By Jake Donovan
Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions play nice for the second time in just over a month. Of course, the moment comes on a night where both companies are promoting shows in direct conflict with one another mere minutes apart in Las Vegas.
As it pertains to this show, a co-promotion is in store for the opening leg of an HBO-televised tripleheader, as Mauricio Herrera (Golden Boy) faces unbeaten Jose Benavidez Jr. (Top Rank). The 140 lb. title fight takes place at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, in supporting capacity to a show topped by a welterweight clash between Timothy Bradley and Diego Chaves.
Herrera (21-4, 7KOs) has been on both ends of debatable decisions in his seven years as a pro fighter. The battle tested veteran from Riverside, Calif. was on the wrong end of a questionable call versus Mike Anchondo in his first loss in 2009, but was in the judges’ good graces in becoming the first to defeat Ruslan Provodnikov in their hotly contested Jan. ’11 clash on ESPN2.
The most egregious decision in his career came in March, when many felt Herrera did enough to unseat World lineal 140 lb. king Danny Garcia in Puerto Rico. The judges felt otherwise, handing Herrera his third loss in the span of five fights, though he bounced back strong to outpoint Johan Perez in their interim title fight this past July.
Benavidez (21-0, 15KOs) was a highly touted amateur when Top Rank signed him as a 17-year old prior to his pro debut in Jan. ’10. Approaching his fifth full year in the pro ranks, the Phoenix, Ariz. native is believed by his handlers to be ready for prime time.
The showdown versus Herrera represents a massive leap in competition for Benavidez, who has been heavily favored in each of his 21 bouts to date.
Saturday’s affair is anything but a walkover for either fighter, but who will ultimately prevail?
Read on to see how the staff at BoxingScene.com believes Saturday’s super lightweight action goes down in Las Vegas.
BOXINGSCENE.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS: MAURICIO HERRERA vs. JOSE BENAVIDEZ
Ryan Burton (Benavidez SD): I expect a close fight but youth will be served as the 6' tall Benavidez gets the nod on 2 of the 3 cards.
Jake Donovan (Benavidez SD): “Most people picking against Benavidez are under the belief that this fight is too much, too soon for the former amateur standout. That could very well be the case, but my gut tells me he boxes just well enough to squeak out a close and highly disputed decision in his first true step-up fight against a fighter who’s no stranger to getting hosed by the judges.”
Steve Kim (Herrera Dec.): I think Herrera is too skilled and seasoned, he wins a decision
John MacDonald (Herrera UD): I feel this fight has come too soon for Benavidez. Herrera's high work rate, accurate jab and experience should be too much for the talented but green Benavidez.
Cliff Rold (Herrera Dec.): This is a genuine toss up. Herrera has had a good year. It should end well.
Reynaldo Sanchez (Herrera UD): In my opinion Garcia has a bad night versus Herrera. Benavidez he hasn’t the same opponent’s level in the paper to put in peril Herrera
Alexey Sukachev (Herrera UD): I've heard much of Benavidez somewhere in 2010-2011 but than he left out my memory. Was he fighting anyone with a pulse? I remeber seeing him against a limited fighter (maybe Pavel Miranda), when he was cracked badly and did his best to survive till the final bell. Is he the same kid? I think he is way too inexperienced against suched a gritty and skillful master as Herrera, who have seen it all. Vast UD for Herrera - and maybe with a couple of knockdowns.
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