez’s relentless, switch-hitting style has been jarring.
Plant, a former super middleweight world champion himself, and Charlo, the current reigning WBC middleweight titleholder, have each gone on record saying that they’d be willing to fight Benavidez. However, neither bout has come to fruition. Prior to Canelo being upset by Dmitry Bivol earlier this month, the boxing superstar implored for Benavidez to fight Charlo and that he’d face the winner.
Mike Tyson even pressed Charlo to fight Benavidez when the WBC middleweight champ appeared on the “Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson” podcast back in March.
“You ever think about Benavidez, would you fight him?” Tyson asked Charlo straight up.
“I’ll fight him, for sure,” Charlo responded.
“Why they not letting you fight this guy?” Tyson shot back.
“This guy got me calling him the 'Mexican Monster.' Everybody’s scared of this guy.”
All of this buzz without any of the aforementioned fights materializing yet has Benavidez feeling like he’s purposely being evaded.
“Yeah, kind of. I do feel like I’m a little bit avoided boxer,” Benavidez says.
“It’s not even me by saying that. Just look at the proof. A lot of these fighters have the opportunity to fight me but nobody wants to fight me.
“It’s super frustrating, bro,” he continues.
“But at the end of the day, I feel like the walls are closing in for all these fighters and they’re eventually going to have to face me.”
Between Plant and Charlo, Benavidez believes a fight with the former is the more likely to be made.
“Charlo hasn’t even come up to 168 (pounds) yet,” Benavidez snaps.
“He still has a fight lined up (against Maciej Sulecki on June 18). Caleb Plant has to fight Anthony Dirrell and then maybe towards the end of the year, we can get that fight to happen. We don’t know if Charlo is going to still stay at 160 or go up to 168.”
Charlo did tell Fight Hub TV about plans to move up to 168 pounds last weekend after his twin brother, Jermell Charlo, became the undisputed junior middleweight champion of the world.
Still, with neither fight materializing just yet, Benavidez has had to get creative and think out the box. Noticing how WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade has also been clamoring for a crack at Canelo, Benavidez thinks a bout with “Boo Boo” can force the Mexican icon’s hand for a fight with the winner.
“It's definitely what could happen if both belts are put on the line,” Benavidez says about a fight with Andrade leading to a shot at Canelo.
“But unfortunately ‘Boo Boo’ Andrade is out from an injury, so I’m just thinking that I want to fight the best fighters out there and get the respect from the fans. If he’s one of the best fighters out there that I gotta face, then I’ll definitely face him.”
Benavidez campaigning hard for a fight with Canelo, along with an uptick of fans and critics alike doing the same, ended when the face of boxing chose to climb back up to the light heavyweight ranks for a fight with Bivol on May 7.
The bout had Bivol unleash piercing punch combinations behind a stiff jab, leading to an unanimous victory upset — one that Benavidez was forced to accept. Though the sting of not getting a chance to hand Canelo the loss himself didn’t come without a learned scouting report and the valuable intel within it.
“Canelo is really susceptible to counters, counter left hooks especially,” says Benavidez about his main takeaway from the fight.
“You just got to use the ring and move around a lot. It was a good fight on Bivol’s end.”
Eyeing his own fights, Benavidez believes he’s got “maybe two or three years left at 168, then I’ll go up to 175.”
By then, Benavidez hopes that he has shed the avoided tag as an even more accomplished fighter with a bolstered resume from the bouts that have previously eluded him.
Until then, Benavidez believes the fans have an acute understanding for his current position.
“What the fans see, they see that everyone else is scared, so I feel like the fans are starting to give me the respect I deserve,” Benavidez touts.
“To be honest, bro, I don’t even know what comes next,” he further concedes. “I’m just ready for whatever, man. My job is to take whatever fights they give me.”
Follow DAZN News on Saturday night for all live updates, results and highlights from Benavidez vs. Lemieux.