David Benavidez is one step closer to a shot at Canelo Alvarez.
The former 168-pound champion handled Kyrone Davis in punishing fashion on Saturday in Phoenix with a seventh-round TKO victory in the Showtime main event.
Benavidez (24-0, 21 KOs) battered Davis, a late replacement, round after round. He pressed Davis on the ropes and unloaded with violent combinations, particularly from the fourth round on.
With the tough-yet-overmatched underdog unable to fend off Benavidez’s relentless pressure, trainer Stephen Edwards wisely threw in the towel 48 seconds into the seventh round.
“It was tough but I have so much condition, I’m going to keep going until he eventually stops,” said Benavidez, ESPN’s No. 2 super middleweight. “I think everybody wants to see me against Canelo. I’ll go through anybody; whoever they want me to go through.”
The 24-year-old was fighting in his birthplace for the first time since his 10th pro fight. Since then, he’s twice won a super middleweight title, and twice been stripped of the championship.
Benavidez first relinquished the title after testing positive for cocaine. The second time came last year after he missed weight.
“People are not eager to fight me, obviously, because I don’t have a belt,” Benavidez told ESPN earlier this week. ” … It’s been very, very hard for me but we’ll keep pushing. I’m going to be here for a long time. I’m going to keep calling for these big fights fans want to see and when they come, they come.”
Without a big fight scheduled, Benavidez was set to face former champion Jose Uzcategui. However, the Argentine was removed after he tested positive for the synthetic version of EPO, a performance-enhancing substance that aids endurance.
Davis (16-3-1, 6 KOs) accepted the fight on just two weeks’ notice. The volunteer firefighter from Wilmington, Delaware, fought Anthony Dirrell to a spirited draw in February, a performance that landed him on the short list to step in for Uzcategui.
He never stopped trying to upend Benavidez, absorbing the power shots along the ropes, but he also never threatened to land a punch of consequence. Benavidez was simply too big, too strong and too good.
Benavidez landed 181 punches, 47.4% of his attempts, to just 54 from Davis, per CompuBox.
With Davis out of the way, Benavidez will hope to land that high-stakes fight with Canelo, a bout he’s long sought.
“I feel like I have the best shot [to beat Alvarez] because I have the most power in the division besides Canelo,” Benavidez said. “I have longer arms, as much as speed — probably even faster — and as much power, too. I’m just hungry for this opportunity.”