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David Benavidez says he’ll only return to super middleweight for Canelo Alvarez | Boxing News

By Alan Dawson

LAS VEGAS — David Benavidez makes his light heavyweight debut Saturday against Oleksandr Gvozdyk at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and it’s a division he’ll likely stay in unless he secures one specific bout at super middleweight.

Speaking exclusively to Boxing News ahead of his 175-pound fight, Benavidez said he’ll only return to 168 if it’s for the one fight that has eluded him throughout his stint in that weight class — a shot at the undisputed champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

“I’m going to be completely honest,” he told us. “I only want the Canelo fight at 168. It’s something I’ve earned.”

Benavidez must first get past Gvozdyk, which is no easy feat. The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist has gone on a tear since turning pro, winning 20 fights (16 by knockout) against just one loss — by knockout, to Artur Beterbiev in 2019. 

Gvozdyk has beaten Tommy Karpency, Isaac Chilemba, and Adonis Stevenson through the years, and is a top-five Ukrainian who is looking to follow the winning run his countrymen have set this year, thanks to victories from Oleksandr Usyk, Vasiliy Lomachenko, Denis Berinchyk, and Serhii Bohachuk.

Though Benavidez and his promoter Sampson Lewkowicz respect Gvozdyk, having spoken to them both in the last week, it is clear they are confident it is a fight they will win, regardless of Gvozdyk’s skills, experience at the weight, and determination to win for his country.

Considering the big fights that may await Benavidez, it is tricky for them not to look beyond Gvozdyk — at Canelo, or at the winner from the Dmitri Bivol vs Artur Beterbiev bout later this year.

“They’re both really big fights,” said Benavidez.

Lewkowicz, meanwhile, told Boxing News that while a fight against the Bivol vs Beterbiev winner “could happen” after the Gvozdyk result, they’ll continue to campaign for the Canelo fight, regardless.

“David wants to go back to 168 pounds,” Lewkowicz said. “He wants Canelo.”

Lewkowicz continued: “He agreed for a very small amount of money to fight him, not for the payday. He wants to beat the best he can at 168, and then go [permanently] to 175.”

Though a fight against Bivol or Beterbiev in Riyadh is a big event, Lewkowicz regards a Canelo showdown to be a crossover show that captures more mainstream interest. “I believe in America. Canelo and Benavidez would sell out any stadium here in 24 hours,” he said, adding that it’s a clear Las Vegas fight.

Whether they book themselves a Canelo bout or not, they’re open to a fight in Saudi Arabia against the best the light heavyweight division has to offer. Because, according to Lewkowicz, Benavidez “deserves to be top of the list for the 10 best fighters in the world.”

For Benavidez it was always a case of belts over money, “My dream was to get all the belts and stay champion,” the boxer told us.

“The guy I want to fight [Canelo] — he has all the belts — but he doesn’t want to fight me. If we can actually get an agreement, I’ll fight him there but if it’s not against Canelo, I won’t be going back down.”

The Benavidez vs Gvozdyk fight, which precedes a main event between Gervonta Davis and Frank Martin, airs as a Premier Boxing Champions pay-per-view on Prime Video. The show is also available on PPV.com.

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