He was billed from the first day of his career as a “boxing prodigy,” but not even David “El Bandera Roja” Benavidez himself could have predicted his meteoric rise through the boxing ranks.
Despite having had just 31 boxing matches in his entire life, amateur and professional, 19-year-old Benavidez (16-0, 15 KOs), is already the undefeated WBA #10 super middleweight in the world and a sure lock on 2016 “Prospect of the Year.” The young phenom from Phoenix has been nearly flawless tearing through his ever-escalating level of opponents (his last four had combined records of 62-7), while being labeled a potential superstar by world-famous trainer/commentator Teddy Atlas.
Last Friday night at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia, Benavidez wore down and stopped capable veteran Denis Douglin (20-5, 13 KOs) in the tenth and final round of their ESPN-televised main event.
“It feels amazing to be in this position,” said Benavidez, “everything that has happened wasn’t expected, but we worked hard to get to this point and I feel like I just have to keep working hard, stay in the gym and stay determined and dedicated. I want to be ready for any opportunity that comes up.”
Benavidez, who appears ready to reach a dream and smash the record for youngest super middleweight champion in history (Darrin Van Horn was 22), attributes his natural sense of space in the ring as a big reason for his success.
“I feel like it’s a mix between distance and power in the ring. I know how to control it with the jab and there’s power behind my punches, so I’m are able to get dudes out of there.”
“To be honest I didn’t expect this to happen this soon,” said father/trainer Jose Benavidez. “It’s a dream come true for me to have my sons as two of the best in the world.” David’s brother, Jose Jr., is the undefeated former interim WBA junior welterweight champion.
“Today we went to eat and we were talking about how fast things were happening. We just have to be ready for big opportunities to show up. We’ve got to keep working and stay focused. David knows big challenges are coming, so we have to be ready. I tell him ‘you’re only 19 and people are already talking about you. Keep working hard and make your sacrifices now, so they pay off later. David understands that.”
Both Benavidez credit promoter Sampson Lewkowicz for helping make their miraculous run through the division a reality. “He’s done everything he said he would,” said David. “He says I’ll be back in December against another veteran with good experience. I’ll be ready.”