From the moment promoter Sampson Lewkowicz began working with super middleweight David Benavidez, he believed he had found a special fighter with star potential.
Lewkowicz, who was integral to helping launch the careers of Manny Pacquiao and Sergio Martinez in the United States, has a reputation as a tremendous talent evaluator, and he would tell anyone who listened that Benavidez would be his next star.
Benavidez isn't quite a star yet, but with his charisma, giant knockout power and youth, he is perhaps on his way.
"In November 2015, I said that I had new blood for our industry -- David Benavidez -- who would be the best and youngest super middleweight champion in the history of our sport,'' Lewkowicz said.
Benavidez has the opportunity to realize Lewkowicz's prophecy on Friday (Showtime, 10:05 p.m. ET/PT) at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Benavidez will take on the Floyd Mayweather-promoted Ronald Gavril for a vacant super middleweight world title in the main event of a tripleheader that will also include two other super middleweight fights, scheduled for 10 rounds apiece, in which the winners could set themselves up for a possible title shot against the main-event victor.
J'Leon Love (23-1, 13 KOs) will take on Abraham Han (26-3, 16 KOs) in the co-feature, and prospect Caleb Plant (15-0, 10 KOs) will face late replacement Andrew Hernandez (19-6-1, 9 KOs), who stepped in this week after Alan Campa (16-3, 11 KOs) dropped out.
But all eyes will be on Benavidez, who, at age 20, can become the youngest world titleholder in the history of the 168-pound division that was created in 1984. The record is currently held by Darrin Van Horn, who was 22 years, 8 months and 11 days old when he knocked out Lindell Holmes in the 11th round to win the IBF version of the title on May 18, 1991. A Benavidez victory would shatter that mark.
"This opportunity means the world to me," said Benavidez, the younger brother of former interim welterweight titlist Jose Benavidez Jr. "I've been working for this since I was a little kid. It's all come down to this moment, when I'm ready to take this belt and take over the 168-pound division."
Benavidez (18-0, 17 KOs), of Phoenix, and Gavril (18-1, 14 KOs), 31, a native of Romania fighting out of Las Vegas, will square off for the belt vacated by Badou Jack in January after he fought to a draw with James DeGale in a title unification bout and then decided to move up to light heavyweight.
Benavidez was initially scheduled to face former world titleholder Anthony Dirrell, but Dirrell pulled out of the bout with an unspecified injury, leaving Gavril as the WBC's next leading available contender to fight for the belt.
"We didn't cherry-pick this opponent," Lewkowicz said. "He was the next available contender when Anthony Dirrell pulled out. We expect fireworks. We expect to birth a new superstar. The most important thing is to determine in which round Gavril will be knocked out, because I believe that we're talking about matching a jet plane against a helicopter.
"So I expect a spectacular performance from Benavidez, who will begin his run as the new blood in boxing and will keep it going until he retires."
Gavril has reeled off seven victories in a row since suffering an eight-round decision loss to journeyman Elvin Ayala in March 2013.
"It's been a great journey for me, getting to this point of fighting for a world title," Gavril said. "I have a great team behind me who pushes me every single day to perform my best, learn from my mistakes and perfect my technique. Those values have gotten me here, and I am thankful for such an amazing opportunity. I will go out there and give it everything I have. I can't leave the ring without the championship belt."
Benavidez is coming off the most impressive victory of his career, an eighth-round knockout of tough-as-nails former title challenger Rogelio "Porky" Medina in a title elimination bout on May 20.
Now he has history at hand in the fight Friday night and no plans to let it slip away from him.
"The time is almost here, and I can hardly wait for [Friday]," Benavidez said. "Winning the championship would be enough on its own. But the opportunity to be the youngest in the sport is a major accomplishment and the biggest of my life so far.
"I have a tough competitor in front of me, and I know he's treating it as seriously as I am. I've been working for two and a half months for this fight, and I'm not overlooking him."