Web host Teddy Atlas believes former two-time super middleweight champion David Benavidez showed that he has the talent to compete at light heavyweight after watching him defeat former 175-lb champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk on June 15th.

Atlas feels that Benavidez (29-0, 24 KOs) has the bad luck that the top two light heavyweights, Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev, are so great.

Those are two fights for ‘The Mexican Monster’ Benavidez, especially given his limitations in his game against an aging Gvozdyk. Atlas didn’t come right out and say that Benavidez can’t beat Bivol and Beterbiev, but it’s implied.

A Sea of Sharks

Benavidez’s high-volume offense, lack of power, and poor stamina would make him a prey fish for WBA light heavyweight champion Bivol and IBF/WBC/WBO champ Beterbiev, not only against them.

Benavidez would have massive problems against these sharks: Willy Hutchinson, Anthony Yarde, and Joshua Buatsi. Fortunately for Benavidez, he’s been sped to the top of the 175-lb division, leapfrogging those fighters to be given a chance for a money fight against the Bivol-Beterbiev winner of their October 12th fight.

In other words, the boxing business takes over, allowing Benavidez to move to the top of the food chain without needing to earn the opportunity.

Outmatched Against the Elite

“It’s not that he can’t go up to light heavyweight. His problem is who is there,” said web host Teddy Atlas on his YouTube channel, discussing whether David Benavidez can fit in at light heavyweight after moving up from 168 recently to defeat Gvozdyk on June 15th.

Benavidez (29-0, 24 KOs) moved up in weight to 175 to capture the WBC interim light heavyweight belt in an eliminator against an aging, past-his-prime Gvozdyk to put himself in position for a giant payday against the winner of the October 12th undisputed championship between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol.

“That might be the problem for Benavidez. It’s not that he can’t go up to light heavyweight,” said Atlas. “He showed me. You’re ready. Now you’re talking about going back down to super middleweight, so you have options.

More Than Just Bivol and Beterbiev

The WBC made it easy for the 27-year-old Benavidez by sanctioning a fight between him and the 37-year-old Gvozdyk, who had just recently come out of a four-year retirement, rather than ordering a tougher match against Joshua Buatsi, Willy Hutchinson or Anthony Yarde.

“You’re hoping still to get the Canelo fight maybe to get a big boatload of money, but you have no problem for me at light heavyweight proving what you proved the other night,” said Atlas about Benavidez talking about returning to 168 to continue his pursuit of a lucrative, life-changing payday against the superstar Canelo Alvarez, which has thus far been illusive to him. “Your problem is who is there [Beterbiev and Bivol].

It’s a mistake for Benavidez to return to super middleweight because he’s going to put his body through hell to move back down in weight, and he still likely won’t get a money fight that he’s returning to the division against Canelo.

If Benavidez fights anyone good at 168, like David Morrell, he’ll likely lose, permanently ruin his chances for a Canelo fight, or face the Bivol vs. Beterbiev winner.

Benavidez is viewed as a cruiserweight who melts down in weight to compete at 168, but he should stay at 175 if he wants to give himself a chance, as slight as it might be, to defeat Bivol or Beterbiev.

I don’t see Benavidez beating either of them, but he has a better chance of acclimatizing himself to the weight class by staying there and fighting someone talented like Morrell. He probably won’t because it’s too risky to face Morrell, and he’s shown no interest in fighting him.

“It’s not that you can’t handle the light heavyweight division or the change of weight,” said Atlas. “It’s the fact that two of the light heavyweights happen to be there, named Bivol and Beterbiev. That’s the problem. They’re not just ordinary light heavyweights. Other than that, he [Benavidez] showed me nothing that told me that he can’t make that move up.”

Overlooking the Bigger Picture

Benavidez will have problems against other light heavyweights, not just Bivol and Beterbiev. Atlas is short-sighted by failing to note the other talented fighters in the light heavyweight division who are young, dangerous, and better fighters than the guy that Benavidez just struggled to beat, Gvozdyk.

Perhaps the old trainer Atlas hasn’t been keeping up with who competes at 175 because if he did, he’d realize that four fighters would have an excellent chance of beating Benavidez and sending him packing. Those four are these guys:

  1. David Morrell
  2. Willy Hutchinson
  3. Anthony Yarde
  4. Joshua Buatsi

“He got what he needed. I know a lot of people wanted a knockout, but he got a realistic view of what he would need to do and continue to do and dealing with to continue fighting at light heavyweight,” said Atlas about David Benavidez.

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