By Ryan Burton
Welterweight contender Francisco "Chia" Santana (24-4-1) has a big opportunity in front of him when he faces Jose Benavidez Jr. (24-0) on Saturday on the Terence Crawford-Viktor Postol HBO pay-per-view undercard. The fight takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Santana last fought on HBO in April, 2015 when he lost an unanimous decision to former title challenger Sadam Ali. The 30-year-old is very excited to have another fight in front of the HBO brass.
"Obviously it is a big opportunity because it is a pay-per-view event, HBO. I am glad to be back on HBO again. This fight, a win over Benavidez can put me in talks possibly for a world title shot. It is big but when all is said and done I am focused on one thing and that is to execute the game plan on July 23rd," said Benavidez.
He has a tough opponent in the 24-year-old Benavidez who stands nearly 6' tall. Santana believes that as long as he follows his game plan he will come out with the victory.
"I am focused on what I need to do to come out victorious that night and we will be ready for whatever he brings to the table that night. He comes from a boxing family. His brother is a good fighter and his father is a good trainer but when it is all said and done again I am just focused on my game plan," Santana stated.
The Santa Barbara resident is no stranger to fighting undefeated prospects and in his opponents backyards. He holds victories over fighters who were undefeated at the time such as Antonio Johnson and Eddie Gomez and fought highly regarded super welterweight to a draw.
He believes that experience will be invaluable Saturday night.
"I've been through adversity. I have fought at a heavier weight. I have fought close to middleweight. I think that he said that he is the bigger man but I have campaigned at heavier weights. He is undefeated and they don't like to let that "0" go but I have never had anything given to me and I have a really good work ethic. I really work hard and I listen to my trainer and come fight night I just see him as another opponent. I think a record is just a number. It doesn't mean anything. Once the bell ring its just one man against the other man," Santana reasoned.
As for the main event, Santana feels that it is almost too close to call. He has seen both fighters train and believes they both are at the top of their game.
"That is a toss up, 50-50. I trained for a couple weeks with Crawford in Vegas back when he was training with Kenny Adams for a couple fights. That guy is the real deal. He has power. He has speed. I remember at that camp thinking this guy is the real deal. Then I remember seeing Postol spar, he was actually sparring Ruslan Provodnikov and he just looked really good. It is a matter of who can implement their game plan that night. I lean just a slight bit towards Crawford though," Santana told BoxingScene.com.
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