While the main attraction Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles will be the welterweight showdown between Errol Spence and Shawn Porter, the co main event gives us a very good fight that’s been over a year in the making. WBC Super-Middleweight Champion 🇺🇸Anthony Dirrell of Flint, Michigan, will make the first defense of his title against Phoenix, Arizona’s 🇺🇸David Benavidez.
As highly touted as he has been over the past couple of years it’s easy to forget that Benavidez is still just 22 years old. He’s made quite a name for himself in a short amount of time, but it’s been a roller coaster ride as well, going from the chubby teenager that played second fiddle to his big brother Jose, to WBC Super Middleweight champion by beating Ronald Gavril, to his aforementioned drug suspension. Saturday we will find out if it all comes full circle and he becomes the youngest two time Super Middleweight Champion.
When you hear people talk about Benavidez, nobody will start with his defensive skills, he isn’t a fighter that is hard to hit by any stretch. What he is, is a physically strong fighter with a good chin, that once he gets rolling, has a relentless attack that opponents break down against.
At the age of 34, Anthony Dirrell is the vet at 168 right now. Similar to Benavidez he too lived in the shadow of his brother Andre, who initially was viewed as the better fighter long term. Dirrell’s only loss came at the hands of Badou Jack, who up until Benavidez, is most likely his best competition. He has respectable wins against tough veterans Sakio Bika, Marco Antonio Rubio and Caleb Truax, but the younger, stronger Benavidez will be a different animal all together.
The years of experience Dirrell holds over Benavidez will be one of the few advantages he has in this matchup. He knows how to use the ring and has a strong enough defensive skill set to keep things from getting too ugly as Benavidez comes forward in the early rounds. By rounds 5 and 6 as Benavidez will be gaining confidence, picking up steam, and finding his rythym as he presses the action.
When we hit rounds 8 or 9, I expect Dirrell to be in between retreat and survival mode and needing to dig deep to live up to his ring moniker of “The Dog”. Benavidez has displayed a nice killer instinct and finds another gear to turn the heat up by putting viscious combinations together that send his opponents reeling. Once Benavidez hits that point I predict he will become the first fighter to stop Anthony Dirrell and become the youngest two time Super Middleweight Champion.
Prediction: David Benavidez defeats Anthony Dirrell by 10th round TKO.
How They Measure Up
Anthony Dirrell (31-1-1, 24KO)
Nickname: The Dog
Best Wins: Sakio Bika (UD /2014)
David Benavidez (21-0-0, 18KO)
Nickname: El Bandera Roja/ Red Flag
Best Wins: Rogelio Medina (TKO 8 /2017) Ronald Gavril (UD/2018)