Another month, another tough decision.
At least three fighters deserved consideration for the Boxing Junkie Fighter of the Month for March.
Bruising featherweight contender Brandon Figueroa looked like a threat to anyone in his unanimous decision victory over Mark Magsayo on March 4. And junior middleweight Tim Tszyu bolstered his No. 1 contender status in a convincing victory over Tony Harrison on March 12.
However, no one made a stronger statement than David Benavidez, who chased down elusive Caleb Plant, beat him up and won a wide unanimous decision in a 12-round 168-pound fight last Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The athletic Plant presented problems in the first half of the bout with his stick-and-move tactics, as many expected. But Benavidez methodically, intelligently closed the distance in spite of an oversized ring, started landing damaging punches by mid-fight and broke down Plant.
The fact the loser survived to hear the final bell doesn’t detract from Benavidez’s performance one iota; Plant had taken a thorough beating by the end of the fight.
And Benavidez almost certainly would’ve scored a knockout had Plant not been allowed by referee Kenny Bayless to hold incessantly, which, combined with Plant’s movement, limited the winner’s punch output.
The tactic didn’t affect Benavidez’s accuracy. The most-precise puncher in the sport landed a strong 38.1% of his shots overall and an eye-catching 43.0% of his power punches, according to CompuBox. Conversely, Plant landed a paltry 14.6% of his punches, evidence of Benavidez’s defensive abilities.
Get the picture? Benavidez (27-0, 23 KOs) dominated arguably the toughest opponent of his decade-long career to leave no doubt that he’s among the best fighters in the world. And only getting better.
Plant said what everyone was thinking afterward: “He’s a helluva fighter.”
Can Benavidez beat undisputed 168-pound champion Canelo Alvarez?
Only a fight between the two could provide an answer to that question. One thing is certain: Benavidez deserves the opportunity to challenge the Mexican star now more than ever.
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