David Benavidez is a fighter many have enjoyed watching as a prospect and contender coming through the ranks due to his aggressive style.
After winning a world title at the young age of 22, for the WBC super-middleweight title, big things were expected of Benavidez. But issues outside the ring and his potential lack of discipline with weight have seen him stripped twice of the title.
Despite these past mistakes, Benavidez is still a fighter many fight fans believe can continue to do damage against the very top stars in the division.
In this boxing style analysis blog, I’m going to take a closer look at what makes Benavidez such a dangerous opponent for anyone from 168-175 lbs.
You can watch my video version or continue reading below:
First up let’s take a quick look at his background. Benavidez was born into a boxing family in Phoenix, Arizona, and first put on a pair of boxing gloves at the age of three.
He also has an older brother Jose who has also had a fairly successful career to date. Even facing p4p star Terence Crawford at one point.
David didn’t have that much amateur experience with a record of 15-0. But David took the brave decision of turning pro instead at the young age of 16. Fighting in Mexico for his first 7 professional fights due to US boxing regulations.
Becoming a world champion
After making a steady rise and building up much-needed experience. David Benavidez would get his shot for the WBC super-middleweight title against Gavril (above), a 6-foot Romanian with a tough pressure-fighting stalking style.
He won in a close split decision becoming the youngest world champion in boxing at the time at 22 years old. After winning this bout, he would once again face the Romanian, putting on a much more polished display winning by unanimous decision.
However, it wasn’t too long after this that he would be stripped of his title for testing positive for an illegal drug. But he did come back again to face Andre Dirrell in a convincing display to show why he deserved to be the champion.
Unfortunately, Benavidez lost his title due to missing weight which is a concern. I hope this ill-discipline outside the ring doesn’t end up haunting him again in the future. Maybe a move up to 175lbs sooner rather than later might be a smarter option long term.
But now let’s go into detail regarding his style and fighting attributes.
What is David Benavidez’s Boxing Style?
Now from watching Benavidez fight, it’s clear overall he has an aggressive swarmer-like style. But that’s not to say he doesn’t have other attributes. The man from Phoenix also has good counterpunching and quick combination punching, especially considering his size.
However, his larger frame and bullish power are something he relies on a lot to get an advantage over many of his opponents. But he does a very good job of giving his opponents a false sense of comfort which I will touch on later.
Nevertheless, there are many areas I feel he still needs to improve before taking on someone like Canelo and having a chance. But let’s start with the positives he brings to the ring first.
Stance and Defensive Guard
Now the first thing you will probably notice about Benavidez is his tall upright stance. Which I admit can be quite rigid at times! But he is actually quite versatile with his stance and guard.
He gets away with this for the most part thanks to his textbook high guard. He keeps it relatively high when at mid to close range which helps protect his temple and chin. While making sure his fists are pointing forward instead of completely parallel. (See in video below)
This makes it particularly hard for the opponents to break past it with straight shots or even hooks.
Pros and Cons of the guard
Another useful aspect of the guard is the fact he can defend his body shot by tucking his chin and dipping his arms in. Or even just taking a small half-step back to reduce the impact.
Like with everything, there are cons to using the high guard to block shots depending on where they are in the ring and when you use it. It also actively can encourage your opponent to go on the offensive. But the good thing for David is that he is versatile with his guard.
Benavidez will also make good use of the guard not just from blocking, but his very good use of parrying and catching shots.
This is where I have seen Benavidez do some good work in terms of lowering his guard, so he can get off his offense, in particular his spear jab from a slightly lower position which he will throw to keep his opponents moving back.
Or he will even sometimes use a shell stance, for defense and offense to give himself a different look or even get an opening on his competitor!
His change of stance and guard is an area that keeps his opponent thinking about what will come next. See his stance and guard in action below:
Aggressive Counter Punching
Now being a big super-middleweight like Benavidez, you would think he would try to use his reach to his advantage all the time.
Instead, he very much takes advantage of using his high guard as a way to draw in some opponents to attack him. Many of his competitors will throw unnecessary shots, that only hit gloves or arms and don’t really hit him cleanly at all.
This is where we will see Benavidez wait for his opponent to throw a punch before he pitches back quick and powerful catch counters that aim to do damage!
Once hurt, Benavidez likes to turn up the pressure!
Benavidez, in my opinion, is most comfortable when he is on the front foot applying pressure. But he likes to take his time with this and you almost get a sense that he is just waiting for the inevitable to happen.
His higher guard certainly helps to draw in opponents and it also helps him able to get into a position to fight on the inside.
But for Arizonan, he takes advantage of his larger frame and power. Usually by walking down opponents that are hurt or like to box on the back foot by trapping them in the corner or ropes.
From here Benavidez is best sitting down on his shots throwing his famous quick combinations.
The other aspect I like about Benavidez when applying pressure is his powerful strong spear jab from a lower guard. He uses this help to push back opponents.
He will also mix it by throwing a lead right hand before quickly shifting with his left hook. The transfer weight from the right hand naturally creates a force for the hook. It can therefore be a very lethal punch setup.
See Benavidez applying pressure below:
Combination punching and flurries
As just touched on, when Benavidez has you hurt or trapped on the ropes. This is where he will usually sit on his shots and throw those explosive quick combination flurries. Which have taken out many opponents.
It helps that he is very powerful, but he is also very quick when throwing these punches.
The variation of his combinations is also very good, as he tends to throw lots of angled hooks and uppercuts. While also attacking the body to open up the guard further for headshots. See David put some brilliant combinations together below:
Inside Fighting / forearm control
Now that other area I wanted to touch on was Benavidez’s inside game. Usually, when up close, he will often tower over his opponent. So when in the trenches he will very much look to use forearm control.
Obviously holding is illegal, and I do believe refs have let him get away with it on occasions. But overall he tries to be quick and efficient when doing this as it helps him set up powerful hooks or right hand. While also helping to continue trapping them on the ropes. See this in action below:
Areas to improve
Benavidez is still very much a fighter that is continuing to improve. But it’s essential that he doesn’t get stuck on his current ways or I could see him losing to elite-level Super Middleweights and light heavyweights.
His upper body and head movement haven’t necessarily been the best for Benavidez to date. This is obviously due to his high guard defense and use of catching and parrying punches.
Nevertheless, I do worry when I see him come up against a top-body puncher or 175-pounder. I think he won’t be able to stand his ground and take those punches.
For me more head movement is needed in my opinion, His strength and size at the moment are helping him, but there have been too many glimpses of him taking unnecessary shots.
Another area is being capable of boxing on the back foot. It’s evidently clear this is not part of his game plan right now. As I have discussed it’s more about drawing in opponents with his guard so he can counter them. Then push them back onto ropes or corners so he can set up his shots.
He does take occasionally backward steps. However, as time goes on, and faces top-grade pressure fighters such as Canelo or a fighter just as big as him. I feel more holes will start to open up. He still gets hit and gets caught up in unnecessary firefights at times.
Right now he is getting away with it due to his size and power against lesser opponents. But if we don’t see more diversification against top opponents with his movement backward, he might end up with a disappointing result.
Overall I can understand why people enjoy watching David Benavidez, as he simply comes to fight!
He certainly has one of the most exciting styles you can ask for. And it’s no wonder people are calling him out to face Canelo.
Personally, I think he can make the improvement required to dominate in the years to come and I’m excited to see how he develops.
You can also check out my breakdown of past and potential future opponents below:
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