Former super middleweight titleholder David Benavidez returns to action on Saturday night’s FOX pay-per-view card, headlined by Errol Spence Jr vs Mikey Garcia for the IBF welterweight title.
The 22-year-old Benavidez (20-0, 17 KO), who gave up his WBC belt after testing positive for cocaine, is looking to get his young career back on track against veteran J’Leon Love (24-2-1, 13 KO). A win should put him right back in the title hunt.
Benavidez sat down with Fight Hub TV’s Marcos Villegas to tell some stories from sparring some of the sport’s best, with a particular focus on working with Gennady Golovkin and Dmitry Bivol.
On the rarity of sparring with another top fighter, Dmitry Bivol:
“He’s a great fighter. He’s a high caliber, world class fighter, you know what I mean? It’d be kind of silly of me and dumb if I turned down the opportunity to spar him just because he has a belt. Like, what does that mean? He fights in a higher weight class than me and he’s on DAZN. There’s very little chance a fight will be happening now. I can spar him now and maybe in three years I’ll fight him, but a lot can happen in three years. Right now, I’m getting the best work that’s available, and that’s gonna make both of us better. If you’re in there seeing the sparring session, they’re amazing sparring sessions. It’s basically like a real fight in there. But we’re both leaving the gym with something we learned about each other and ourselves. Once you get a chance to work with a world-class fighter like that, man, you’re just gonna learn.”
On Bivol’s power:
“He hits pretty hard. He has heavy hands. Probably, like, an eight, eight-and-a-half (out of 10). But that works for me, too, because when I’m in there I never drop my hands. That’s basically what you need in a real fight. You don’t wanna get comfortable with your hands low. Defense is always tight. That’s where I benefit, because I’ll use that in a real fight or my other sparring sessions. My defense is perfect in the sparring.”
On sparring with Golovkin, Bivol, Gilberto Ramirez, among others:
“Kid Chocolate (Peter Quillin), Kelly Pavlik, Lateef Kayode, Gabriel Rosado, Julian Jackson, Jose Uzcategui — I’ve sparred all of ‘em. If they’re located in California, I’ve sparred them, basically.”
On the hardest puncher of them:
“Golovkin. That guy, bro, you feel — let me just clarify this, just because I say he hits hard, hopefully you don’t go in there and put on the computer, ‘David admits he gets rocked.’ I seen that the other day. Just because I admitted he hits hard — I mean he didn’t hurt me at all, but he does hit hard.
“The thing about Golovkin, he has so much twist and turn on his punches, and he knows precisely how to throw them, that’s what makes his punches hard. And he has heavy fists, too. So all that put together, that’s why he knocks people out the way he does, people don’t get up. I was in training camp with him one time, I seen him knock four guys out back-to-back. Back-to-back. He would drop one, one would get out, another would get in, he’d drop him, another one — that guy, he’s the real deal. ... I was the first one that was sparring him. I would warm him up, basically. I learned so much from him with my defense and all that. You can ask him, you can go interview him, and he’ll tell you about our sparring sessions. We had some great sparring sessions. ... That molded me, because I didn’t have a big amateur career, but I feel like I didn’t have any of the bad habits of the amateurs. So when I did turn pro, I fought like a pro already when I went into the pro game. I didn’t have to settle into it. I already knew what I was doing, I knew what to go for, and I didn’t have any bad habits in the ring. I just continued to grow from there.”