David Benavidez focused on bigger, brighter future, not past

If you’re waiting for David Benavidez to take another misstep in his career, you might be waiting a long time.

The 25-year-old super middleweight contender has had two significant slip-ups. He lost the WBA world title out the ring on separate occasions, first after testing positive for cocaine at 21 and then as a result of missing weight by almost three pounds before a defense at 23.

That was then, he told Boxing Junkie. He felt the pain of his mistakes and learned from them. And he feels he can’t afford another self-inflicted setback. He has a family now, a young son, as well as team members who depend on him.

David Benavidez is working toward becoming a three-time world champion. Michael Owens / Getty Images

All that motivates him to focus intently on the task at hand and not the past. He faces David Lemieux on Saturday in Glendale, Arizona (Showtime).

“I just have to keep working hard and let the success take the noise away,” he said, referring to his doubters. “We’re here doing what we have to do. Things are done, people make mistakes. That’s how it is in life. If you keep worrying about the bad stuff, the bad things going on, you’re never going to progress in your life. People have setbacks in their lives, successful people.

“I’m going to keep working hard, keep doing what I have to do until my career is over. … I can’t really worry about what other people say about me.”

Of course, with so many people depending on him, comes pressure.

Benavidez (25-0, 22 KOs) feels only he can beat himself. That’s both good and bad, good because he theoretically has full control of his destiny, potentially bad because the world is on his shoulders.

“I just feel I have to work extra hard,” he said. “When you work harder, it will allow you to reach another level of yourself, your game, your mind. That’s fine with me. I want to be the best version of myself I can be. If I get pushed, if I get motivated by other people, then that’s what it takes now.”

The fight with Lemieux (43-4, 36 KOs) is important for Benavidez.

It could be a stepping stone to a showdown with an elite opponent, perhaps Caleb Plant, Jermall Charlo or Demetrius Andrade, and bring him closer to a shot at another 168-pound title. And a victory would earn him another title belt, albeit the WBC’s “interim” version.

He wants to feel what it’s like to have one wrapped around his waist again.

“I’m excited for this fight even though it’s an interim belt,” he said. “Where I come from, every belt is special, even when I won [minor] belts. … I’m grateful to be in these positions to fight for these titles because a title shot doesn’t come from for anybody.

“… And this next title is very special for me because it will open doors for me.”

It will also push his mistakes farther into the past.

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