Benavidez unanimously outpoints Gvozdyk for interim WBC light heavyweight belt

David Benavidez unanimously outpointed Oleksandr Gvozdyk on Saturday night to win the interim WBC light heavyweight belt

LAS VEGAS (AP) — David Benavidez made the most of his debut in the light heavyweight division, outpointing Oleksandr Gvozdyk on Saturday night to win the interim WBC championship belt.

“I went up in weight, won every single round and dominated a former world champion and an Olympian as well,” Benavidez said.

Well, not every round, as Don Trella scored the fight 119-109, Dave Moretti had it 117-111, and Zachary Young scored it 116-112.

That said, Benavidez (29-0, 24 KOs) controlled much of the fight, playing the role of aggressor while keeping Gvozdyk backpedaling and playing defense.

“I had him hurt a couple of times,” said Benavidez, who landed 42.8% of his punches. “I wasn’t throwing a lot of combinations because I reinjured my hand in the third round. I tore my right ligament four weeks before the fight and I hurt my left hand in camp. I’m proud of myself because I also got a cut three weeks ago and I pushed through and gave the fans a good fight.”

Benavidez — at 27, 10 years younger than Gvozdyk (20-2) — didn’t seem to be affected by moving up a weight class from super middleweight.

By the fourth round, Benavidez was bullying his way into Gvozdyk's space, while peppering the Ukranian with flurries of combinations. To his credit, Benavidez tactfully chose rounds to work the body, as Gvozdyk seemed to absorb a lot of the early punishment.

Nevertheless, the former super middleweight champion who said he came into the fight weighing 189 pounds never appeared intimidated.

Of the 349 power punches he threw, Benavidez landed 163 (46.7%), including 75 to the body. Gvozdyk connected on just 23.3% of his punches (163 of 699), and just 27.8% of his power punches (108 of 388).

“I obviously wish we got a different decision tonight,” Gvozdyk said. “I wish I had done a little more and been more active in the early rounds of the fight.

“I think the scores were pretty accurate. It was a good fight, a close fight. He was better in the first half of the fight, but I think I started doing better in the second half. I’d love a rematch with him.”

Benavidez closed -500 at BetMGM Sportsbook, which means a bettor would have to wager $500 to win $100.

Next up?

Benavidez showed his boxing skills while his combination punching translated well in the heavier class? A fight that makes the most sense, would be a huge payday for both, and that Benavidez has been in pursuit for, a showdown with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

“That’d be a big fight,” said Benavidez, who added he needs to take some time off for his hand to heal. “Now I’m at 175 these are some big boys, I’m looking forward to what’s next in the division. I still can make 168, I have a lot to prove.

“If I can go down to 168, there are big fights at 168. I want the opportunity ... if it’s Canelo or whoever, I want the opportunity to be a four-time world champion.”

During his post-fight press conderence, Benavidez had 3-year-old son Anthony stand on the dais and throw a bevy of combinations with fast hands, stealing the show and ending the 10-second display with whom he wants to see step in the ring to face his father next: “Canelo!”

“He's going to be world champion,” an emotional Benavidez quipped, with a proud smile and tears in his eyes.

The fight was the co-main event, Gervonta "Tank" Davis successfully defending his WBA lightweight championship belt against Frank Martin.

Both fights were two of four championship bouts highlighting the 100th championship fight night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The card drew 13,249 fans.

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