A recap of their terrific fight, and a brief look at the champion's ascendancy to superstardom.
Another reason why David Benavidez is beloved could be seen at the 12th round of his star-stamping victory Saturday night. And it happened right as the champion was on the brink of a brutal stoppage of a terrific fight.
The first half of it was captured by the drama of his opponent, Caleb plant fighting the fight of his life. Leaving the white south to get first rate boxing training, he shortened up his style, had a sharper jab, stopped telegraphing his punches and looked like a sober Michael Nunn for the first six rounds.Watching with some former members of my young men’s class, I couldn’t help but be moved by them cheering for him. Plant may have been white, but like them, he talked about his black daughter’s life mattering, the pain of losing a child, and the dedication he had to be a father and husband. This wasn’t Justin Timberlake saying nucca and asking for his ghetto pass.. This was an everyman that could be seen in every black neighborhood. And here he was, going beyond himself and his limitations against one of the most skilled fighters of his generation.
And yet. After shaking off his ring rust in the first two rounds, Benavidez started using his great weapon, his neoclassical gaucho left hook to the body, to make it more painful for Plant to move and work in every round. By the 6th, Plant was in the snares of a terrific fighter who wanted to exert every amount of his talent. From the 7th to the 11th, Benavidez showed the ancestor harkening infighting skills and hand speed and seemed to get stronger and better as the fight went on. By the end of the 11th, Plant was 2 rounds past needing to be stopped, and everyone watching the fight with me began to cuss Plant’s cornermen out.
Yet instead of picking up his space, gunning for a stoppage, and risking doing serious damage to Plant, Benavidez…took his pedal off the gas like a gladiator with a street code of ethics. Like Ray Robinson in his fight with an ancient Henry Armstrong. Muhammad Ali and Roy Jones Against over-matched opponents who didn’t call them out their names, and Julio Cesar Chavez after the 9th round against Hector Camacho, Benavidez only threw enough to keep The badly beaten plant off of him. It’s one of those rarest streaks of the best of machismo and a scene that played like one of Hemingway’s better short stories.