March 28, 1984, paved the way for a new era in boxing.
The first super middleweight sanctioned bout between Murray Sutherland and Ernie Singletary took place at the Harrah’s Marina Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Sutherland claimed the first title ever produced in the division, orchestrated by the International Boxing Federation (IBF), with a 15-round unanimous decision victory.
This historic event not only redefined the sport, but also created a playground for some of boxing’s greatest fighters in history. The super middleweight division — a weight class between middleweight and light heavyweight with a limit of 168 pounds — has graced us with legends like Joe Calzaghe, Roy Jones Jr., Andre Ward, Carl Froch and now Canelo Alvarez.
Some champions have been more dominant than others, but the evolution of the division has continued through the years. We’ve seen different styles, from the hand speed and power that Jones possessed and the articulate and surgical offensive and defensive prowess of Ward.
Now, in 2023, this division is awakened with a fearless warrior known as “The Mexican Monster,” a force unlike anything witnessed in the division’s history. Prepare to hear the name of David Benavidez through gyms worldwide, striking fear, for even the bravest fighters hesitate to speak his name.
The 12-round fight between Benavidez against Demetrius Andrade on Saturday will be an exciting showdown between two excellent fighters who want to prove they are the best in the ring and deserve a chance to fight the king of the division, Alvarez.
What does Benavidez do well?
Benavidez (27-0, 23 KOs), of Phoenix is a towering figure standing at an imposing 6-foot-2, with a wingspan stretching an impressive 74.5 inches. But it’s not just his physical stature that sets him apart; it is his raw strength and power, reminiscent of a cruiserweight, combined with his attitude thicker than a bulldozer.
Benavidez, 26, approaches each battle systematically and purposely, dismantling his opponents’ will to fight. His style is a fusion of finesse and force, showcasing his versatility as both a boxer-puncher and an aggressive brawler. With a rangy stance, Benavidez deploys a long, snappy jab, occasionally punctuating his attacks with sharp right hands and lead left hooks.
But don’t be deceived by his finesse, for within lies a slugger’s heart, ready to unleash a barrage of blazing fast combinations, uppercuts, short hooks and devastating body shots, draining the stamina and will of any opponent who dares to engage with him on the inside.
Benavidez seems to be gaining momentum and confidence with every fight, driven by a reckless hunger to seek and destroy all in his path.
What does Andrade do well?
Almost 2,700 miles away from Phoenix, tucked in Providence, Rhode Island, resides a remarkable, talented boxer and unique individual. The playful and humorous, but supremely skilled Andrade embodies the storylines of deprivation, hunger, humility and being unheard.
A natural right-hander, Andrade (32-0, 19 KOs) finds joy in adopting the southpaw stance, utilizing his lead hand to deliver precise jabs and authoritative right hooks. His boxing style resembles that of a chameleon, adapting effortlessly to any environment. Andrade’s ring presence is commanding, effortlessly outboxing opponents with the finesse of an Olympian, evading their attacks unscathed. His arsenal includes deceptive uppercuts and sweeping left hands, perfectly synchronized with his posturing and exceptional athleticism. He has cat-like awareness and sharp and evasive maneuvers while patrolling the ring.
Despite his achievements as a two-division world champion (junior middleweight and middleweight), Andrade has yet to receive the recognition and admiration he deserves, both from die-hard fans and the global boxing media. Andrade, a masterful southpaw boxer-puncher, honed his craft through years of dedication.
His illustrious amateur career, which includes a gold medal in the 2007 World Championships, set the stage for his professional journey, which, regrettably, hasn’t been as dazzling as some of his counterparts. Skeptics argue that he remains unproven, creating a prove-you-all-wrong opportunity to showcase his dynamic talent. Boxing is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately type of sport. At 35, “Boo-Boo” Andrade has yet to step into the ring with some preconceived formidable opponent — until now. This matchup will truly test his skills.
I can make a case for both men in winning this bout, but Benavidez should emerge victorious. He is a master of relentless sculpted pressure and has honed his style to perfection. He also has a remarkable ability to adapt and exploit his own weaknesses. Though his footwork might be considered a vulnerability, his ability to deliver powerful, blazing punches from any position far outweighs any apparent flaws. Employing a tight high guard as his primary defense, Benavidez possesses a defensive mechanism similar to the carnivorous plant, the Venus flytrap, where he can swiftly and accurately counter his opponent’s offense.
Benavidez’s physicality should not be underestimated, particularly when he closes the distance and maneuvers within close quarters. He employs head and body controls, altering his opposition posture and positioning. He can frame shots at Andrade’s vulnerable areas, attacking the body and strategically forcing Andrade onto his weaker left foot (back foot). Remember, Andrade is right-handed, so his dominant foot is his right, which is positioned upfront in the southpaw stance.
Hitting the body is a tactic well used by Benavidez in every fight. That will not change against Andrade, so this further tilts the scales in Benavidez’s favor. It becomes increasingly difficult for a boxer to evade the onslaught of a larger and more robust opponent, especially someone like Benavidez, who has fought his entire career at 168. This is Andrade’s second fight in the 168-pound weight class. His body is still maturing and adjusting to the added weight, moving up from 160 pounds.
As the match progresses, Andrade’s stamina will undoubtedly come into question. Benavidez’s pressure and outstanding conditioning tends to wear down opponents over time. And if Andrade fails to get enough offense during the early rounds, we will witness a shift in momentum, with Benavidez growing more powerful and dominant. Historically, Andrade has been susceptible to losing focus and experiencing a drop in his punch count as the fight enters the later stages, making him food for Benavidez’s relentless assault, and eventually a Benavidez victory.