Wednesday, November 30, 2022  |


Jose Benavidez Jr. stops Jorge Paez Jr. in 12th round


PHOENIX, Ariz. – It was a fight stamped with a promise. A guarantee, actually.

Jose Benavidez Jr. made good on the guarantee, keeping the WBA’s interim 140-pound title in his hometown Friday night with a 12th-round stoppage of Jorge Paez Jr. in a truTV bout at US Airways Center.

Benavidez, who boldly vowed a victory Wednesday at a news conference, retained his first significant title in his first defense. It was a solid win for the unbeaten Benavidez, who celebrated his 23rd birthday with his 23rd victory. It wasn’t always spectacular.

Yet, it ended with an exclamation point, a short left hand that lifted Paez up and then onto the canvas. Paez scrambled to his feet. But he was as unsteady as a kid trying to walk on a trampoline. When he stumbled into the ropes, referee Raul Caiz Jr. ended at 21 seconds of the round.

“I knew I would beat him,” said Benavidez (23-0, 16 KOs), who also knocked down Paez (38-6-2-1, 23 KOs) with a right uppercut to the body in the third round. “I mean, there was no way I was going to lose my title in my hometown. No way, no way at all.

“But I have to say that Paez was really, really tough. Man, he can take a punch. I didn’t think there was any way he’d get up after that knockdown the third. But there he was, up on his feet and coming back at me.”

Paez, whose dad was a flamboyant featherweight champion and a clown in the Mexican circus, said he never saw the final punch coming. It landed, he said, when he turned his head after sustaining an inadvertent thumb to an eye from Benavidez.

Benavidez often fought off the ropes, which was a tactic he used in controversial decision over Mauricio Herrera for the title last December in Las Vegas.

“I wanted to tire him out some,” Benavidez said. “I figured that if I could do that, I’d knock him out in a later round.”

The 6-foot Benavidez wasn’t sure how much longer he would stay at 140 pounds.

“I’m kind of big to be at 140,” he said. “But we’ll see. I’m willing to fight anybody at 140 or 147.”

He has talked about Jessie Vargas, who faces Timothy Bradley on June 27. Bradley was at ringside as a truTV analyst.

“I thought Jose looked great,” Bradley said. “Yeah, he does fight a lot off those ropes. But he’s good at it.”

In the first bout on a truTV doubleheader , Antonio Orozco, a junior welterweight from San Diego, lived up to the nickname written in gold across his dark trucks throughout a unanimous decision over Emmanuel Taylor. Relentless summed up the pace and style of a stubborn, often deliberate attack sustained by Orozco (22-0, 15 KOs), who won a 96-94, 98-92, 96-94 on the scorecards.

Taylor (18-4, 12 KOs), of Baltimore, was at his best when he worked his stinging jab. But he didn’t work it enough.

Blood above Orozco’s swollen right eye appeared after the eighth round. By then, however, it was too late for Taylor to overcome the well-conditioned Orozco, who stayed on his toes and protected his advantage on the cards with a fundamental execution of body blows.