February 28, 2024

LAS VEGAS — David Benavidez, with each punishing left and right hand, left no doubt: He has earned a shot at Canelo Alvarez.

In another thrilling performance for the undefeated fighter, Benavidez defeated Demetrius Andrade when Andrade’s corner stopped the super middleweight bout following the sixth round Saturday night at Mandalay Bay.

Immediately after, Benavidez was warmly greeted by boxing legend Mike Tyson.

“I just told Mike Tyson that I love him and thank you so much for the motivation he’s given me,” said Benavidez, ESPN’s No. 2 boxer at 168 pounds. “It’s not everyday a boxing legend like Mike Tyson gives people nicknames, so I just want to live up to my name.”

It’s Tyson who bestowed Benavidez with the moniker “The Mexican Monster,” and Benavidez more than lived up to it Saturday night.

Andrade, a former two-division champion, was boxing well until Benavidez floored him in the closing seconds of Round 4 with a right-handed haymaker.

Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs) poured on the punishment the following round as he looked to finish off Andrade, but he hung tough. Instead of trying to clinch, Andrade tried to fight his way out of the trouble.

Andrade (32-1, 19 KOs) was able to land some effective combinations in Round 6. He snapped Benavidez’s head back with an uppercut, but moments later, Andrade was the one spitting out blood. Soon after the bell rang to end the round, the fight was over, too.

“I think the first shot I caught him with was when I dipped his left hand and came back with a right hand, and that made a point,” said Benavidez, 26, who fights out of Seattle. “And I knew I had to keep putting the pressure on him because he wasn’t going to keep taking those shots.

“Everybody says I’m not this, I’m not that, I’m flat-footed, I have no defense. This guy probably applied one of the best defenses. He’s really good offensively. He could barely even hit me, so I think that says a lot on its own.”

“For Canelo and everybody else, it just shows I’m not f—ing around.”

Undoubtedly, that’s the biggest matchup out there for boxing’s top star. Benavidez wanted a statement to create more demand for a fight with Alvarez, and he more than accomplished that against one of boxing’s most avoided fighters.

Andrade, 35, who won his first title at 154 pounds, attempted to bully the bigger man early on and found success. He rehydrated to 190 pounds, according to Victor Conte, who oversaw his training and nutrition program.

And when Andrade muscled Benavidez into the ropes, it was effective. He connected on right hands to the body and was able to stymie Benavidez from rolling downhill. Andrade even won the first two rounds on all three scorecards. But by the end of Round 3, Benavidez began to find his footing.

After he floored Andrade late in the fourth round, he stunned his foe again with a powerful left hook. Benavidez unloaded with combinations as he stalked his opponent, but Andrade showed serious grit by standing in the pocket and trading.

“I thought, overall, I did everything I needed to do to get the bigger man off me,” said Andrade, who made his 168-pound debut in January and somehow had never faced a current or former champion before Saturday. “David’s definitely a hell of a fighter. Nobody was even willing to get in the ring with him.”

Andrade added: “I have to go back to the drawing board and work on my body a little more. Then, I’ll be right back at it.”

Benavidez, on the other hand, is just getting started. Coming off a career-best performance in March with a pain-inflicting unanimous-decision win over Caleb Plant, Benavidez topped that effort with this six-round beating of Andrade.

He’s on the short list for fighter of the year honors, but Benavidez has far loftier goals.

Already, he’s a two-time champion, belts he never lost inside the ring. First, he was stripped of his title for a positive cocaine test and then again for missing weight.

But that’s in the past. He’s hitting his stride now in the prime of his career, and his star is growing brighter with each effort.

Now, Benavidez needs the only matchup that matters in order for him to realize his dreams, and that’s a crack at an all-time great in Alvarez, by far the sport’s No. 1 attraction.

“I’m going to be the greatest of my generation by the time I’m done here,” Benavidez said. “I love getting hit and I love hitting back. … Welcome to the David Benavidez era.”

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