Athletes always have to deal with ailments and injuries throughout their career.
Boxers are no different. While they prepare through hours of intense training and conditioning for a fight, boxers have to deal with injuries, both new and old.
Jose Benavidez is a perfect example. A young welterweight who enjoys competition, he had to deal with lingering hand issues that prevented him from excelling as best he could.
After some rest, he is now eager to continue on a journey toward a world title.
First things first, he has to deal with veteran Henry Aurad at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix on Saturday night. The bout will headline a “Solo Boxeo” broadcast that will be televised on UniMas.
Since making his professional debut in January 2010 until October 2012, Benavidez fought a total of 17 times, 10 in 2010 alone. While he was living up to the notion that young fighters should fight often, few people knew of a problem Benavidez had faced in recent fights.
Benavidez (20-0, 14 KOs) was fighting with injuries to his right hand. It got to the point where he and his team decided to have surgery performed. Recovery from the surgery would take several months, but it was well worth it for the 22-year-old.
“It was frustrating not fighting because of a broken hand,” said Benavidez. “I would injure it in my last three or four fights up to that point and we decided to go through surgery and rest. I would get frustrated that I wasn’t fighting, but it turned into motivation because I feel hungrier and stronger now that I’m back.”
After 13 months away from the ring, Benavidez returned to action on November 16, stopping Abraham Alvarez in the second round. He has had two more fights, the last being a one-sided, six-round unanimous decision over Angel Hernandez on May 17 in Fresno, Calif.
Against Aurad, Benavidez will fight for the first time in his hometown in almost three years, something he has looked forward to on top of staying active.
“I’m very happy fighting again in my hometown,” Benavidez told RingTV over the phone on Monday. “I’ve been training my ass off and I want to give the fans a good show.”
Benavidez was scheduled to face Armen Ovsepyan on Saturday night, but the fight fell through. After a number of replacements backed out, Aurad took the fight on a few days’ notice.
Regardless of who he faces, Benavidez almost always take the same approach. Even while he was on the mend from the surgery, he would watch fights on television, envisioning how each bout would play out.
“My game plan is to see what each fighter has in the first round,” said Benavidez, who is promoted by Top Rank. “I look to see what he has and try to feel the guy out.
Having laced up gloves since he was 6, Benavidez sparred against elite fighters when he was temporarily based in Los Angeles, training at the famed Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.
While he is now based and lives in his hometown of Phoenix, Benavidez still credits the rounds he sparred at the Wild Card.
“I really benefitted from sparring out at Wild Card. I would spar against (Amir) Khan, (Manny) Pacquiao. It really motivated me because I know I was getting better because of those sessions.”
Should Benavidez get the victory over Aurad, it will be interesting to see what Top Rank has in store for him. The promotional company does a stellar job of developing young fighters and it almost seems as though Benavidez is a fight or so away from fighting in 10-round bouts or against modest opposition for regional title belts.
Regardless, Benavidez is a pro’s pro, prepping in the gym and waiting to compete when called upon.
“Whatever Top Rank has for me, I’ll be ready.”
Considering what he has gone through, Benavidez is chomping at the bit to seek bigger and better. While Aurad stands in the way, he never takes his career or what has happened to him for granted.
It is a learning experience in every aspect, in and out of the ring.
“You always learn something new. I believe when you stop learning, that’s when you lose. I had a break and I want to keep fighting.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing