Undefeated rising contender David “El Bandera Roja” Benavidez (16-0, 15 KOs) knocked out Denis Douglin (20-5, 13 KOs) in the 10-round main event of Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN and ESPN Deportes from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia.
Douglin, who is trained by his mother Saphya, opened the fight very aggressive, stealing the first round on all three judges’ scorecards. Douglin continued to press the action, also winning the second round battle with two of the three judges, but Benavidez would soon settle in and take control of the war.
“I knew it was going to be a tough fight. I knew Douglin wasn’t going to go out without a fight,” said Benavidez. “So I came in here and started slower than I usually do, just using my jab a little bit more.”
The 19-year-old Benavidez made the necessary corrections in round three and never looked back, chipping away throughout the fourth and fifth rounds. In the sixth, Benavidez teed off on Douglin with damaging punches to both Douglin’s body and head.
In the seventh round, Benavidez was still having his way when one of the top turnbuckles gave out, causing the ropes on one side of the ring to collapse, and stopping the fight momentarily. When the action resumed, Douglin came forward with a flurry, but that burst of energy was short-lived.
Benavidez regained control in the eighth round, and in the ninth he scored the only knockdown of the fight. In the tenth and final frame, Benavidez threw a barrage of punches, several of which buckled Douglin, causing referee Gary Rosato to intervene and stop the fight at :35 into the round.
When asked about Douglin’s resilience, Benavidez said, “I hurt him a lot of times, but I kept my cool. I knew I was going to get him out of there sooner or later and that’s exactly what I did tonight. This is a good victory for me. Douglin is a tough veteran. He started fast and swinging wildly, and his offense probably looked better on-camera than it was, but he did what he had to do to survive until the final round.”
Benavidez continued, “It was important to me to get the stoppage and show everybody that I am just as strong in the late rounds as I am early on. I love this. This is what I signed up for. I want tough fights.”
A disappointed Douglin said, “I was in this fight, I just got winded. I was in great shape and everything, but I got winded there towards the end. Benavidez is a tough, young fighter. He was able to make me stay in there longer than I wanted to, but I feel good and I’ll be back.”
Benavidez concluded, “Right now, I would like to say that I don’t think about who’s next. I’m just trying to progress in my career and I’m not trying to call anybody out. But if I do dream about fighting anybody, it would be whoever is the champion at my weight. I’m going to work hard to get to that spot.”
Televised coverage began with exciting undefeated contender Alejandro “El Charro” Luna (21-0, 15 KOs) defeating Philadelphia prospect Naim Nelson (13-2, 1 KO) by unanimous decision (99-91, 98-92, 97-93) in a ten-round bout fought at a catch weight of 144 lbs.
Nelson, who stepped up to face Luna on only 24-hours notice, tried to bring the fight to Luna in the early rounds and make it a physical contest on the inside.
Despite Luna landing a couple of blistering uppercuts in the second and third rounds, Nelson still came forward. Luna later said, “Nelson was a tough guy and could bang a little bit.”
By the close of the third round, Luna’s left eye appeared to be swelling badly, but luckily for Luna Nelson’s gas tank appeared to drain just in time. Although Nelson was all aggression and wanted to fight in a phone booth early on, he found himself landing fewer punches and looking to create distance in the middle rounds.
Luna soon took over the action, and in the seventh round a cut opened on Nelson’s forward, but was quickly controlled by his corner. Nevertheless, Luna had done enough damage in the middle stages of the scrap and was able coast to a unanimous victory on the scorecards.
“Obviously we prepared for another opponent, but I felt I had a solid performance against him,” said Luna. “Nelson came to fight and was in shape, and I thought I handled him pretty well, but I know I can still do better.”
When asked about taking the fight on short notice Nelson said, “I make no excuses, but we took this fight at 9 p.m. last night and I knew I was stepping up to face a tough opponent. I didn’t get the decision, but I felt good in there tonight, and I proved I can compete with a world class fighter.
Nelson added, “Luna is a good puncher and he’s strong. I won’t take anything away from him. We fought a hell of a fight, and I look forward to being back soon.”
Luna summed up the night adding, “I’m looking to build on what I did here tonight and get back in the ring soon for another good fight.”