By Chris Robinson
On January 22nd junior welterweight sensation Jose Benavidez Jr. will make his first appearance of the New Year when he faces off with Dallas' Fernando Rodriguez at the Texas Station Casino in Las Vegas. There has already been a huge buzz surrounding the 18-year old prospect but he goes into 2011 with even more eyes fixed upon him.
Benavidez drew rave reviews last year for his work at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles, California, as his father openly shared certain training duties with world renown Freddie Roach. Benavidez would get to spar some of the world's best fighters, including Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao, and was impressive enough for Roach to call him a can't-miss future champion and his most promising protege in the bunch.
Last year Benavidez carved out a 9-0 record, all stoppages, but just recently word leaked of his depature from the Wild Card as he is now back home at his bases in Phoenix, Arizona. While Jose claims his absence stemmed from Roach not having enough time to devote to him, the outspoken trainer claims that it was simply too difficult to deal with the star pupil's father and that it was only a matter of time before both parties went their seperate ways.
Some look at Benavidez's removal from the Wild Card as a huge blow, as being around a world-class atmosphere like that is priceless for a budding young pugilist, while others were adamant with their belief that Benavidez is so talented that he will succeed anyways and that his baptism by fire will instead come in the ring as a professional.
The stage is set for Benavidez to provide us with the real answer.
Earlier today Jose Sr. informed me that his son will be hitting Las Vegas on Wednesday to settle in for Saturday night's card and that he will continue his running and training drills within the city until fight time beckons. The Top Rank show is headlined by local attraction and junior lightweight prospect Diego Magdaleno facing off with Marcos Jiminez in a ten-round attraction.