David Benavidez is back to work.
Training camp is officially underway for the former two-time super middleweight titlist, who has spent the holiday season tucked away in Big Bear, California ahead of his next ring assignment. An expected return in the 1st quarter of 2021 is in the works, with Benavidez keen on reclaiming his 168-pound crown.
“He will fight in March,” Sampson Lewkowicz, Benavidez’s promoter told BoxingScene.com on Monday. “We are working on opponents now, but it will definitely be at super middleweight.”
Benavidez (23-0, 20KOs) hasn’t fought since a 10th round stoppage of Alexis Angulo last August at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The win preserved his unbeaten record, though only after disaster struck one day prior when the Phoenix native came in nearly three pound above the 168-pound limit.
The scale fail resulted in the end of his WBC super middleweight title reign, the second such time Benavidez has conceded a title outside of the ring. His second title tour came without a successful title defense, with the coronavirus pandemic slowing his career progress following a 9th round stoppage of Anthony Dirrell to regain his belt last September.
Benavidez was previously stripped of the WBC belt in Sept. 2018—a little more than a year into his first title reign—after random drug testing conducted through the WBC Clean Boxing Program discovered cocaine in his system. The unbeaten boxer—who was just 21 at the time—owned up to the mistake, as was the case when he missed weight for his aforementioned win over Angulo.
The latter infraction nearly cost Benavidez a place in the super middleweight rankings.
The WBC expressed concern over his ability to safely make weight, initially inserting him as the number-one light heavyweight contender. Lewkowicz ensured the sanctioning body that his charge would come correct the next time around, asking for a favorable ranking at 168 pounds while guaranteeing a willingness to take any fight necessary in order to prove his readiness for a shot at a third title reign.
With that comes the hunt for the right opponent which will allow the 24-year old to return to the title stage in 2021.
“David is very hard at work, he knows what’s at stake,” notes Lewkowicz. “So, we know when he’s fight; we just don’t know who. We don’t want an opponent—we are looking for a good challenger.
“He needs to make 168 pounds to prove that he is ready to once again become super middleweight champion. And of course, he needs the right challenger to get him to the title.”
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez currently claimed the WBC belt, doing so along with dethroning WBA titlist Callum Smith via 12-round unanimous decision last December at The Alamodome in San Antonio. The Mexican superstar and pound-for-pound king will next face mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim, likely to take place in late February.
Benavidez is currently the number-one contender in the WBC’s latest rankings.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox