PHOENIX — When heavyweight boxing icon Mike Tyson gives you the moniker “The Mexican Monster,” it could propel your career, or the pressure could cause you to fold.
Tyson lauded this compliment upon Benavidez for his relentless style inside the ring, and the hesitancy of potential opponents to get in the ring with him. Seemingly, all the top fighters were avoiding “the smoke.”
However, on March 25th, long-time nemesis Caleb Plant steps up to the plate, and their long-standing rivalry will headline a Showtime Pay Per View event. Benavidez aims to silence critics who feel Plant’s boxing IQ will be too high for the Phoenix native, while punishing Plant for words Benavidez deems disrespectful.
The two super middleweights will compete for Benavidez’s interim WBC title at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. The war of words has halted, and the two combatants are ready to battle. If the press conferences were a precursor to the action that will take place inside of the ring, boxing fans are in for a treat.
David Benavidez opens up to Zenger News about his disdain for Plant, why he feels his boxing abilities are underrated, and much more.
Zenger: David, how are you doing?
Benavidez: I’m doing good, brother. Thank you for taking this time out to do this interview with me, man.
Zenger: Always an honor. There is something about Caleb Plant that seems to make you uncomfortable. Every meeting has been a confrontation. Is it just the nature of competition in the same division, or is something else going on?
Benavidez: It’s 50/50. I didn’t like the guy when I first met him, knowing he was in my weight class, what type of person he was, and his attitude. It was clear throughout the press conference that Caleb Plant has nothing to say to me when I am in front of him, which is something I really dislike about him. It appears as though he is afraid because he doesn’t act aggressively. But as soon as he exits the stage, he conducts interviews and talks extensively. He has a history of frequently doing it. If you have anything negative to say about me, I want to see if you are prepared to treat me disrespectfully in person by looking me straight in the eyes. He is not like that. I can tell he is afraid when he acts in such a way since he can only be fearless in front of other cameras but not in front of me. I consider that to be a significant weakness. He says a lot of things that build upon one another; I say something about him, he says something about me, and it just keeps going back and forth.
I have said this to several people that I am not going to be satisfied until I put my hands on him. That time is getting really close. I have worked my ass off and have not left any stone unturned. I’ve worked extremely hard. The consensus is that Caleb Plant will outbox me. That he is athletic enough to defeat me. That’s fine; it just gives my tank extra fuel. I am highly motivated and ecstatic and interested in hearing the justifications from everyone else after I beat up Caleb Plant. On March 25, I’m eager to demonstrate my abilities.
Zenger: You always seem to fight with a certain level of violence, but for Plant, you keep using phrases like, “Hurt him,” and “Put him in the hospital.” Understandably, you want to win, but how important is it for you to make a statement in victory?
Benavidez: It’s going to happen, and the reason why I say I want to do him that way is because I would be disappointed in myself if I did not leave my mark on him. It’s not like I’m saying stuff that I can’t do. I have had 26 fights and 23 knockouts. There have only been two people that I did not stop in my whole career. Right now, I am building up my strength. I just turned 26 years old. I feel great. I am working with a fantastic strength and conditioning coach named Memo Heredia. I feel like my mind, body, and spirit are all in perfect harmony right now. I’m extremely happy. I’m thrilled not just for my fans but also for myself. It’s going to be a great night for Team Benavidez since my fans have been rooting for me and talking trash about me as well.
Zenger: During the press conference, you feel you found a psychological weakness in Plant, but you also had the opportunity to size him up. What are your thoughts after being face-to-face with him?
Benavidez: I have seen him for a long time; he’s actually a little bit smaller now because I have grown. I am bigger than him, but he’s a small person. At the end of the day, it is a fight. All that psychological warfare matters. It tells you something when you look at someone and call them a bitch, but they don’t do anything about it and won’t even look you in the eyes. It divulges a lot of information. Since not everyone is a world-class professional boxer like I am, I don’t expect everyone to grasp what I’m trying to say. I’ve been a professional for 10 years.
There have been so many times where I see the same people with the same type of attitude tell me that I’m not going to knock them out, or I hear somebody else saying that they are going to outbox me, and what do I do? I end up knocking everybody out and stopping everybody. This is no different. I am excited to make people eat their words, and I’m very excited to put a beating on Caleb Plant because my power and strength are at a different level. My speed is good too. I would say that I’m faster than Caleb Plant, and I throw better combinations than him. This is one of the biggest moments of my life right now. Not only does it motivate me that I have this fight, but it motivates me that I am doing all the stuff I said I was going to do when I was a child. I always told myself that I was going to fight on Pay Per View, and I told myself that I was going to win titles, so now that I’m at this level, I know sky is the limit. There are no limits. I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to. This is going to be a big fight, but I am going to overcome this in my fashion.
Zenger: Given that you have so many knockouts, but the assumption seems to be that Plant will outbox you and win by decision or by knockout. Do you believe that people frequently undervalue your boxing skills?
Benavidez: Yeah man! It’s definitely overshadowed, and it pisses me off. People think I just come forward throwing hooks. If you really watch my fights, I throw combinations that nobody throws. There’s a reason people don’t throw combinations the way I throw them, because they are hard to do. When you have a target in front of you, and you are worried about the comeback of somebody countering you, that’s why many people don’t throw those combinations. If Caleb Plant’s IQ was so high, and he was such a God of boxing, why doesn’t he have more knockouts? I understand he knocked out Anthony Dirrell, but he’s bragging about somebody I knocked out when I was 23 years old. What was Caleb Plant doing at 20 years old? What was he doing at 23? He barely became a champion at 26-27. I had been a champion already. I’ve been at this level already.
For people to tell me that I’m going to get out boxed, what happened to Dirrell? He couldn’t outbox me. By the fifth round, I caught his tempo, and I literally put a beating on him. And in that fight, I wasn’t as motivated as I am for this fight. I have been in there with the best of them, bro. I have been sparring world champions since I was 13 years old. I have been getting the better of all of those world champions too. People really haven’t seen the best of me. Caleb Plant is very vulnerable. He does good the first couple of rounds, but if you see in his fight against [Jose] Uzcategui, he was in trouble the second half of the fight. Canelo dropped him and knocked him out. Anthony Dirrell, they don’t give him credit, but he was touching him in that fight. Caleb Plant did knock him out in spectacular fashion, I take nothing away from him for that, but look at the rounds before. He was getting touched. Moreover, Anthony Dirrell lacks punching strength. I am aware of that. And I said that when I was 23. There are undoubtedly many weaknesses in his strategy. Because of his shoulder roll, people mistakenly believe he is a defensive God, but if you look at the statistics, I actually take more hits than he does. I’m looking forward to everyone’s mouths being shut. I believe this will be my best performance, and I’m looking forward to what comes next.
Zenger: You mentioned working your ass off. Have you done anything different or just cranked it up a notch?
Benavidez: I’ve turned it up a notch. What I realized from my last fight is, you look at all the great fighters, Andre Ward, Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins, the thing they did was, they just took a little bit of time off after the fight, and they just made boxing their life. What works for me is that I have a son who looks up to me and for him, I want to be a good role model. My life right now is 100% boxing and family. I take boxing very seriously now. My mentality is in a different place now. I love training, and I love working hard. I feel like all the mistakes I made in the past happened to me for a reason. They made me the person I am today, and I am going to take advantage of everything I have in front of me.
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