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Benavidez pounds Andrade, makes case for Canelo superfight — PHOTOS

Updated November 25, 2023 - 10:36 pm

First David Benavidez pressured Demetrius Andrade.

Then he pressured Canelo Alvarez.

“Give me the fight we all want to see,” said Benavidez, the undefeated, power-punching 26-year-old super middleweight standout.

“Who wants to see David Benavidez versus Canelo?”

The better question: Who doesn’t?

Benavidez further solidified his superstar status Saturday at Michelob Ultra Arena, dropping and stopping Andrade — a former two-division champion — in six rounds to retain the WBC’s interim super middleweight championship. The victory theoretically propels Benavidez (28-0, 24 knockouts) closer to a bout with Alvarez, the undisputed 168-pound champion with whom Benavidez has long coveted — and deserved — a fight.

As boxing’s cash cow, Alvarez chooses his opponents, and Benavidez at this point is the obvious challenger.

“The people want to see this fight,” said Benavidez, a Phoenix native and two-time super middleweight champion.“I’ve been winning the fights I’m supposed to win in fantastic fashion. He has nobody else to fight. If they want to give it to me now, later, whatever. I’m not going nowhere.”

Benavidez on Saturday capped a banner year that began in March with his first signature victory: a dominant decision over former IBF champion turned 168-pound stalwart Caleb Plant at the MGM Grand Garden. But Alvarez elected to fight former undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo, leaving Benavidez to fight Andrade instead.

A former junior middleweight and middleweight champion who hadn’t before faced an active or former champion, Andrade, 35, had hoped to prove himself against Benavidez, who promised a knockout throughout the promotion.

“I thought my skills would overwhelm him,” said Andrade, a slick southpaw from Providence, Rhode Island. “But his size is what got his hand raised today.”

Sure enough, Benavidez claim to the center of the ring — forcing Andrade to circle amid relentless pressure to which he’d eventually succumb. He targeted Benavidez’s body with crisp left hands until Benavidez found his fighting range.

A flush right hand floored Andrade (32-1, 19 KOs) at the end of the fourth round, preceding picturesque combinations in the fifth and sixth that wobbled his legs and left him staying on his stool. Referee Thomas Taylor stopped the bout at the behest of Andrade’s corner, triggering a chorus of cheers from a packed arena that included Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather and Terence Crawford.

“There’s a lot of critics that said (Andrade) is going to outbox me, that my defense is not good, that I’m going to get hit,” Benavidez said. “They said the same thing with Caleb Plant, and I continue shutting the critics up.”

The onus is on Alvarez to fight Benavidez, who added afterward that he’d consider a move to light heavyweight should the 33-year-old Mexican icon continue to wilfully bypass their prospective bout. Benavidez as the WBC ‘s interim champion is Alvarez’s mandatory challenger, though the sanctioning body must enforce the fight for his newfound positioning to mean anything.

Other super middleweight contenders include David Morrell Jr. and Jermall Charlo, who beat Jose Benavidez Jr. in the co-feature.

But Alvarez-Benavidez is the biggest fight in boxing — and an inevitability, seemingly, at one point or another.

“I’m the best in the division,” Benavidez said. “For Canelo, and everybody else, (the knockout) just show’s everybody I’m not (expletive) around. I’m here to stay.”

Charlo ends lengthy layoff

Charlo (33-0, 22 knockouts), the WBC middleweight champion, ended a 29-month layoff with a 100-90, 99-91, 98-92 victory over Benavidez (28-3-1, 19 KOs) in their 163-pound catchweight bout.

The 33-year-old Charlo, who was overweight Friday, utilized an educated jab that he followed with combinations that overwhelmed the game but overmatched Benavidez, 31.

CompuBox counted 243 connections compared to 86 for Benavidez, who absorbed plenty of punishment but maintained his aggression through the final bell.

“This division right here (is the most comfortable for me),” Charlo said. “Whatever division I’m in, I’m going to conquer it. I’m going to do what I have to do. Bring me to the best place. I promise my fans are the people of boxing. To the people of boxing, I’ll be back.”

In the penultimate fight on the undercard, IBF junior welterweight champion Subriel Matias (20-1, 20 KOs) defended his title with a sixth-round technical knockout over Shohjahon Ergashev (23-1, 20 KOs).

Matias, 31 and from Puerto Rico, dominated on the inside — blending clubbing shots to the head and body of the 31-year-old Uzbek amid relentless pressure.

Ergashev was game in the early going, but wilted rapidly and quit on his stool after the fifth round.

Matias afterward issued a callout to WBO junior welterweight champion Teofimo Lopez, WBC junior welterweight challenger Devin Haney and lightweight superstar Gervonta Davis.

“If you want that, come over here and fight,” he said through an interpreter.

In the pay-per-view opener, Lamont Roach Jr. (24-1-1, nine KOs) scored a 12th-round knockdown to take the WBA junior lightweight title from Hector Luis Garcia via a 116-111, 114-113, 113-114 split decision.

Roach, 28 and from Washington, D.C., traded exchanges with the 32-year-old Dominican for the better part of 12 rounds — landing a check hook in the final frame that resembled a rabbit punch and dropped Garcia (16-2, 10 KOs).

“I thought I won the fight, but that’s what happens when you leave it in the judges’ hands. That last round made all the difference,” Garcia said through a translator.

After Benavidez’s victory over Andrade, 17-year-old Las Vegan and top prospect Curmel Moton (2-0, two KOs) scored a first-round knockout over Hunter Turbyfill (3-1, one KO).

Contact Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on X.

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