Waiting for Canelo

By Robert Ecksel on November 15, 2021

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“Yo, that’s it! Can you give me one more round? It’s almost over.” (Photo: Stephanie Trapp)

Saturday night at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, former two-time super middleweight champion David Benavidez (25-0, 22 KOs) kept his unbeaten streak alive by stopping Kyrone Davis (16-3-1, 6 KOs), who took the fight on two weeks’ notice and fought his heart out, until his corner threw in the towel 48 seconds into round seven.

 

Benavidez had all the advantages going in. Youth, height, reach, power—he’s the real deal. He’s not a slick boxer, but moves well for a man his size. He lacks one-punch knockout power. But he lets his hands go and punches with bad intentions. Those assets, no less than the fact that Davis was fighting above his natural weight, in enemy territory no less, suggested the ending might be a foregone conclusion.

 

“El Bandera Roja” started stalking Davis at the opening bell. Working behind his jab, Benavidez landed to the midsection with occasional shots to the head. Davis retreated to the ropes many times, enabling Benavidez to do the most damage.

 

But Davis fought back. It’s a given that it took heart and guts to climb through the ropes to face someone like Benavidez on short notice. But it took skill to evade him, helped in large part by Benavidez’s inability to cut off the ring.

 

By round three both men had found their rhythm and a real fight ensued. Round four was fantastic, with Benavidez applying pressure and Davis giving a tutorial on fighting off the ropes.

 

Between rounds four and five, Davis’ trainer, Steven “Breadman” Edwards, told him, “He (Benavidez) just shot his load this round a little bit.” But the uppercuts Benavidez landed at the start of the fifth suggested otherwise. With his back against the ropes, Davis at times gave as good as he got. But he was outclassed and taking a beating.

 

“Breadman” sensed the fight was slipping away, but he epitomized calm.

 

“Listen to me,” he said to Davis. “Can you win this round for me? If you don’t give me a little bit more I’m going to stop the fight. I don’t want to see you hurt.”

 

Both men came out for the sixth cruising for bruising. It too was a great round, suitable for repeated viewing, and like the fourth, it was close.

 

Davis was exhausted. He’d eaten a lot of punches. The ropes were a comfort, but he was a sitting duck for left hooks and uppercuts. But he kept fighting back, and his trainer liked what he saw.

 

“Yo, that’s it!” he said. Look at me. Can you give me one more round, more time? It’s almost over. One more round.”

 

At the bell to start the seventh, Davis retreated to the ropes and Benavidez resumed the battering. Davis had never been stopped, but things were getting dicey, when the white towel flew into the ring to end the fight.

 

Assessing the stoppage, “Benavidez told Showtime’s Jim Gray, “That was a great performance on my end. A lot of courage by Kyrone. A lot of respect to him and his team. He’s a tough dude. We both left it all in the ring.”

 

Benavídez landed more than half of his power punches.

 

“I’m a little disappointed,” Davis said. “I wish I could have pulled out the victory. I don’t like losing. I came in on two weeks’ notice. I had to come in on short notice but I fought like a warrior. I’m living my dream. I love coming out here and putting on a great show. Fighting is in my blood. I was raised like this.”

 

Showtime’s talking heads repeatedly referenced a fight between Canelo and Benavidez. Network proxies for PBC who can read a teleprompter, they control the narrative, and in turn the spending habits of fight fans. Benavidez wants Canelo. He’s wanted Canelo for a long time. The feeling may not be mutual, but the narrative disguised as background noise shouldn’t be ignored.