By Ryan Maquiñana
Almost two weeks after his 20th birthday, junior welterweight prospect Jose Benavidez Jr. unwrapped the best gift of all last Saturday following his unanimous decision win over Josh Sosa on Azteca America—a pair of healthy hands.
“Everything was good,” his father and trainer Jose Benavidez Sr. said. “We were cautious, especially in the early rounds, and he said his hands felt good. Junior didn’t put him away, but we’re still happy with the way he dominated in there.”
Benavidez Jr. (15-0, 12 KOs), a promising 140-pounder from Phoenix, Ariz., whom Freddie Roach once called “the best prospect in the world,” has become the subject of concern in recent months among the Top Rank brass because of a surgically repaired right wrist and hand.
However, the diagnosis has been positive so far, and the plan is now for Benavidez to return to the Casino del Sol in Tuscon, Ariz., the same site of last weekend’s fight, for the July 21 Antonio Margarito-Abel Perry card. This time, however, he’ll be doing something unprecedented in his early career.
“We talked about it with [Top Rank matchmaker] Bruce [Trampler], and the plan is to put him in an eight-rounder for the first time,” Benavidez Sr. said. “We think he’s ready. Junior will come back to Wild Card [Gym] on Monday and we’ll start training for that.”
Team Benavidez will likely head to Big Bear soon after arriving in Hollywood to spar with lightweight contender Mercito Gesta (25-0-1, 13 KOs), who is preparing for his own July 20 date on ESPN2.
Ryan Maquiñana writes a weekly boxing column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.