David Benavidez batters, knocks out David Lemieux in Round 3

·3 min read

David Benavidez boldly sent a message to his rivals in both deed and words Saturday.

First the super middleweight contender delivered a short, but fearful beating against overmatched David Lemieux before the fight was mercifully stopped in the third round in Glendale, California. And then he dared the top fighters at or near his weight to face him next.

“I’m waiting for them to sign the contract,” said Benavidez, referring to the likes of Caleb Plant, Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade and even Canelo Alvarez. “Them bitches know what’s up. I’m waiting for them. I’m not scared of nobody.

“I’m the youngest guy. I’m a three-time world champion in the 168-pound division. I’ll put up my belts against anybody. And I’ll guarantee you I’ll knock everybody out.”

Benavidez’s rivals evidently haven’t been in a hurry to face him. Perhaps we saw why on Saturday.

The Phoenix native, fighting in front of his hometown fans at Gila River Arena, fought methodically to open the scheduled 12-round fight for the WBC’s “interim” title. He jabbed well, landed some hard body shots and a few to the head, but he took his time.

Then, in an instant, everything changed. A left hook to Lemieux’s head with 12 seconds to go in the opening round buckled his knees and hurt him badly. He managed to stay on his feet even under a barrage of follow-up punches but that was the beginning of the end for the Canadian slugger.

Benavidez continued the onslaught at the start of Round 2. About 20 seconds into the frame, he put Lemieux on his behind and under the ropes with a left hand. The winner continued to pound Lemieux with an assortment of punishing shots, which ultimately drew blood and made it seem clear that Lemieux wouldn’t last much longer.

The former middleweight titleholder showed great courage and resilience – punching back with vigor even amid a firestorm – but Benavidez was landing too many punches for Lemieux’s cornermen, who stopped the fight to save their man from undue punishment.

The official time of the stoppage was 1:31 of Round 3.

Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) was asked immediately after the fight how he was able to dominate a motivated veteran opponent who was fighting to keep his career as an elite fighter alive.

“Because Mike Tyson gave me the name ‘Mexican Monster.’ What did you think I was going to do?,” he said. “I’m the strongest 168-pounder. Nobody can mess with me.”

There wasn’t much Lemieux (43-5, 36 KOs) could say afterward.

“After the first round, I was OK,” he said. “I got hit with good shots [but] I came back. I got to give him respect. He’s a good fighter, good hands, good movement. Congrats to him.”

The opponent Benavidez wants most is Alvarez, the undisputed 168-pound champion who lost a decision to light heavyweight beltholder Dmitry Bivol on May 7. He’d like a shot at the world titles and an opportunity for a defining victory, not to mention a financial windfall.

However, Alvarez is likely to face Bivol again or Gennadiy Golovkin in a third fight in September.

Thus, Benavidez will need a different dance partner for his next fight. He has mentioned super middleweight contender Plant and middleweight titleholders Charlo and Andrade as potential foes who could generate interest and further his career.

At the same time, he’s patient. He’s only 25. He knows the opportunities will come. And when they do, he’s certain things will fall his way.

“When I first started, I thought one world championship was impossible,” said Benavidez, a former two-time beltholder. “Now I have three. So the sky’s the limit right now.”