David Benavidez tested positive for COVID-19, sources told ESPN on Wednesday, postponing his Aug. 28 fight with Jose Uzcategui in Phoenix that was set to headline Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Showtime.
The 24-year-old volume puncher, one of boxing’s rising stars, has been pushing toward an eventual shot at the division kingpin, Canelo Alvarez. Benavidez (24-0, 21 KOs) has scored four consecutive victories inside the distance since a rematch victory over Ronald Gavril in 2018.
If Benavidez (24-0, 21 KOs) could become the first fighter to stop Uzcategui, it would mark the biggest win of his budding career. But he’ll have to wait for the opportunity. The plan, sources said, is to reschedule the clash of former 168-pound titleholders.
The postponement is just the latest in a string of notable boxing cancellations. One day earlier, Errol Spence Jr. withdrew from his Aug. 21 fight with Manny Pacquiao after a torn retina was discovered. Last month, Tyson Fury pulled out of his trilogy fight with Deontay Wilder after contracting COVID-19. And one month before that, Teofimo Lopez fell ill from the coronavirus, forcing his title bout with George Kambosos to be rescheduled.
Benavidez was set to headline in his native Phoenix for the first time as he inches closer to another title shot. At 20 years old, Benavidez became the youngest champion in super-middleweight history when he scored a split decision over Gavril in a tougher-than-expected fight.
He was even dropped in the 12th round of that 2017 bout, but left no doubt in the return bout. However, it was only one successful defense of the title for Benavidez: He tested positive for cocaine and was stripped of the belt before his next fight.
With an uncanny blend of size, strength and hand speed, Benavidez has long been viewed as the fighter who can best challenge Canelo. His résumé includes a win over one former titleholder in Anthony Dirrell. Uzcategui (31-4, 26 KOs) would make it two.
The Mexican stopped Anthony’s brother, Andre Dirrell, in a 2018 breakout performance, and was elevated from interim champion ahead of a defense against Caleb Plant in January 2019. Plant dropped Uzcategui twice en route to a unanimous decision. Two fights later, Uzcategui was again on the canvas and lost another decision, this time an upset to Lionell Thompson.
Despite all the knockdowns in those two fights, Uzcategui saw the final bell. Benavidez will now have to wait for his chance to finish him off.