Taking the Initiative: Unwilling to wait for others, David Benavidez elects to move to light-heavyweight and become a problem there instead

RATHER than wait around and find out if he has been picked to become Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s next opponent, David Benavidez has made it clear he is on a path of his own by agreeing to fight Alexander Gvozdyk in his next bout.

The fight, which was announced last night by the WBC, is scheduled to take place at light-heavyweight – therefore not even in Canelo terrain – and indicates either that Benavidez is done with super-middleweight for good or has simply grown tired of waiting for Canelo to make up his mind.

Regardless, it is encouraging to see a fighter like Benavidez take an opportunity like this and see himself as more than just a potential Canelo opponent. Indeed, by grabbing the initiative and acting first, he has shown both Alvarez and the boxing world that there is more to life – that is, Benavidez’s boxing life – than a collision course with a fellow Mexican he may or may not one day fight. He has a career of his own, after all, and at 27, and with plenty of momentum, will know that these next few years are crucial to both his development and overall success.

Benavidez dominates Demetrius Andrade (David Becker/Getty Images)

Whether these years include Canelo Alvarez or not remains to be seen. At this point, though, there is little to suggest Benavidez was even being considered as Alvarez’s May opponent, never mind leading the race. Instead, all the talk has been of Alvarez fighting Jermall Charlo – the brother of Alvarez’s most recent victim, Jermell – which is a fight of which very few are enamoured.

That has yet to be confirmed, by the way, and there’s still every chance Alvarez will go in a different direction altogether. However, from Benavidez’s point of view, no good was going to come from simply twiddling his thumbs or, at best, trying to position himself for a fight that may well never even materialise.

He seems to have understood this, too, which is why last night his move to light-heavyweight – and his next opponent – was confirmed by the WBC.

“Very proud to announce a sensational fight which the @WBCBoxing has approved to sanction for the interim Light-heavyweight championship Benavidez vs Gvozdyk,” wrote Mauricio Sulaiman, the WBC President, on social media. “Wish the best of luck for both champions @Benavidez300 vs @AlexandrGvozdyk.”

Gvozdyk, a very capable fighter from the Ukraine, fought three times last year, which represented much-needed activity and also a return to both form and confidence following a punishing 2019 defeat to Artur Beterbiev. That remains the only defeat on the 20-1 (16) Gvozdyk record but, at the age of 36, one has to wonder how much losing to Beterbiev took from the former WBC light-heavyweight champion, not only physically but in terms of ambition.

As for Benavidez, he is now 28-0 (24) as a pro and was last seen stopping Demetrius Andrade, a fellow unbeaten fighter, inside six rounds in November. Suffice it to say, if the former WBC super-middleweight champion is to now stick around at light-heavyweight, a division in which Beterbiev and Dimitry Bivol are currently head and shoulders above the rest, his presence will be most welcome.

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