Former super middleweight titleholder David Benavidez is looking forward to getting back into the ring on Saturday night, when he faces veteran J’Leon Love on the Spence-Garcia pay-per-view undercard at AT&T Stadium in Texas.
The 22-year-old Benavidez (20-0, 17 KO) has been out of the ring for 13 months following a rematch win over Ronald Gavril in Feb. 2018. He tested positive for cocaine on a VADA test last September, and as a result wound up stripped of his WBC 168-pound title and suspended six months by the sanctioning body.
Benavidez, generally a candid sort, has made up no excuses, no stories of someone spiking his protein shakes with cocaine. He admits he did it, says it was stupid, and now is ready to move on with what is still a very promising career.
He also says that he’s anxious to get back into the mix, having been forced to the sidelines and watching others, like Anthony Dirrell (who took the vacant WBC belt recently) and Caleb Plant, win world titles in his division:
“I love boxing so much, seeing everyone have their glory, I know I could’ve been right there, it just made me more upset the fact that I was that stupid just to make some kind of mistake like that. ... It motivated me a lot seeing all these guys coming up. There’s a lot of great fights that can be made. I’m back stronger than ever, I’m more motivated than ever just to prove to the people and everybody that I let down.”
A win on Saturday for Benavidez could see him move right back into a world title fight by the end of 2019. He’s got star qualities, and not only is he young, but he’s young and fairly well proven already. Two of the titles at 168 are currently in the PBC ranks, too; Benavidez could chase the WBC belt again and go after Dirrell (33-1-1, 24 KO), or he could target the IBF belt and Plant (18-0, 10 KO). Either one would be a good fight, and I’m particularly fascinated by a potential Plant-Benavidez style matchup, personally. I think that could be really interesting for both of them.
But he has to win Saturday first, of course, and that is what’s expected. Love (24-2-1, 13 KO) is a 31-year-old fighter who was once seen as a bright young prospect, but he’s never reached the heights that some expected. Even before his 2014 KO loss to Rogelio “Porky” Medina, he had struggled in fights with Gabriel Rosado (where Love also tested positive for a banned diuretic) and Marco Antonio Periban. His career has never really recovered from the loss to Medina. He’s gone 6-1-1 since, but with no really notable wins, and a clear loss to a comebacking Peter Quillin last time out.