David Benavidez: ‘I’m Not Looking Past Oleksandr Gvozdyk, But I Am Looking Through Him’

LAS VEGAS – David Benavidez has promised that he has not overlooked Ukraine’s Oleksandr Gvozdyk.

All week, Benavidez has answered questions about what might be next for him should he get by Gvozdyk in his first fight since moving up to 175 pounds, whether he will get the contest with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez or if he would want to fight the October winner of the unified light heavyweight title fight between Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev.

That, of course, is insulting to Gvozdyk, whom he is set to meet at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday, but Benavidez said his mind has stayed only on the task at hand.

Ahead of Anthony Joshua’s unravelling in the first fight with Andy Ruiz, in New York in 2019, the Englishman found himself fielding a relentless tide of questions about a future bout with Deontay Wilder. Ruiz stopped Joshua in seven rounds in a stunning upset.

“The difference between me and Anthony Joshua and what happened there is, I don’t think he took that fight seriously,” Benavidez said. “I take every fight 100 per cent serious. I do not mess around with this. I know one bad performance can put you all the way to the back of the bus. I’ve prepared very hard for this fight, like I do every fight. Four months total in training camp and we leave no stone unturned. I’m not looking past Gvozdyk, but I am looking through him. That means I’m gonna take him out, but I’m prepared for everything he’s gonna bring to the table. Strength, speed, endurance – it’s all 100 per cent.”

Gvozdyk looked in terrific shape at yesterday’s weigh-in, but Benavidez has a frame that could probably carry 200 pounds.

He is still only 27, and 28-0 (24 KOs), and he agrees with Gvozdyk, who thinks light heavyweight might suit the Phoenix-born puncher more than 168.

“Definitely,” Benavidez said. “Every fight we get better and better, but this is where I’m gonna shine, in this weight class. It’s been the easiest weight cut of my whole career. I’ve been really happy all week long. I still have a lot of energy. The simple fact of me not being depleted as much and not going down to 168, I’m going to have more strength, more speed, more endurance. So overall, I’m gonna be a better fighter in the ring. It’s going to be a great fight. I’ve prepared very hard and I’m ready to go.”

Benavidez has built momentum outside the ropes as well as inside. His ovations from the public this week have been second only to those received by Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who co-headlines against Frank Martin – but even then, they have not been far off Tank’s receptions. 

“Every single fight I feel the popularity is growing more and more, but it wasn’t overnight,” Benavidez explained. “I’ve been a professional for 10 years. This is my 11th year as a professional, so it’s definitely taken some time. But now we’re here, we’re going to keep applying the pressure and showing that I’m the best in the world.”

Does he feel Gvozdyk is his greatest threat to date?

“I feel like every next fight is going to be the most dangerous fight,” Benavidez said. “That’s why I prepare 100 percent for every fighter, I don’t overlook any fighter. I know Gvozdyk has great amateur pedigree, great professional fights, great ex-champion – he has the whole package.”

But about Canelo: Benavidez’s performance will likely be analyzed by the Mexican hero and his team. If Benavidez looks good, then Canelo may continue in another direction. If he doesn’t look so good, then cries supporting Benavidez’s claims for the fight might quieten.

“I don’t ever think about looking bad,” Benavidez said. “Every time I go in there, I do my job, I try to do the job to the best of my ability. And sometimes that might scare other fighters away from me, but I don’t care. My job is always to go in there and look the best I can possibly look.”

Much has been made of comments made about Benavidez’s rehydrated weight, and he claimed that they’ve never been an issue after Canelo had said Benavidez brought nothing to the table for a bout other than an additional 25 pounds on fight night.

“In any fight, I’ve never been over 25 pounds,” Benavidez said. “That’s why when Canelo said that, the most I’ve been up is 19 pounds. I’ve never been over 25 pounds. Even for this fight, I didn’t really deplete myself that much. I don’t think I’m gonna go up that much. Probably 12-13 pounds. But my main objective is not being bigger than Gvozdyk. My main objective and what I want to do is be fast, be powerful and keep that endurance throughout the whole 12 rounds, and that’s what I intend on doing.

“I’m going to knock him out, because I’m coming up in weight, I’m extremely strong. This is gonna be the best fight of my career to date, my best performance to date and I’m gonna shine this Saturday.”