Unbeaten Benavidez defends super middleweight crown

New York (AFP) –


Undefeated American David Benavidez defends his World Boxing Council super middleweight world title for the third time on Saturday against Colombia's Alexis Angulo.

Benavidez, 22-0 with 19 knockouts, returns to action in the feature bout at Uncasville, Connecticut, some 11 months after stopping countryman Anthony Dirrell in the ninth round.

"I'm very eager to get back in the ring and give the fans a great fight," Benavidez said. "Training camp has been amazing.

"Fortunately, my dad opened his own gym just before the pandemic, so we've had private training and been able to safely bring in sparring partners to help me work."

In 2017, Benavidez became the youngest champion in super middleweight history at age 20 by beating Ronald Gavril in a split decision for the vacant crown, then kept it by winning a unanimous decision over the Romanian in a 2018 rematch.

Angulo, who at 36 gives away 13 years to his opponent, is 26-1 with 22 knockouts. He has three wins since suffering his lone loss in his only prior world title fight, losing a unanimous decision to unbeaten Mexican Gilberto Ramirez in 2018 for the World Boxing Organization crown.

"I'm ready for anything that happens," Angulo said. "Benavidez is a strong champion, but my style will be too much for him and I will have my hand raised on fight night."

Angulo says he has been helped by the COVID-19 shutdown of boxing.

"It has helped me tremendously," the South American said. "I've been able to prepare better, and not just physically, but also spiritually and emotionally. I'm more prepared than I've ever been and this is really the best thing that could have happened to me.

"I know the coronavirus has affected many people negatively, but for me it has been the total opposite. It has just given me a lot more time to train."

Benavidez is wary of his veteran rival but still confident he can find a way to knock him out.

"I'm ready for whatever he brings to the ring. I just have to be patient," Benavidez said. "I can't just try to knock him out and leave myself open.

"I'm facing a very tricky and rugged fighter, so I'm taking him very seriously. I feel like I can take advantage of some openings in his defense and look for the knockout like I do every fight."