David Benavidez will be an excellent substitute for IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev if a knee injury prevents him from facing WBA champ Dmitry Bivol on October 12th in Riyadh.

Benavidez (29-0, 24 KOs) captured the WBC interim light heavyweight title in his debut at 175 last Saturday night, beating former champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk by a one-sided twelve-round unanimous decision in Las Vegas.

There’s the possibility that 39-year-old Beterbiev might not be ready to quickly return to the ring in October, given that he’s returning from a ruptured meniscus injury.

The Ideal Substitute

Given his age availability and ambition to become undisputed at 175, Benavidez would be the perfect replacement opponent to face Bivol (23-0, 12 KOs) on October 12th for his WBA belt.

It would be a fight that wouldn’t have all four belts at stake, but it would be an interesting one for the boxing public, allowing His Excellency to save the October 12th date.

Benavidez has talked about his sparring success with Bivol in the past, so he shouldn’t have any issues with stepping in to face him on October 12th unless his poor performance against Gvozdyk has caused him to change his mind about fighting for the belts at 175.

A Hasty Retreat 

After the fight last Saturday, Benavidez told the media that he planned on returning to the 168 to continue pursuing a fight against undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez.

Many people saw that as a signal that Benavidez recognized that he didn’t possess the power or technical prowess to compete at 175. So he slinked back down to 168, where he could enjoy a size advantage against the less talented fighters in that division.

“He fought Oleksandr Gvozdyk, a Ukrainian and a very good fighter. Obviously, it was Benavidez’s first fight at 175. Benavidez got the job done,” said web host Ade Oladipo to the talkSport Boxing YouTube channel, talking about David Benavidez’s debut at 175 last Saturday night on June 15th in Las Vegas.

“A couple of scorecards, I thought, were very wide. One was 119-109. It wasn’t that type of fight. Benavidez did say he’s not staying at 175. He’s coming back down to 168. He’s obviously chasing the Canelo fight, which it doesn’t look like he’s going to get any time soon.”

Ade is putting it lightly when he mentions the wide scores two of the judges turned in for last Saturday night’s Benavidez-Gvozdyk clash.

The scores the judges turned didn’t match the fight, which saw Benavidez gas out after six rounds and appear to lose the last six rounds. That should have made the fight a draw, but not with these judges.

“Would it not be a good idea to stay at 175? [IBF, WBC, & WBO light heavyweight champion Artur] Beterbiev is approaching 40. There’s a chance he might not make the Bivol fight because of that [knee] injury. Benavidez could slide straight in and fight Bivol, and we’d all be happy with that fight,” said Ade.

A Reluctant Substitute?

It would be a good idea to use Benavidez as a potential substitute to step in if Beterbiev’s knee fails him during camp, but does he have the confidence to take a fight with Bivol? I don’t think he does, and neither do many fans.

Benavidez’s retreat to 168 signals that he doesn’t feel he can win against Bivol or Beterbiev. I think he’ll still eventually take the fight against the winner, but only because of the gigantic payday he’ll get from the Saudis for fighting.

It’s doubtful that Benavidez will agree to step in and face Bivol at 175 for just one belt on the line at 168 instead of all four, and the payday not being as enormous. The fight would be like an eliminator for the big one against Beterbiev, but it takes courage on Benavidez’s part to agree to it.

Benavidez doesn’t appear to be confident that he’ll be victorious, and the fight will be in Saudi Arabia, not in Las Vegas like his match against Gvozdyk.

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