When David Benavidez and Ronald Gavril first met for a vacant super middleweight world title in September, they waged one of the best fights of 2017.
That night, Benavidez survived a 12th-round knockdown and won a split-decision victory in a highly competitive fight as he was crowned, at age 20, the youngest 168-pound world titleholder in division history.
Benavidez promised Gavril he would give him an immediate rematch and he kept his word on Saturday when they went to battle again in a co-feature on the card headlined by the welterweight title eliminator between Danny Garcia and Brandon Rios, but this time it was not remotely close.
Benavidez dominated from start to finish as he routed Gavril to retain his world title for the first time at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Two judges had it a 120-108 shutout and one judge had it 119-109. ESPN.com also had it 120-108 for Benavidez.
"I knew he was going to come in aggressive," Benavidez said. "He's a one trick type of pony. He don't know how to so anything but pressure. I used that to my advantage -- jab, box him all day and when I saw the opening I took it. I didn't knock him out but he's a tough son of a gun. I have the belt around my waist and look at his face."
Benavidez (20-0, 17 KOs), who earned $400,000 to Gavril's $125,000, had his way with Gavril the entire fight. He started strong and seemed to get stronger as the fight progressed. He had a huge fourth round, landing a powerful right uppercut and left hook that severely rocked Gavril and sent him bouncing off the ropes.
Knowing he had Gavril hurt, Benavidez chased after him and began teeing off on him before Gavril grabbed onto him for dear life.
Benavidez, 21, of Phoenix, continually stuck his hard jab in Gavril's face and nailed him with right hands. Gavril, 31, a Romania native fighting out of Las Vegas, took many thunderous shots but showed a good chin and huge heart to stay on his feet.
By the eighth round it seemed as if it might be a good idea for Gavril's corner, headed by trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, to think about stopping the fight. Gavril's face was bloody and bruised.
Benavidez continued to pound the Floyd Mayweather-promoted Gavril (18-3, 14 KOs) in the ninth round and referee Russell Mora was looking close, but he allowed it to continue. Before the 11th round began, Mora had the ringside doctor examine Gavril, whose white trunks were smeared with his blood, but the doctor was OK with him continuing despite the utter pounding he was taking.
Gavril continued to fight hard and landed some solid shots in the final round but Benavidez was unfazed by anything coming his way.
"He tried to box me. It was a good fight," Gavril said. "He was the best man this night. What can I say? Go back in the gym, work and come back stronger."
Ugas stops Robinson
In the opening bout of the tripleheader, Yordenis Ugas dominated and knocked out Ray Robinson in the seventh round of their welterweight world title elimination fight.
With the victory, Ugas moved a step closer to a mandatory shot at the 147-pound belt held by Errol Spence Jr. (23-0, 20 KOs).
Ugas started quickly, dropping Robinson with a right hand with about 50 seconds left in the first round. In the fourth round, referee Robert Byrd took a point from Robinson for a low blow.
Ugas was in total control throughout the fight and then, about 30 seconds into the seventh round, Ugas connected with a tremendous sweeping right hand to Robinson's forehead to knock him down. Robinson was hurt but beat the count and Ugas went right after him.
Ugas, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist for Cuba, battered Robinson around the ring, trapped him in a corner and unloaded punch after punch until Byrd waved off the fight at 1 minute, 5 seconds.
"I felt like I was the stronger fighter by far and he didn't hurt me," Ugas said. "He lost a point for hitting me after the bell sounded, and knocked me down, but even that didn't hurt me. He was very awkward and his style threw off my timing.
"Luckily I was able to land body shots that I knew were hurting him. I was able to dictate the pace and we never in trouble. I want Errol Spence next. Everyone wants Errol."
Ugas (21-3, 10 KOs), 31, who fights out of Miami, Florida, won his sixth fight in a row. He was ahead 60-52, 60-53 and 59-54 at the time of the stoppage.
Robinson (24-3, 12 KOs), 32, of Philadelphia, who made $30,000 to Ugas' $40,000, saw a 13-fight winning streak come to an end.