Teddy Atlas: ‘David Benavidez Was Too Much Of A Gentleman’

David Benavidez's light heavyweight debut was successful against Oleksandr Gvozdyk on Saturday night, but it also raised further questions about his performance, particularly in the second half of the fight when he appeared to tire.

On ProBox TV’s post-fight show, both Paulie Malignaggi and Teddy Atlas shared their opinions on the bout, offering different perspectives.

Atlas, who used to train Gvozdyk (20-2, 16 KOs), 37, picked him to win. He pointed to the power and youth of Benavidez (29-0, 24 KOs), 27, as the decisive factors but was not impressed with his demeanor in the latter half of the fight.

“The reason I picked him was he wasn’t used up,” said Atlas. “The difference in the fight was one guy was kind of like playing with paintballs and you hit a guy with a paintball and it splashes on their shirt, and the other guy was using real live ammo. Benavidez was punching through. Benavidez looked good the first seven or eight rounds or whatever it was.”

Atlas added, “Benavidez had never been in with a guy bigger than him. He was being too much of a gentleman. Touching gloves, like now we will just finish up. I have got the fight now we are just going to finish up. That showed that he let up off the gas.”

Malignaggi rated Gvozdyk highly, noting that Benavidez’s announcement that he would move back to super middleweight after the fight should contextualize the win as quite a feat. Given Benavidez’s last two fights against Gvozdyk and Demetrius Andrade, both perceived as avoided fighters, this victory is significant.

“I will add this that Gvozdyk is a guy who even in the Beterbiev fight was winning when he got stopped,” said Malignaggi. “Yes, he is a little older, but he is very difficult to win rounds against. Benavidez dominated the early rounds.”

Later in the fight, Malignaggi noted a change, comparing it to something he had seen frequently.

“It ended up looking like a sparring session,” said Malignaggi. “He took a big lead, and then he sat back, and let the other guy work, or maybe we won’t say let the other guy work, he got tired and the other guy was able to work.”

Despite the criticisms, Malignaggi emphasized that Benavidez’s performance should not be undervalued.

“Benavidez is going to get criticized because you are not going to look like Superman every time,” said Malignaggi. “He looked pretty good. If you take away the expectation that he is going to blow you away every single time, this is still a solid win against a good fighter.”

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