Benavidez to defend title at home vs. Angulo


Super middleweight world titlist David Benavidez will have a homecoming fight for his first title defense.

Benavidez will square off with Roamer Alexis Angulo on April 18 in the main event of a tripleheader on Showtime (10 p.m. ET) at the Arizona Federal Theatre in Phoenix, Premier Boxing Champions and TGB Promotions announced Monday.

The fight will be Benavidez’s first at home since a second-round knockout win in a preliminary bout in 2015.

“I’m very excited to be fighting Angulo on Showtime and in front of my hometown crowd,” Benavidez said. “I haven’t fought in Phoenix in five years. It’s exciting to be back. I expect Angulo to come in ready. I know he just pulled an upset in his last fight and he’s not taking any shortcuts, but neither am I. Angulo has never been stopped, so I want to be the first person to stop him. I feel like I’m more motivated with a hungry fighter like him in front of me, and you will see it in my performance.”

Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs), 23, was supposed to make a mandatory defense against Avni Yildirim, but with Yildirim being injured and unavailable, the WBC allowed Benavidez to make an optional defense against Angulo.

In September, Benavidez stopped Anthony Dirrell to regain the 168-pound title he had been stripped of for testing positive for cocaine in a random drug test. Benavidez was suspended and sat out for 13 months before returning with a second-round knockout of J’Leon Love last March, and then defeated Dirrell, who had claimed the vacant title by 10th-round technical decision against Yildirim during Benavidez’s sabbatical.

In 2017, Benavidez became the youngest super middleweight world titlist in boxing history by defeating Ronald Gavril by decision to claim a vacant title at age 20.

“From the start of his career, long before he became champion, people have been asking me about Davíd fighting at home,” said Sampson Lewkowicz of Sampson Boxing, who promotes Benavidez. “Now is the perfect time and I’m very happy to help bring this show to David’s hometown.”

Angulo (26-1, 22 KOs), 35, a Colombia native fighting out of Miami, is coming off an upset 10-round split decision win over then-undefeated Anthony Sims Jr. on Jan. 30. Angulo’s only loss came by decision to then-super middleweight world titlist Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez in 2018.

“I’m very motivated by this great opportunity to fight for the world title again,” Angulo said. “Benavidez is a talented world champion who is clearly one of the best super middleweights in the world. This is going to be a great fight for the fans because of the style I bring to the ring. My Mexican style of fighting will be too much for Benavidez and I will have my hand raised on April 18.”

Also on the card:

• Lightweight Michel Rivera (18-0, 12 KOs), 21, a Dominican Republic native fighting out of Miami, will face Marcos Villasana Jr. (25-6, 14 KOs), 28, of Mexico, in a world title elimination bout in the co-feature. Villasana, who has won 10 fights in a row since 2015, is the son of early 1990s featherweight world titlist Marcos Villasana Sr. The winner will be in position to challenge the winner of the vacant world title bout between Luke Campbell and Javier Fortuna, who are due to meet April 17.

• In the opener, junior welterweight Alberto Puello (17-0, 9 KOs), 25, of the Dominican Republic, will defend his interim belt for the first time against former two-division world titlist Rances Barthelemy (27-1-1, 14 KOs), 33, a Cuban defector fighting out of Las Vegas.

Puello claimed the vacant 140-pound interim belt by unanimous decision over Jonathan Alonso last July. Barthelemy, who has won belts at junior lightweight and lightweight, is moving back up to junior welterweight after fighting former titlist Robert Easter Jr. to a draw in an April 2019 vacant lightweight title bout.

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