By Rick Reeno
MGM Grand, Las Vegas - On Saturday night, Jose Benavidez (25-0, 16KOs) made his official debut as a welterweight on the Terence Crawford vs. Viktor Postol undercard.
He fought his way to a ten round unanimous decision over Francisco Santana (24-5-1, 12KOs). The scores were 100-90, 96-94 and 98-92 for Benavidez.
The fight was closer than the scorecards would indicate, but Santana was wide open for nearly all of Benavidez's counter shots all night.
Once the scores were announced, the crowd was unhappy with the outcome. Their displeasure was likely a direct result of the wide scoring.
"I threw the cleaner, harder punches. I felt very strong with the power running up and down my arms. I expected a tough fight and got it. Santana was tougher than I thought," Benavidez said.
After the fight was over, Benavidez made it clear that he wanted a world title fight in the fall - and specifically he wanted a showdown with Top Rank stablemate Jessie Vargas, who holds the WBO welterweight title.
"Next I want Jessie Vargas. We plan to call Bob Arum on Monday and ask to fight Jessie for the world title," Benavidez said.
Vargas (27-1, 10KOs) captured the vacant title earlier this year with a knockout of Sadam Ali. He remains a leading candidate to face Manny Pacquiao on November 5th at the Thomas & Mack Center. Crawford, who dominated Postol to unify the WBC/WBO 140-pound titles, is also a candidate for Pacquiao.
If the the opportunity to fight Pacquaio falls through, Vargas has no problem with making his first defense against Benavidez.
"If Benavidez wants it, tell him to come get it," Vargas said.