George Bernard Shaw famously wrote that “youth is wasted on the young.” While this is generally an accurate observation there are always exceptions.
David Benavidez (20-0-0, 17KOs) is a young boxer who is proving that Shaw's statement doesn't apply to everyone. A professional at 16, the now 21-year-old is the current WBC super-middleweight world champion.
The boxer from Arizona has experienced plenty so far in his boxing journey so I was happy to have the opportunity to ask him about achieving so much at such a young age.
Benavidez was recently involved in a promotional tug-of-war between his current promoter, Sampson Boxing, and Top Rank, who fancied adding the young world champion to their stable. Despite it being reported that Benavidez had signed a deal with Top Rank it was revealed in the last few days that he had in fact chosen to remain under the Sampson banner.
The timing of this interview meant that this subject was very much in play but when I enquired about this Benavidez advised that he would rather not discuss it as the legal process surrounding the whole affair had still not been fully completed. Probably wise.
Making the most of his youth and with an apparently good head on his young shoulders, David Benavidez is going places. Here's the interview.
CM: Hi David. Can you tell the readers a bit about your early days in boxing? How did you first get involved in the sport? Any amateur highlights you wish to share? What was behind your decision to turn pro so early?
DB: I originally started boxing for fitness. I also wanted to be like my big brother, Jose, so naturally I went into boxing. I didn't have that much amateur experience so I turned pro at 16. Because I was under 18 I had to fight in Mexico. This helped me gain experience.
CM: Speaking of the bouts in Mexico when you were so young – what are your memories from these fights? What was the standard of your opponents like?
DB: My memories of those fights were mostly learning how to box and putting my punches together. The opposition wasn't that tough for me so it helped me learn how to pick my shots.
CM: You are also known for having had sparring sessions with established professionals when you were still a novice fighter. Kelly Pavlik and GGG to name two. What were those sessions like? How much do you feel you learned?
DB: It was amazing! The experience helped mould my professional boxing style. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with those guys. Working with them taught me so much.
CM: You became WBC 168lb world champion in September last year. It was your 19th pro fight and you became the youngest world champion in the history of the super-middleweight division. What do you recall from that fight and the moment you were announced as the winner?
DB: It was a feeling that is impossible to put into words. It was something I worked my whole life for and I was just really happy. I am grateful for having my Dad and the whole team supporting me.
CM: That title winning first fight against Gavril was scored a split decision and there were some who thought Gavril had done enough to merit the win. How did you view the overall reaction to your win and was there any extra motivation in training for the rematch?
DB: The first fight was close. I felt I had won most of the rounds but I was upset that I was knocked down in the last round. That really motivated me to work harder through the training camp for that second fight with Gavril in order to show the fans that I am better than that.
CM: The World Boxing Super Series is currently holding a tournament in your division. How closely have you been keeping an eye on things? Any thoughts on the upcoming final between George Groves and Callum Smith?
DB: I have been keeping an eye on the tournament and I think it is going to be a close fight in the final. They are both amazing fighters. I would love to fight either one of those guys as it would motivate me to bring the absolute best out of myself.
CM: Finally, what are your plans for the immediate future and also your career as a whole?
DB: Ultimately my goal is to unify the titles at super-middleweight. I feel like I have the best team in boxing and I will continue to work hard towards unifying the titles.