By Paul Magno | November 27, 2023

Wow. I hadn’t seen a main stage flogging this comprehensive since, well, I guess July when Naoya Inoue thrashed Stephen Fulton and Terence Crawford stopped Errol Spence. But, take my word for it, it’s supposed to be rare when an A-side walks all over another A-side like David Benavidez did this past Saturday against Demetrius Andrade at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.

For about two-and-a half rounds, though, the 35-year-old Andrade was doing what he was supposed to be doing against his pressure-fighting opponent-- getting off first and using movement to keep Benavidez from setting his feet. 

The former two-division world champ and 2008 US Olympian, however, would not survive the first adjustment Benavidez made. 

By the last part of the fourth round, the 26-year-old defending interim WBC super middleweight champ had gotten Andrade’s timing down and was taking the subtle side step needed to trap his angle-minded opponent. And, actually, the beginning of the end came almost immediately after Benavidez made that adjustment, when he landed a huge right hand that dropped Andrade, who was essentially trapped mid-ring, closed in by Benavidez’s left leg. 

Andrade would never really recover from that shot. Or, I should say, he was never ALLOWED to recover. 

At that first taste of blood, Benavidez pounced on the previously undefeated Andrade and didn’t let up until Andrade’s corner waved off the beating between rounds six and seven. 

This was the very definition of a statement fight. And that statement was-- David Benavidez deserves the opportunity to fight unified 168 lb. champ Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and he deserves the big, fat payday that comes with it. 

Seriously, is there any way Alvarez can avoid fighting The Mexican Monster next without suffering a public relations beating greater than the physical beating Andrade suffered at Benavidez’s hands?

For the Mexican cash cow, there is, almost literally, nobody else worth fighting at super middleweight. Rumored bouts with Jaime Munguia, Jermall Charlo, and even Terence Crawford don’t cut it. Benavidez, with back-to-back dominant wins over Caleb Plant and Demetrius Andrade, is THE top contender, confirmed, affirmed, re-affirmed...period. Alvarez-Benavidez is now not only the best and most meaningful fight to make at 168, it’s also the biggest commercial fight. 

I’m not one of those “so-and-so is afraid of so-and-so” guys, but if Alvarez doesn’t take on Benavidez next, it’s going to look like he’s running scared. It’ll be a really, really bad look and a legacy-fucker for a guy who’s been so concerned about his legacy over the years.

So, WILL Canelo-Benavidez be next? As logical and as necessary as it appears to be, there’s no guarantee it happens. Alvarez has challenged himself with tough matchups in the past, but he’s also been fiercely stubborn in not giving in to demands about who he must fight. So, who knows? 

In the meantime, Benavidez will just need to keep doing what he’s doing-- fight the best available opposition and keep building his star power the hard way. How far he’s grown in terms of bankability and drawing power should be a lesson to other young fighters. Put in that hard work, test yourself, and grow that career organically, rather than wait on a payday to be dumped into your lap. If Canelo won’t fight him, Benavidez’s star will continue to grow in bouts with whoever else is left out there at 168-- The Charlos, David Morrell, Chris Eubank Jr.-- or, maybe, whoever’s around at light heavyweight. 

Whatever the case, Benavidez is a legit boxing star now, with equal emphasis on “legit” and “star.” 

As for the rest of the Benavidez-Andrade pay-per-view undercard? 

It was a good one. 

Jermall Charlo, despite all the drama surrounding his inability to make the 163 lb. catchweight limit and the general drama surrounding his entire life these days, dominated Jose Benavidez Jr. en route to a one-sided 10-round decision. Charlo looked good for someone coming off a 2.5 year layoff and for someone who’s been looking dazed and confused for much of that layoff (and throughout the lead-in to this fight). 

Benavidez is tough, but he’s just not elite and he’s definitely not a super middleweight. At 140 he was very good. At 147 he was decent, At 154 he was mid (at best). But at 160-something he’s cannon fodder, a poster boy for CTE. Decisions need to be made by team Jose Jr.

IBF junior welterweight champ Subriel Matias beat Shohjahon Ergashev into submission in what was supposed to be a Fight of the Year firefight. Uzbekistan’s Ergashev started strong, but it became clear very early on that he lacked the stamina, durability, and all-around talent to hang with the all-action Boricua. The fight was waved off by the challenger’s corner between rounds five and six. Can Matias wedge himself into the main stage conversation at 140? Making five consecutive opponents quit on their stools will not help his case in that matter.

In the pay-per-view opener, Lamont Roach got the split decision nod over Hector Luis Garcia to take Garcia’s WBA super featherweight title. It was an alright fight for a “get the pizza box open and bring me a beer” PPV opener, somewhat marred by controversy over a twelfth round cuffing-shot knockdown of Garcia that, ultimately, did affect the outcome of the fight. 

All in all, this was a good, satisfying night of boxing, with a nice YouTube free lead-in and a social media hunt for footage of Curmel Moton in a post-main event swing bout (he won via first round KO). Maybe I’m growing soft in my old age, but it was indeed a good night. 

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