David ‘El Bandera Roja’ Benavidez 22-0 (19) claimed the WBC super middleweight title with a classy ninth-round stoppage of Anthony ‘The Dog’ Dirrell 33-2-1 (24) at the Staples Center in Las Angeles, California on Saturday night.
The 22-year-old Benavidez of Phoenix, Arizona, had Dirrell cut over the right eye in the sixth round and continued the punishment until the corner of 34-year-old from Flint, Michigan stepped into stop the fight.
The official time of the stoppage was 1:39.
“This was one of the hardest fights I’ve had,” Benavidez said after the fight.
“It was very tactical. It wasn’t easy. I’ve got a lot of respect for Anthony Dirrell, especially the way he fought tonight.”
Dirrell started well, control the distance, range and pace of the fight with his clever counterpunching. But as the rounds progressed the heavy-handed Benavidez continued to press the action, breaking down the reigning champion with his power shots and smart punch selection.
By the fifth round Benavidez was in control, effectively cutting off the ring and walking Dirrell down.
In the sixth a punch opened up a nasty cut on Dirrell’s right eyelid that bled for the rest of the fight. Whatever fight Dirrell had left in him seemed to drain like the blood.
In the seventh and eighth frames Benavidez continued to pour on the pressure and midway through the ninth, with Dirrell absorbing more punishment, his corner stepped in to save him from further punishment.
“Much respect to the champion” Dirrell said. “He fought his ass off. He’s the true champion. In the whole lead up to the fight and with all the press, he was a champion.”
With the victory Benavidez becomes a two-time WBC champion after the same title was stripped from him in September 2018 after testing positive for cocaine, resulting in a four-month boxing suspension.
The fight was the main support bout to the IBF/WBC welterweight unification bout between Errol Spence and Shawn Porter.