February 28, 2024

LAS VEGAS — Fight after fight, David Benavidez has asked, lobbied and downright demanded that boxing’s top star finally meet him in the ring.

With a brutal beatdown of Demetrius Andrade on Saturday at Mandalay Bay, Benavidez made his biggest statement yet that he wants — and deserves — to win the Canelo Alvarez sweepstakes.

Of course, it’s up to Alvarez. He calls the shots, and it’s he who will decide whom he fights on Cinco De Mayo weekend in 2024. But if Benavidez and Andrade were battling for a crack at the all-time great, Benavidez loudly grabbed the brass ring with both hands.

Andrade entered the bout undefeated as one of boxing’s most-avoided fighters, but he was no match for “The Mexican Monster,” who floored Andrade in the fourth round, bloodied him and stopped him when he didn’t come out for Round 7.

“For Canelo and everybody else, it just shows I’m not f—-ing around,” Benavidez said at the postfight news conference.

With each passing bout, Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs) has improved by leaps and bounds. In March, Benavidez took on his toughest test in Caleb Plant and after losing much of the first half of the fight, broke Plant down in the second half to earn a clear decision.

Against arguably a better fighter in Andrade, Benavidez lost the first two rounds on all three scorecards and then broke through with a brutal right hand that dropped Andrade in Round 4.

Benavidez, 26, cut off the ring and relentlessly pressured Andrade for the next two rounds, unloading shots with bad intentions that left Andrade, 35, spitting out blood.

Alvarez has repeatedly said that fighters must earn a shot at him. That’s fair. He’s the biggest star in boxing, after all. But if this performance wasn’t enough to entice Alvarez into a showdown with Benavidez, perhaps nothing will.

“I’ve been winning the fights I’m supposed to win in fantastic fashion,” Benavidez said. “[Alvarez] has nobody else to fight.”

Of course, Alvarez can always elect to fight Jermall Charlo, who ended a 29-month layoff in the chief-support bout with a unanimous decision over Benavidez’s older brother, Jose Benavidez Jr. Charlo was the original opponent for Alvarez in September, but Charlo withdrew to address personal issues. His twin brother Jermell Charlo took his place in that bout and was defeated. Alvarez can revisit the Jermall fight. Charlo admitted he was “rusty” in tonight’s fight. He also hasn’t scored a notable win in far longer than two-and-a-half years.

But it’s Benavidez who has the spotlight. He has grown into a star all his own.

He was passed over by promoters and even Top Rank, who signed Jose. But on Friday, there was a long line waiting to enter the weigh-in to see Benavidez prepare for Andrade, and a packed crowd waited on every power punch that inched their man ever closer to his dream fight with Alvarez.

“I always knew I was going to get to this moment…,” an emotional Benavidez said after headlining his second pay-per-view fight in Las Vegas. “I can’t let none of my people down. They support me so much that failure is not an option. And I feel like I’m in my prime now and I’m just going to keep getting better and better…

“I’m going to go up against anybody. Canelo is one option but if he doesn’t want to fight me then I want to beat everyone else. That’s the bottom line.”

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