Jose Benavidez Jr. is more aware than anyone that his pedestrian performance in his last fight didn’t meet expectations.
The former welterweight contender couldn’t get rid of Francisco Torres the way he anticipated. Then Benavidez pressed when the Argentinean underdog didn’t go away as quickly the lopsided odds suggested and Torres almost pulled off what would’ve been one of boxing’s biggest upsets of 2021.
Their 10-round middleweight match resulted in a majority draw last November 13 at Footprint Center in Phoenix. Judge Rocky Taylor scored Benavidez a 96-94 winner, but judges Dennis O’Connell and Chris Wilson had it even, 95-95 apiece.
Benavidez (27-1-1, 18 KOs) had hoped to impress his hometown fans in his first fight in more than three years since Terence Crawford stopped him in the 12th round of their 147-pound title fight. Whereas his younger brother, former WBC super middleweight champ David Benavidez, battered Kyrone Davis during the main event, the elder Benavidez’s supporters left the arena that night with more questions than answers about his career, which will continue against Danny Garcia on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“It was my first fight back,” Benavidez told BoxingScene.com. “I wanted to do so much and I didn’t do anything at all. I feel like in my last fight I didn’t perform how I was supposed to perform. You know, I should’ve knocked the guy out. I was just trying to focus on my power shots. The guy was a smart fighter, can’t take anything from him.
“But I just felt like I went back to the basics this camp. I’m fighting one of the best of the best. I just feel like I’m in a better position right now, stronger and I feel more motivated than ever. It’s a whole different game plan. If the knockout comes, it comes. … It’s gonna be my older self, but a new, premium version, the 2.0 version.”
DraftKings has listed Garcia as an 8-1 favorite as their “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event nears. Benavidez hasn’t paid much mind to the oddsmakers or fans who’ve discounted his chances against Garcia (36-3, 21 KOs), a former junior welterweight and welterweight champion who will end a 19-month layoff.
“You know, I don’t even focus on that,” Benavidez said. “I don’t focus on the reactions of other people. It was on myself. When I do something, I do it to the fullest. I wasn’t proud of myself. I don’t really care what other people think about me. It was just I knew I didn’t do what I had to do, and that’s what it was.
“I knew I could do better and I know I’m better, and that’s pretty much what it was. We all have our off nights and we just took that in and use that as motivation. It made me see things different and go back to the basics.”
Garcia, 34, and Benavidez, 30, are contracted to fight at the junior middleweight limit of 154 pounds, six pounds lower than the maximum allowance for Benavidez’s draw with Torres (17-4-1, 5 KOs). Philadelphia’s Garcia will make his debut at the 154-pound limit.
The Garcia-Benavidez bout will air after a pair of 10-rounders Showtime will televise as part of a three-bout broadcast set to start at 9 p.m. ET.
Adam Kownacki (20-2, 15 KOs), a heavyweight from Brooklyn, will battle Turkey’s Ali Demirezen (16-1, 12 KOs) in Showtime’s co-feature. In its opener, junior welterweight contender Gary Antuanne Russell (15-0, 15 KOs), a southpaw from Capitol Heights, Maryland, will face Cuba’s Rances Barthelemy (29-1-1, 15 KOs, 1 NC).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.