By Jake Donovan
The concern heading into the HBO-televised opener was that Mauricio Herrera was too much for Jose Benavidez Jr. at this stage of the young boxer's career. For the second time this year, however, the veteran boxer proved no match for the ringside judges.
An interim title reign comes to a bitter end for Herrera, who landed on the business end of yet another widely controversial decision as Benavidez escapes with the win and a 140 lb. title Saturday evening at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Scores were 116-112 (twice) and an eye-opening 117-111 card from Dave 'Not Carl' Moretti.
Herrera jumped out to an early lead, walking down the rail thin Benavidez Jr., who took several rounds to get going. The 22-year old boxer from Phoenix settled down in round four, putting in good work to the body and making use of his significant height and reach advantages.
The tide turned back in favor of the defending interim titlist midway through the fight, as Herrera drove Benavidez to the ropes with digging body shots. Both fighters let it all hang out in the 12th and final round, fighting as if the decision was very much on the table.
As it turned out, Herrera needed several knockdowns in order to leave with his belt still intact. The wide scores give Benavidez Jr. his first title. The former amateur standout advances to 22-0 (15KOs).
Herrera was forced to revisit the disappointment he endured earlier this year in Puerto Rico, where he was believed to have outfought World 140 lb. king Danny Garcia only to not get shown any love from the judges. History repeats itself, as he suffers his second loss in three fights in falling to 21-5 (7KOs).
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox