Important victories were achieved by David Benavidez, Jose Ramirez and Seniesa Estrada. What’s next for them?
Interim super middleweight champion David Benavidez showed why he’s one of the top two fighters in the division (after champion Canelo Alvarez). Demolition of the Caleb Plant by unanimous vote Saturday night in Las Vegas. Benavidez punished Plant with scorecards of 115-113, 116-112, and 117-111 in the final six rounds to victory. All three judges gave Plant in every round from sixth through twelfth.
After the fight, Benavidez called out Alvarez and said he has “a lot of respect for Canelo Alvarez but he has to give me this chance now. Everyone wants to see that. make it happen
“I don’t think Canelo is trying to avoid me. I just feel like he has a lot of options. But now the fans are calling for this fight, the legends are calling for this fight, so let’s make it happen.”
Alvarez fights John Ryder in May and expects to face Dmitry Bivol in a rematch in September. So what should Benavidez’ next fight be if he doesn’t get Alvarez? And can he beat Alvarez if/when they fight?
Also on Saturday, Jose Ramirez had a tougher than expected time against Richard Commey in the main event of a Top Rank card in Fresno, California. Quiet, He finished the former lightweight champion to once again become a top contender in junior welterweight, a division where he was a unified champion two years ago.
Ramirez defeated Commey by KO in the 11th round and his next fight could be for a world title at 140lbs. He had a chance to fight WBC champion Regis Prograis last year, but Ramirez missed the opportunity after the purse split was 65-35 in Prograis’ favour. Will he/should he fight Prograis next?
“I want every world champion,” Ramirez said after the fight. “If Regis Prograis is serious about the fight, we can sit down and negotiate. Let’s get together and fight the battle.”
In the co-main event, Seniesa Estrada looked dominant a one-sided victory over Tina Rupprecht merging two world strawweight titles, a first step toward her ultimate goal of being an undisputed three-division champion when her career is over.
“I want to tell the other champion at 105 pounds I’m going to yell at you next,” Estrada said during her post-fight interview. “You can get it next. I’m the best in this division and I know it. I want to prove it by going undisputed.
“Once I’m undisputed, I want to move up to light flyweight and become undisputed there. And then I want to move up to another weight class and be undisputed there. My goal is to go undisputed in three different divisions.”
Can Estrada achieve this? With her style and power, it seems like a realistic expectation if she can get the other champions in the ring.
Mike Coppinger and Michael Rothstein share their thoughts on all three fights.
Benavidez wants Canelo but will he get him?
Benavidez picked up a career-best win with the decision over Plant, and he did it impressively, even if he didn’t score the stoppage he had hoped for.
The 26-year-old showed his punching variety, 12-round engine and ability to carve off (a huge) ring against a top-flight boxer who likes to stick and move and can do it with the best of them.
Now, Benavidez is calling for a shot at Canelo Alvarez, and it could be the biggest matchup for boxing’s top star. First, the Mexican boxer meets John Ryder on May 6th. But what about after that? Well, Canelo could face Dmitry Bivol in a rematch in September. If he does, Benavidez will be looking for another opponent.
WBA President Gilberto Mendoza suggested on Twitter a fight between Benavidez and Cuba’s David Morrell to determine a mandatory challenger for Alvarez. Benavidez and Morrell are undefeated offensively gifted fighters and both box for PBC so the matchup should be relatively easy to make.
But if Benavidez Alvarez lands – and if it doesn’t come off this year, it should next year – can he pull off the excitement? Alvarez belongs to a small group of boxers who can fight forwards and backwards. He’s seen every style by this point, from the masterful boxing of Floyd Mayweather to the aggressive pushing style of Gennady Golovkin.
Benavidez is fighting a lot more like Golovkin, who marginalized Alvarez in his first two encounters. Only Benavidez is not quite as good as GGG. But sharing 12 rounds with a Plant-caliber fighter should only make Benavidez all the better.
It’s a convincing clash for Alvarez and the former pound-for-pound king would still be a huge favourite. Benavidez isn’t hard to find in the ring, and Alvarez is one of the best counterattacks in the sport.
No matter who Benavidez fights next, “The Mexican Monster” left no doubt that he had to be seen on TV.
Ramirez wants a title shot, but should he fight another fight first?
After becoming only the second fighter to stop Richard Commey – Teofimo Lopez Jr was the other to do so – Jose Ramirez made it clear what he wanted next: another shot at a 140lb title.
Ramirez formerly held the WBC and WBO junior welterweight belts but lost them to Josh Taylor in May 2021. He has fought twice since then, defeating Jose Pedraza in March 2022 and Commey on Saturday.
The obvious option for him would be a belt fight.
“Every world champion,” Ramirez said during his in-ring interview after the fight. “Regis Prograis, [or] the winner of josh taylor and teofimo get this rematch [with Taylor].”
I’m not writing this lightly because I believe fighters should make and take the best fights. Sport needs that. But after seeing Ramirez’ performance on Saturday, it might be fitting for him to have one more fight before taking on Prograis, Lopez or a rematch with Taylor. There’s no doubt that Ramirez is one of the best in the division. He’s proven that many times in his career, losing only to Taylor.
But if Ramirez wants to be as active as he says – he has stated he wants to fight two to three times in 2023 – then he shouldn’t be fighting for the title next. He should put in a solid performance and then face Prograis or the Taylor Lopez winner.
Commey is always a tough fighter. He is a former world champion, albeit at lightweight. At some points Commey seemed to be in a good position against Ramirez. Commey was a good challenge for Ramirez but I’d like to see a more convincing performance from Ramirez first. -Michael Rothstein
Estrada’s plan is doable
Seniesa Estrada has already been world champion in two divisions. On Saturday night, after becoming the unified strawweight champion (WBA and WBC), Estrada laid out a larger plan: to become the undisputed champion in three divisions.
It’s not uncommon on the women’s side of the sport – Claressa Shields was undisputed in her junior middleweight and middleweight careers – so that Estrada is laying out a plan for her to do that in the lower weight divisions of the sport is very feasible.
Next up, theoretically, should be an undisputed strawweight bout against Yokasta Valle, who defeated Jessica Basulto by unanimous decision in Costa Rica on Saturday to retain her IBF and WBO belts. Estrada was already a WBO junior flyweight champion, so she’s shown she can be a key player in this division – and there are already two combined champions there in Jessica Nery Plata (WBA, WBC) and Evelin Bermudez (IBF, WBO ).
At flyweight, Estrada has already defeated one of the champions there, Marlen Esparza, and while it’s a sprawling division, it’s manageable.
“Once I’m uncontested, I want to move up to light flyweight and be uncontested there,” Estrada said in the post-fight in-ring interview on ESPN. “And then I want to move up to another weight class and become undisputed there. My goal is to become undisputed in three different divisions.”
One reason it would make sense and is a reasonable goal for Estrada is both her style and her power, which should carry over to the top. Few if any fighters, male or female, fight with the same stance-shifting, hand-waving style as Estrada, so it’s hard to prepare for her.
Estrada is one of the best fighters in the world. She’s No. 8 on ESPN’s pound-for-pound list, and if she can pull off that plan, she’d end up in the same conversation with Shields, Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano as one of the sport’s top fighters, both now and in the history. -Michael Rothstein