In what was the talk of twitter until the main event of Bradley vs Chavez, Jose Benavidez Jr. defeated Mauricio Herrera by unanimous decision on scores of 117-111 and 116-112 twice. The win for Benavidez was a controversial one as has been the case with Mauricio Herrera considering his style and lack of punching power.
Mauricio Herrera is a good fighter and listening to the commentators on HBO the average boxing fan with limited knowledge on Mauricio Herrera would believe they were watching the second coming of Julio Cesar Chavez in the ring. Herrera fought well and was busy during the entire fight but that doesn’t mean that he was effective.
During the broadcast on HBO Max Kellerman made a statement to the effect of “the judges don’t fall in to group think” or they “don’t have a Roy Jones Jr sitting next to them “ they are sitting by themselves and have to make snap decisions without compu-stat numbers or commentary. Most fans at home are rooting for their favorite fighter and Mauricio Herrera earned what could almost be described as a cult following after his loss to 140lb.champion Danny Garcia. Given that, most fans or spectators lean towards the familiar; and in this fight Herrera was the familiar.
Enter Jose Benavidez Jr.; only the die hard fight fans knew Benavidez was the youngest Golden Gloves champion in history. The casual fans that may have remembered Herrera from his loss to Garcia, entered the broadcast believing Benavidez was in there to lose to Herrera because Herrera was the name with the following.
During the first round Benavidez came out with a good jab and controlled the first minute and a half, Herrera landed a good left right combo in the middle of the round only to see Benavidez close the round with a good right hand. The second round saw Benavidez falling back on the ropes and allow Herrera to go to work throwing punches to the body that saw a few get through but most were blocked.
Rounds three through six saw Benavidez throw crisp shots that moved Herrera. Benavidez’s body work appeared to slow Herrera down and allow Benavidez to land good combinations in the middle of the ring.
During rounds seven through nine Herrera started to take over as Benavidez would sit on the ropes and look to counter. Benavidez landed too few punches compared to the work rate of Herrera to warrant winning these rounds.
Rounds ten through twelve saw Benavidez increase his activity but still fight off the ropes much to the chagrin of his trainer and father Jose Benavidez Sr. Benavidez landed the better shots down the stretch and the commentators on HBO were already starting the “controversy” talk. Before the twelfth round trainer Jose Benavidez Sr. told Jr. to give it all and go for the knockout. Benavidez came out and threw effective combinations to close the fight and win the round.
The controversy of the decision that came with Benavidez winning by scores of 117-111 and 116-112 twice is the age old question in boxing. What matters more a fighter that throws fewer punches but does more damage, or a fighter that throws hundreds of tapping punches to catch the eye?
During the post-fight press conference Benavidez was asked about a rematch with Herrera saying “If he wants a rematch we’ll do a rematch, I’ll school him worse”.
Benavidez said “I think he was taking me lightly” “it feels great to be a champion a lot of people doubted me.” When asked about languishing on the ropes “his punches weren’t landing, there were hitting me on the elbows, behind the head. I was landing the cleaner punches.”
Either way you slice this pie Benavidez showed that he can fight at the world class level and has added a new name to an already stacked division. Benavidez says “I’ll fight anyone at 140 or 147 I normally fight at 147 but came down for this fight, but I’ll fight Jessie Vargas, Danny Garcia or (Terrance) Crawford.”
With a little polishing Benavidez at his young age has a huge upside and room to grow. Top Rank has a strong history of grooming prospects into stars of the sport. The combination of the two is a recipe for success and only benefits the fan. Boxing fans are a fickle bunch but one thing is certain love him or hate him, they know who he is now and they’ll either tune in to pray he loses or root him on.
Photo from sports.yahoo.com