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Avila Perspective, Chap. 229: Benavidez, Plant and NCAA Hoops in Vegas

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  • Avila Perspective, Chap. 229: Benavidez, Plant and NCAA Hoops in Vegas

    If you know the history of Las Vegas, it’s endured a number of phases since its first major growth spurt when the Hoover Dam project brought thousands to the desert region in the 1930s.

    Then came the New York phase when the Flamingo Hotel was built in the 1940s and was followed by numerous other major casino hotels like the Sands, the Dunes and the Aladdin. Of course, boxing was always a way to entice people to the desert.

    This Saturday, four star boxing returns to Las Vegas. But it be competing against the western regional finals of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Prepare for crowds.

    Las Vegas is packed.

    Undefeated David Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) meets once-beaten Caleb Plant (22-1, 13 KOs) at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, March 25. The TGB Promotions card will be televised on Showtime pay-per-view.

    The winner gets a shot at undisputed super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. And that means big money.

    It’s all happening in Las Vegas and so will the NCAA tournament. Expect an extremely crowded Strip as fans of boxing and basketball convene on the strip by the thousands. Its also a gambler’s paradise for betting so make sure you allow yourself time because the lines will be long at the sportsbooks.

    When I first visited Las Vegas in the early 1970s sports betting was done outside of the casinos. The state law back then prohibited sportsbooks inside hotel-casinos. My favorite sportsbook, for sentimental reasons, is the Westgate Hotel, formerly the Hilton International. It’s has a huge sports betting area.

    I’m not a betting type of guy but sports betting to me is the center of everything and adds luster to the atmosphere of Las Vegas. You won’t find a sports book in California.

    Boxing has always been a sport made for betting, probably since the stone age.

    When Benavidez steps into the prize ring he will be the big favorite but if you truly know boxing, Plant does have a chance. Anything can happen in boxing. Anything.

    A man can parachute from the sky and land in the middle of the fight as happened back in 1993 when Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe were combatting for the heavyweight title at Caesars Palace. Of course, this won’t happen on Saturday because the fight is indoors at the MGM Hotel.

    One major lesson about pro boxing is that nothing is a sure thing.

    Though Benavidez has power and has never been defeated, he could tear an Achilles tendon right during the fight. Or he could break a wrist delivering a punch. I’ve also seen a great fighter like Pernell Whitaker get his clavicle broken from a single punch and be unable to continue.

    Don’t bet your house on the outcome.

    What you will see on Saturday is two very talented super middleweights with completely different fighting styles engage. They do not seem to care for each other but that doesn’t matter. It’s a fight, not a marble contest.

    Words have been exchanged all through the promotion. But words don’t mean a thing once the first bell rings.

    Plant has speed, agility and solid defensive skills. His only loss came to Canelo Alvarez. That’s more a medal of honor than an embarrassment.

    “I feel I’m the better boxer, I have the better IQ and I have more experience,” said Plant. “I have the better pedigree and its going to show on Saturday night.”

    Benavidez has power, speed and a very solid chin. He seems to intimidate foes with a come forward style that reminds me of a young George Foreman.

    “We’re going to see what that chin is like on Saturday,” said Benavidez.

    Supporting fights

    Cody Crowley meets Abel Ramos in an welterweight elimination fight for the WBC title held by Errol Spence Jr.

    Both of these guys are rough and tough. It’s the ram versus the bull.

    The other Ramos, Abel's brother Jesus, is fighting Joey Spencer in a super welterweight clash.

    Six other fights are planned at the MGM Grand.

    Top Rank

    Fresno’s Jose Carlos Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs) gets a hometown crowd when he meets Richard Commey (30-4-1, 27 KOs) on Saturday March 25. The former super lightweight titlist needs a win to get back in the hunt. ESPN will televise the Top Rank card.

    All of a sudden after one loss people started walking away,” said Ramirez. “We’re focused on Richard Commey.”

    Commey wants what Ramirez wants too, a title.

    I really want to become a two-time world champion, so I’m coming strong,” said Commey.

    Also on the same Fresno card will be WBA titlist Seniesa Estrada (23-0, 9 KOs) seeking to unify the minimumweight titles against Germany’s WBC titlist Tina Rupprecht (12-0-1, 3 KOs).

    “This is the moment that Ive dreamed of since I was seven years old,” said Estrada. “Its crazy to think how far I’ve come in this sport.”

    Rupprecht is also excited.

    It’s a big honor to fight for both titles,” Rupprecht said. “This is always what I wanted.”

    Fights to Watch

    Sat. Showtime ppv 6 p.m David Benavidez (26-0) vs Caleb Plant (22-1); Cody Crowley (21-0) vs Abel Ramos (27-5-2).

    Sat. ESPN 7 p.m. Jose Carlos Ramirez (27-1) vs Richard Commey (30-4-1); Seniesa Estrada (23-0) vs Tina Rupprecht (12-0-1).