Benavidez stops Dirrell to regain WBC super middleweight title

LOS ANGELES -- David Benavidez said leading up to the fight that he was going to knock Anthony Dirrell out and take back the WBC super middleweight title.

Benavidez stopped a bloody Dirrell in the ninth round when Dirrell’s corner called on the ringside inspectors to stop the fight in the chief support of the Errol Spence Jr.-Shawn Porter welterweight world title unification fight Saturday night at Staples Center.

"This was one of the hardest fights I've had," Benavidez said. "It was very tactical in the beginning, but I worked my jab the whole time. It wasn't easy. I'm now the youngest two-time (super middleweight) world champion, from Phoenix, Arizona. I've got a lot of respect for Anthony Dirrell, especially the way he fought tonight."

Dirrell, who suffered a horrible gash over his right eye in the sixth round, made no excuses, and tipped his hat to Benavidez.

"I felt it when the punch opened up the cut. Much respect to the champion. He fought his ass off," said Dirrell, who needed 15 stitches to close the cut.

After a feeling out round to start the fight, Benavidez got in a rhythm in the second round, landing with the jab and firing right hands down the middle.

Benavidez was in firm control in the fourth round before a Dirrell rallied in the final seconds, pinning Benavidez against the ropes and landing with several solid blows.

Benavidez (22-0, 19 KO’s), 22, backed up Dirrell in the fifth round with a good combination in an otherwise slow round. However, everything changed in the sixth.

Benavidez opened a huge gash over Dirrell's right eye in the sixth round and referee Thomas Taylor called multiple timeouts lasting into the seventh round for the ringside doctor to examine Dirrell.

Taylor had the doctor check out the cut again in the opening seconds eighth round, and again the fight was allowed to continue. Benavidez hurt Dirrell with a left hook late in the round and continue to tear him up with shots into the ninth.

As Benavidez smashed Dirrell around the ring, Taylor was unaware that Dirrell’s corner had thrown in the towel. Two commission inspectors climbed up the ring apron to inform Taylor in a frantic panic. The bout was officially stopped at one minute, 39 seconds.

"I could have kept going. I was still ready to fight," Dirrell said. "I didn't go down and I didn't quit. I could have kept going. He's the true champion. In the whole lead-up to the fight and with all the press, he was a champion."

In September 2017, Benavidez won the vacant belt to become, at 20, the youngest fighter ever to win a 168-pound world title. However, after making a single defense, Benavidez was stripped of the belt after he failed a random drug test for cocaine.

Benavidez was subsequently suspended and returned on the Spence-Mikey Garcia undercard in March following a 13-month layoff to KO J'Leon Love in the second round.

While Benavidez was on the shelf, Dirrell won the vacant belt in a 10th-round technical decision against Avni Yildirim on Feb. 23.

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