By Jake Donovan, photos by Mikey Williams
Jose Benavidez Jr. gets his first true hometown showcase when he faces Henry Aurad in a scheduled eight-round welterweight bout Saturday evening in Phoenix, Arizona.
The bout was made official after both fighters successfully made weight during Friday's weigh-in, coming in below the welterweight limit. Benavidez Jr. came in at a lean 145.8 lb., while Aurad - a Colombian knockout artist now based in Miami - tipped the scales at a fighting ready 146 lb. for Saturday's contest, which headlines on UniMas in the U.S.
Benavidez Jr. (20-0, 14KOs) has fought just three bouts in his home state of Arizona since turning pro four years ago. The closest he's come to fighting at home in Phoenix was when he knocked out Corey Alacorn in four rounds in their June '11 bout in Chandler, roughly 30 minutes away.
Saturday's contest marks a return to eight-round bouts for Benavidez Jr., a former amateur standout, whose last three bouts have been scheduled for six rounds.
Aurad (16-8-1, 13KOs) comes in with back-to-back wins over pedestrian opposition after having suffered four consecutive knockout losses.
In the evening's co-feature, Oscar Valdez - who represented Mexico in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games - faces hapless Juan Ruiz in a scheduled eight-round featherweight bout. Both fighters came in under the 126 lb. divisional limit; Valdez (11-0, 11KOs) was 125.8 lb., while Ruiz tipped the scales at 125.4 lb.
Valdez has yet to be extended beyond the sixth round since turning pro in Nov. '12. While Ruiz (23-13, 7KOs) hasn't won a fight in six years (eight straight losses over that stretch), the 35-year old Mexican veteran has also never been stopped in 36 pro fights, lasting the distance with notable talents such as Gary Russell Jr. and former 122 lb. titlist Victor Terrazas.