SecondsOut Awards: Breakout Fighter of the Year: David Benavidez

By Ron Valderrama/



The team at have selected WBC super middleweight champion, David. “El Bandera Roja” Benavidez as Breakout Fighter of the Year. The breakout fighter of the year category for 2017 was loaded with boxing talent, Jeff Horn, Gervonta Davis and Dmitry Bivol, to name a few.


Benavidez, perhaps, was a boxing prodigy well before he even turned pro. The younger brother of Jose Benavidez Jr., he is no stranger in the sport and has been around boxing for most of his life. Both David and Jose Jr. are trained by their father, Jose Benavidez Sr.


At a young age, Benavidez not only started boxing but began analyzing the styles of many world champion fighters his brother would spar with. The list includes names like Manny Pacquiao, Tim Bradley, Amir Khan and more. David too, would climb in the ring with some big names as well and spar, gaining experience in what would later serve him well when he turned pro.


His father once told me that David would watch fights and break-down the styles and would analyze their strengths and weaknesses. When most kids were out riding a bike, David would be at the gym or be watching fights on YouTube. I have known David and his family for many years, have watched him spar and knew someday this kid would be a beast in the ring. From time-to-time, I would run into David at a fight or an event and ask him about his take on upcoming fights. His analysis was always on point, it’s these habits that have made him the youngest super middleweight champion in the history of boxing at age 20. The dream would become reality when he defeated Ronald Gavril in an absolute war last year in Vegas, capturing the WBC title.


The fight with Gavril would be a true test for Benavidez and his toughest opponent to date. The bout was action-packed from the first bell, the skill of Gavril made this an exciting fight to watch. Gavril moved forward the entire fight and made it a good fight, but Gavril was also punished repeatedly with the quickness and heavy-handed punches thrown by Benavidez. In the final round, Gavril spotted an opening on Benavidez and landed a punch when he was off balance, dropping him for a count. Benavidez beat the count and won the fight as he was clearly ahead on the scorecards. spoke with David Benavidez about the Gavril fight and his thoughts on the upcoming rematch in February.


SO: Congratulations on the win over Gavril and Breakout Fighter of the Year on

Benavidez: Thank you, it’s a great honor.


SO: You are the youngest middleweight champion at 20, how does it feel to accomplish something like that?

Benavidez: It’s exciting and a humbling experience, Gavril was a tough fight. I’m 21 now and thankful to have a great team and Sampson Boxing as a promoter.


SO: In the final round, Gravil lands a shot and dropped you, which you clearly recovered. What are your thoughts about it?

Benavidez: I was winning the fight, was careless and left myself open and he caught me off-balance. The punch didn’t hurt or cause any damage.


SO: I like the fact you were knocked down, your actions and how you handled it proved you have a good chin and immediately got up and finished strong. What are your thoughts on the rematch?

Benavidez: I’m excited about the rematch and defending the title against Gavril. I have been training for about a month and I will be ready.


SO: Thank you David, and again, congratulations becoming a champion and’s choice for Fighter of the Year, good luck, and Merry Christmas.

Benavidez: Thank you, I am honored to be chosen and Merry Christmas.


David Benavidez recently resigned with Sampson Boxing, and Sampson has proven experience promoting champions and will surely do the same with David.