With WBC super middleweight titleholder David Benavidez set to return in an Aug. 15 main event on Showtime, where he’ll defend against Roamer Alexis Angulo, the fighter’s promoter already has a path in mind for the next fight, though it’s also a path that likely would have been chosen for the Benavidez team.
Sampson Lewkowicz tells ESPN.com that if/when Benavidez (22-0, 19 KO) is successful against Angulo (26-1, 22 KO), the next fight will be a defense against mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim (21-2, 12 KO).
While that’s probably not the fight most people want — as I’m sure everyone would prefer unification with Caleb Planet, Callum Smith, or Billy Joe Saunders — it’s something that does have to be taken care of at some point.
Yildirim, a Turkish fighter who turns 29 in a few weeks, hasn’t fought since a technical decision loss to Anthony Dirrell in Feb. 2019, which was for the vacant WBC belt, which Benavidez had to give up after testing positive for cocaine. Dirrell wa badly cut over the eye in the seventh round and the fight was stopped in the 10th and sent to the cards. Dirrell won a split decision.
Yildirim appealed, seeking an immediate rematch with Dirrell, but that appeal was denied, and the WBC ordered Dirrell to face Benavidez, with Yildirim waiting in the wings. Benavidez beat Dirrell in Sept. 2019, and was allowed an optional defense, which was supposed to take place in April against Angulo, but was pushed back by COVID-19.
But Yildirim will still get his shot, maybe late this year or in early 2021, depending on how everything goes for, you know, everything in the world right now.