David Benavidez had to do two things leading into Saturday's contest with Ronald Ellis. He needed to make the 168-pound super middleweight limit and beat Ellis to secure a future fight against unified champion Canelo Alvarez, IBF titlist Caleb Plant, WBO titleholder Billy Joe Saunders or WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo.
After easily making weight Friday, Benavidez put on a show Saturday night by beating Ellis via 11th-round TKO from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Benavidez was ahead on the judges' cards with scores of 98-92, 98-92, and 99-91 at the time of the stoppage.
He began the second round with a hard left hook, immediately followed by a stinging body shot. Then, the 24-year-old started zipping the jab through Ellis' guard and that allowed him to connect on heavy power shots. Any time Ellis would appear to be clawing his way back into the fight, Benavidez would dash those hopes with one power shot after another.
After Ellis had a good fifth round, Benavidez broke his will in the sixth by continually slicing through Ellis' guard with powerful right uppercuts and hard left hooks to the body. Benavidez continued the assault to the point where the fight almost was stopped by Ellis' corner after the eighth round. While Ellis showed more spirit in the ninth round, Benavidez still was the aggressor with a blistering jab that kept sending him back to the ropes.
Knowing it was just a matter of time before he sent Ellis packing, Benavidez poured it on in the 11th round. Benavidez kept uncorking heavy shots, and the fight was stopped.
Benavidez plans on coming back in either August or September. He had choice words for Charlo, Plant, and Alvarez.
"He (Charlo) was talking about me, saying he could knock me out," Benavidez said in his post-fight interview. "If it's that easy, come do it. I feel like it makes sense for me and him. We both need that next step up to get into bigger and better things. I feel like it makes sense on both parts."
"As soon as he (Plant) grows some balls, I'm ready right now" Benavidez continued. "I don't think he's ready right now. Whenever he wants to fight me, I'm right here standing."
On Alvarez: "I definitely feel like I beat Canelo Alvarez. Right now, I beat Canelo Alvarez. I feel like it would be a great fight for the fans, too. The end of the day, people want to see great fights."