By Rick Reeno
MGM Grand, Las Vegas - Making his official debut as a welterweight, Jose Benavidez (25-0, 16KOs) won a ten round unanimous decision over Francisco Santana (24-5-1, 12KOs). The scores were 100-90 (absolutely crazy), 96-94 and 98-92 for Benavidez.
When the first bell rang, Santana went right after Benavidez and they were trading shots on the inside with both boxers having their moments. It was all-action. Benavidez was unloading with some very telling punches in the final thirty seconds.
Santana went right back on the attack in the second. In the final minute, Benavidez nearly took his head off with a huge uppercut and some crushing power shots. Santana's legs was shaken up, but he stayed on his feet and continued to go after Benavidez.
In the third, Santana was pinning Benavidez against the ropes and unloading, but he always left himself wide open and was hit flush often with big counter shots. Santana continued the same strategy in the fourth, of pinning Benavidez against the ropes and letting his hands go to the head and body. Benavidez did well to cover up and block a lot of the shots.
Benavidez was coming on strong in the fifth, unloading big shots in the final minute as Santana was barely even trying to defend himself. Santana had the edge in the sixth and outworked Benavidez. The seventh was more of the same, with Benavidez just staying on the ropes and allowing Santana to do work while throwing very little in return.
In the eight, Benavidez was using a lot more movement and was more calculated with his punches while Santana just kept throwing and throwing. They were trading a lot of shots in the ninth at close range, with Benavidez doing more damage and landing better shots.
As he did all night, Santana kept coming and coming, throwing and throwing in the tenth and final round. Benavidez was more than happy to stand and trade with him until the final bell.