The future of the super middleweight division regained his throne.

One year after being stripped of his WBC title due to a positive drug test for cocaine, 22-year-old David Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs) regained his title with a convincing ninth-round TKO of two-time champion Anthony Dirrell (33-2-1, 24 KOs) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The co-main event on the Errol Spence Jr.-Shawn Porter pay-per-view card turned out to be an exciting one as Benavidez opened up a nasty cut above Dirrell’s right eye in Round 6 that added urgency to an already exciting fight.

“This is one of the hardest fight I have ever been in, a very tactical fight,” Benavidez said. “I used my jab and was breaking him down the whole fight. It wasn’t easy, it was hard but I got the belt again. The youngest two-time champ from Phoenix, Arizona.”

The taller Benavidez was successful throughout at cutting off the ring and wearing Dirrell down with body shots and a stiff jab. Although Dirrell remained game and was able to counter his way out of trouble, the physical toll began to visibly wear on him just as the cut forced the native of Flint, Michigan, to take more chances.

“Much respect to the champion,” Dirrell said. “He fought his ass off and did what he had to do to win the title.”

Dirrell, just the second fighter in boxing history to win a world title after beating cancer, claimed Benavidez’s vacant strap in February via technical decision after a cut above his eye called an early end to the fight. The 34-year-old talked of retirement ahead of this fight regardless of the outcome, but did not bring the topic up during his post-fight interview.

“I just want to thank Anthony Dirrell,” Benavidez said. “He’s going to go down as one of the top fighters at 168 and I have nothing but respect to him.”

Referee Thomas Taylor referred Dirrell’s cut to the ringside doctor for a third time before the start of Round 8, causing the crowd to boo mercilessly. Sensing the urgency, Dirrell turned southpaw and began to attack but it wasn’t long before Benavidez, who motioned Dirrell on to brawl throughout the fight with his gloves, got the better of the two-way exchanges.

Benavidez visibly hurt Dirrell in Round 9 and wobbled him from corner to corner with flurries until Taylor waved off the fight after Dirrell’s corner threw in the towel.

“Of course I could have kept going,” Dirrell said. “I am a warrior and I was still ready to fight. I’m not going to quit. I appreciate my coach calling off the fight but I could have kept going.”

Benavidez, who was leading on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage, outlanded Dirrell by a margin of 165 to 94, according to CompuBox.

Source: Brian Campbell