In a tragic turn of events, undefeated welterweight contender Jose Benavidez was shot in the leg early Thursday morning in Phoenix. He is expected to live, but according to a report posted on TMZ, his future career could be in jeopardy.
This happens just as Benavidez was just hitting his stride as a contender. While I thought he got a gift decision in December 2014 against Mauricio Herrera, Benavidez’s potential has always been unquestionable. His physical tools are imposing–at 5’11” tall and with a 73″ reach, he is long and tall for a welterweight fighter.
Jose Benavidez was an amateur standout, winning a National gold gloves title in 2009, when he was 17. He turned professional in January 2010, still four months shy of his 18th birthday.
Benavidez has been what you would call a “blue-chip” prospect. He has been handled by super trainer Freddie Roach and is promoted by Top Rank.
With Benavidez’s build, speed and technical ability, he should be able to deliver serious punching power. Developing punching power in his fighters has been one of Roach’s strengths as a trainer. Benavidez’s 64 percent KO ratio is decent, but he has struggled to finish opponents while moving up in his level of competition.
In Benavidez’s last fight in July, against Francisco Santana, Benavidez looked extremely impressive at moments. His combinations were crisp and accurate. However, Santana continued to wade through them.
I will give Santana a large part of the credit for that. He is a tough SOB. He has been stopped in just one of his five losses, against Karim Mayfield back in 2009.
My bigger concern about Benavidez in that fight was not necessarily the fact that he failed to stop Santana, but that he did not fight a particularly intelligent fight. A fighter with his length and technical skill should have used the entire ring, but he spent long periods of time camping on the ropes. That allowed Santana to make things much more competitive than they should have been.
Still, Jose Benavidez showed championship potential in that bout, as he has consistently. It will be very unfortunate if we have seen the last of him.