Promoter: David Benavidez will return to ring in March

It's been a rather tumultuous period of time for WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez (20-0, 17 KOs), who tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a main ingredient in cocaine, under the WBC Clean Boxing program in mid-September in a test that was administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).

Sampson Lewkowicz, who promotes Benavidez, told ESPN that his fighter is suspended until Feb. 27.

"He will most likely be back on the second week of March," said Lewkowicz. "He will fight a regular fight, a 10-rounder."

Lewkowicz added that March 16 would "most likely" be the exact date of Benavidez's return to the ring.

In addition to his six-month suspension by the WBC, he is now a champion in recess with the organization. On Sept. 8, 2017, Benavidez captured this vacant title by defeating Ronnie Gavril in a 12-round split decision. The two engaged in a rematch this past Feb. 17 with Benavidez scoring a much wider unanimous victory.

Before his suspension, Benavidez was scheduled to face his mandatory challenger, Anthony Dirrell, in the fall.

Back in May, the 21-year-old Benavidez had a short-lived dalliance with Top Rank that saw him sign a promotional deal with the company, only to have him change course a few days later, having to return a $250,000 signing bonus in the process. Lewkowicz remains the promoter for Benavidez, who fights under the Premiere Boxing Champions banner.

WBC head Mauricio Sulaiman stated to ESPN.com via email that in addition to the suspension, Benavidez was "ordered to undergo serious rehab support, including psychological, medical as well as a testing protocol of anti-doping."

"It's not that he's an addict, he made a mistake," Lewkowicz insisted. "He was partying up, he's very young and with a lot of money, and this is what happens sometimes. But he recognizes his mistakes and he's clean. This is not a case of being an addict."