David Benavidez, the WBC super middleweight champion, sort of snorted, and then totally let Caleb Plant, a fellow world champion and a future opponent, have it.
He said he hopes to fight Plant soon, and when asked if he had spoken to Plant, the IBF champion, he sneered.
“I don’t talk to that guy about s—,” said Benavidez, who is building a case for himself as the world’s best 168-pounder. “I can’t stand his fake persona. I don’t like people like him. I don’t like the way he acts. He thinks he’s the cream of the crop and that nobody can touch him. He thinks he’s the second coming of [Floyd] Mayweather or something.”
He laughed at his own line and then paused, looking for the right way to say it.
“We’ve had words and we’ve exchanged some words,” he said. “There’s bad blood between us, for sure. I don’t care what he says or what he thinks, and I’m not going to talk to him until we have a press conference and we’re about to fight. But I think it’s going to be a good fight. Really, we have the beginnings of a great fight here. He doesn’t like me and I don’t like him and we each believe we’re the best.”
The Plant fight is down the road for a bit. Next on his hit list is Roamer Alexis Angulo, whom he’ll fight on Saturday (9 p.m. ET, Showtime) at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The super middleweight division is loaded with talent — Benavidez, Plant, Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders and a guy named Saul Alvarez all hold titles there — and the fight with Angulo isn’t one that would have been on anybody’s list as a must-make.
But Benavidez is a fighter at his core, literally born into the sport. His older brother, Jose, is a welterweight contender who fought pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford for the belt, and his father, Jose Sr., is a trainer.
He’s not on any pound-for-pound lists yet, but given the path he’s on, that seems just a matter of time. He’s big, he’s rangy, he can move well and he can punch.
He’s also become somewhat of a vicious body puncher. Elite body punchers are always among the most feared guys in the sport, and Benavidez credits his success with both a commitment to it as well as learning the proper technique.
“I’ve been going to the body for as long as I’ve been fighting,” Benavidez said. “My Dad taught me the right way to throw body shots. They’re hard to hit, and if you don’t do it right, you can leave yourself open for counters. You really have to set it up properly, but if you do, there is no better punch.
“You have to set it up with a jab or an uppercut. If you think of Julio Cesar Chavez, he was one of the best at it. He’d tap the head a few times and then go to the body. He wouldn’t just start off at the body. It was more effective that way. Head shots are easy, but body shots are harder and riskier, but they also have that huge payoff if you do them right.”
He said he thinks the bout Saturday with Angulo would “be an amazing fight, honestly,” and insisted there is no chance of a letdown. He watched as his brother, who was 27-0 at the time, was beaten and stopped by Terence Crawford in 2018.
That fight hurt David deeply and he said it made him determined to never feel like he did after the bout again.
“It hurt me, it hurt everyone with us,” he said. “I felt like I took the loss. We all did. It was something I’d never felt before, and I said to myself that I never wanted to feel that way again. I learned from what happened to him and I think it’s made me better.”
In a way, he’s the future even though he is already a world champion. And while he’s got a big frame, he plans to stick around at super middleweight to try to knock off all of the big names before he thinks of a move to 175 pounds.
So if things go the way he hopes, there is going to be a lot of big fights in his future.
“There are so many names out there and I want to fight every one of them,” he said. “This is a great division to be in right now and I want to prove that I am the best of all of them. There is only one way to do that, and I’m going to do whatever I can to fight all of those guys to make my point.”
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