On the aspiring young Renton champion, and his superb, compelling( if overmatched) pro of an opponent.
To this grandson of a bartender who watched tapes of the Univision classic fights replays her brown former customers gave to her; David Benavidez fights like another imperfect great fighter of half a century ago. Like the Renton super middleweight champion, Ruben Olivares was a terrific, action fighter who could knock out with a bomb of a right hand and a gift for infighting that could break down your body. Also like Benavidez, Olivarez often fought through his own chemical and physical neglect. Winning 52 out of his first 54 flights by knockout, he was the most beloved Mexican fighter before Julio Caesar Chavez, but cocaine alcohol and celebrity took him out before he was 30 years old. ( Ricardo Garibay, one of the more underrated writers of the latin boom era, wrote a book on how drug culture and celebrity begin to decay him.)
So it has been a wonderful surprise to see Benavidez publicly going to therapy and showing up to fight Caleb Plant in the best shape of his life. The Las Vegas via Tennessee Transplant, Plant is a terrific Pro with a lot of heart. The story of his trailer roots, and blunt, post-online social justice sense of multiculturalism has won him a following and an earned position as a seven-figure fighter. In impeccable shape himself, Plant could find Benavidez like a lot of fighters with coke habits, with less of himself than he thought even when he got sober, and pull off a victory. The problem is, in his fights with Canelo Alvarez and Anthony Direll, he has shown he can be touched and worn down by fighters with decent power. Benavidez has the kind of pop rarely seen in a generation, and the hand speed to get inside a slick boxer like Caleb and give him problems.
My prediction is that Saturday will be a lot of things. It will be a down payment for Benavidez’s place in boxing history. It will be the beginning of the debate between him and Rocky Lockridge on who is the greatest fighter to call Washington state home. A win will open doors for The Tacoma Dome as the gateway for black and brown locals to see him. A convincing win will force Alvarez to fight him in a historically transitional mega-million-dollar match. A convincing win over Alvarez will make the debate between him and Lockridge short-lived.
Benavidez by KO in the 7th.