By Ryan Maquiñana
Jose Benavidez Jr. has given up on preparing for a certain fighter.
“Honestly, I don’t even look at film anymore because I’ve had so many guys pull out,” the 20-year-old welterweight told BoxingScene.com. “I have to treat it like the amateurs basically and just train hard for whoever it is that shows up at the weigh-in.”
Such is the life for one of boxing’s most coveted prospects. Benavidez (16-0, 13 KOs) was initially slated to fight Raul Tovar but will now face Pavel Miranda (17-7-1, 8 KOs) this Saturday in Carson, Calif., on the Nonito Donaire-Toshiaki Nishioka undercard.
“It’ll be a good opportunity for the people at HBO to take a look at him, and see his skills, and hopefully take him to the next level,” his father and trainer Jose Sr. said.
“This one’s going to be another eight-rounder,” he added. “I’ll go as ‘Junior’ progresses. If he looks good, maybe one or two more and then he’ll be ready for a 10-rounder, but if he progresses right, then it may be time to step him up after that.”
Training at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood alongside his promising younger brother David and under the tutelage of their father, Benavidez Jr. has seen a transformation in his body since arriving to Southern California three years ago.
“I started at 140 [pounds]. I’m really not that much heavier now,” he said. “By fight night I’ll be around 145. I’ve been getting older, growing a little bit, and getting stronger. I’ve definitely built more muscle than when I got here a couple years ago.”
While the body is willing, in recent bouts, the hands have not. Benavidez Jr. broke his right hand against Samuel Santana last year and has had recurring hand problems. However, he insisted that those issues are behind him.
“We went through therapy a couple months ago, and it feels good now,” he said. “I was able to use it in my last fight when I knocked out Javier Loya (7-1, 6 KOs), so I’m back to 100 percent.”
Top Rank has firmly placed their hopes in Benavidez to fulfill his potential. After all, when he first burst on the pro scene after being the youngest amateur ever to win the National Golden Gloves at 16, Freddie Roach called him “the best pro prospect in the world.”
“To be honest, it motivates me because a lot of people are watching me and have faith in me,” Benavidez Jr. said. I’m trying to become a world champion one day like the people in my gym, like a Manny Pacquiao, so I just have to keep working hard in the gym and doing what I have to do.”
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.