David Benavidez will soon have the opportunity to become the youngest world titleholder in super middleweight division history.
Benavidez, 20, has been ordered to face former world titleholder Anthony Dirrell for a vacant 168-pound title, and the sides are in talks with the fight likely to take place this fall, assuming they make a deal, Benavidez promoter Sampson Lewkowicz told ESPN.
“The fight will be in late October or the beginning of November. I have no doubt he will be the youngest super middleweight champion in history,” Lewkowicz said, noting that despite rumors to the contrary, the fight will not take place on the undercard of the mandatory rematch between featherweight world titleholder Leo Santa Cruz and secondary titlist Abner Mares that is in the works for Oct. 7 in Los Angeles.
If Lewkowicz and TGB Promotions CEO Tom Brown, serving as Dirrell’s promoter for the bout, do not make a deal, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman told ESPN that a purse bid will be scheduled to take place on July 28. Since both fighters are with adviser Al Haymon, it is expected that Lewkowicz and Brown will reach an agreement.
The title shot for Benavidez (18-0, 17 KOs), of Phoenix, will come a little sooner than expected because Dirrell was initially supposed to face England’s Callum Smith for the vacant belt.
Dirrell (30-1-1, 24 KOs), 32, of Flint, Michigan, won a world title by unanimous decision in August 2014 in a rematch of a prior draw with Sakio Bika. But in his first defense, in April 2015, he lost the belt by majority decision to Badou Jack. But after Jack fought to a draw with James DeGale in a January title unification fight, he relinquished the belt to move up to the 175-pound light heavyweight division.
At that point, Dirrell was ordered to face Smith for the vacant belt. However, after issues making the fight, Smith elected to enter the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight tournament that begins in September, leaving Dirrell to face Benavidez, the next challenger in line for the title shot.
Benavidez, who impressively knocked out former world title challenger Rogelio “Porky” Medina in a title eliminator on May 20, will have a chance to shatter the division record for youngest world titleholder. The super middleweight division was created in 1984 and the record belongs to Darrin Van Horn, who was 22 years, 8 months, 11 days old when he knocked out Lindell Holmes in the 11th round to win the IBF version of the title on May 18, 1991.
Lewkowicz, one of boxing’s best talent evaluators — he helped fighters such as Manny Pacquiao and Sergio Martinez establish themselves in the United States, where they became pound-for-pound stars — has been high on Benavidez for years. He views him as his latest big-time discovery.
“As you know, I bring new blood to the sport, from Pacquiao to Martinez, and now to Benavidez,” Lewkowicz said.