At 20 years, nine months old, David Benavidez (19-0, 17 KOs) became boxing’s youngest world champion–and the youngest ever in the super middleweight division–with a split-decision victory over Ronald Gavril (18-2, 14 KOs) on Friday night on an exciting night of 168-pound action.
Benavidez and Gavril gave it all they had as the two fought for the recently vacated WBC Super Middleweight title on Showtime.
Benavidez placed the previously vacated WBC Super Middleweight belt around his waist after winning the title against former European amateur standout Gavril in what Benavidez later described as quite possibly the “Fight of the Year.”
“It feels amazing to win this title,” said the Phoenix resident Benavidez. “It’s everything I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid. It’s everything I’ve dedicated myself to and I’ve worked hard for. It finally paid off.”
The 31-year-old Romanian Gavril, who trains at Mayweather’s Gym in Las Vegas by Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, thought he should have gotten the decision.
“I feel I won the fight. I dominated the pace. I can’t say anything else other than it was up to the judges,” Gavril said, who was watched by his promoter all-time great Floyd Mayweather from ringside. “The only thing I can do is to ask for a rematch.”
Benavidez started quick, while Gavril took most of the middle rounds, but Benavidez closed strong–that is until the young Phoenix fighter got caught.
In Round 12, just when it looked like Benavidez might be on the verge of stopping Gavril, it was Benavidez who was caught and dropped.
— RoundByRoundBoxing (@RBRBoxing) September 9, 2017
Though Benavidez was not seriously hurt by the blow, it put an exclamation point on a tremendous fight where each man had his moments.
After the final bell sounded, both fighters celebrated what they felt was a well-deserved victory, but in the end the win and title went to Benavidez via split decision.
Scores were 116-111 Benavidez, 116-111 Gavril and 117-111 for Benavidez who is now the youngest current champion in boxing.
“I started off to see if I could knock him out I wanted to see how tough his chin was. I hurt him in the last four rounds and I was thinking I wanted to close this, but that can come to back to bite me in the ass. I got knocked down but I got back up and I could’ve gone 12 more rounds… I learned a lot. I learned I need to pace myself,” said Benavidez.