Brandon Benitez defeats Xu Can via split decision on Friday
Featherweight Brandon Benitez scored the biggest win of his career thus far, defeating Xu Can via split decision Friday night at White Sands Event Center, in Plant City, Florida.
One judge scored the bout 97-93 for Can, while the other two scored the bout 96-94 for Benitez, who improves to 19-2, 7 knockouts.
Benitez, who resides in Queretaro, Mexico, was effective early on in the fight, mixing his attack against Can. Benitez took the initiative, connecting with lead and counter right hands to Can’s head. The amount of punches Benitez landed bloodied Can’s nose in the second round.
Can never seemed to find any rhythm during the first half of the fight, partly due to the long layoff since his stoppage loss to Leigh Wood on July 31 of last year.
Sensing he was down on the scorecards late in the fight, Can increased his punch output. This coincided with Benitez slowing down considerably, as his punch output dropped. As Can closed the distance during the final two rounds, Benitez fought off his back foot, countering Can with hooks to the body and right hands to the head.
The loss to Benitez certainly takes Can out of any world title considerations. The 28-year-old, who resides in Beijing, China, and had a partisan crowd in attendance, drops to 18-4, 3 KOs.
Can’s popularity and following was apparent on the ProBox TV app, which streamed the fight. The streaming service announced Friday that its app was downloaded over 250,000 times this past week alone.
The 24-year-old Benitez had not fought since a unanimous decision victory over prospect Anthony Chavez on December 17. He has won his last five bouts since losing to Saul Sanchez in May 2019.
Fringe middleweight contender Kanat Islam defeated late-sub Javier Maciel by unanimous decision.
All three judges at ringside scored the bout 80-71 in favor of Islam, who improved to 29-1, 22 KOs.
Friday was Islam’s first fight since losing by majority decision to Jimmy Kelly, on February 25. Against Maciel, Islam was effective in taking the initiative from the opening bell. Islam let his hands go with more frequency, connecting to the head and body behind an effective jab.
Maciel was game, at times connecting with a lead right to Islam’s head, but Islam was in control throughout much of the fight, content to get rounds in under new trainer Rogelio Romo.
Islam did hurt Maciel late in the final round, dropping Maciel to the canvas with a barrage of punches. Maciel managed to beat the count and survived until the final bell sounded.
Maciel, who is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and now resides in Deerfield Beach, Florida, drops to 34-18, 22 KOs.
Middleweight prospect Darrelle Valsaint, of nearby Orlando, dropped Paul Mendez twice en route to a second round knockout victory.
Valsaint, who represented Haiti at the 2021 Olympic Games, in Tokyo, improved to 6-0, 5 KOs.
The 20-year-old dropped Mendez with a left hook upstairs. Moments later, Valsaint dropped Mendez again with a counter left hook to the head. Referee Gene Del Bianco immediately stopped the bout at 2:28.
“I want to fight guys with a lot of experience,” said Valsaint after the fight. “That will help me get better and develop as a fighter.”
Mendez, who resides in Delano, California, drops to 21-4-2, 11 KOs.
In the opening bout of the ProBox TV broadcast, junior welterweight prospect Cesar Francis, who is originally from Panama and now resides in Brooklyn, New York, improved to 12-0, 7 KOs by stopping Francisco Armenta.
A right uppercut to the head of the shorter Armenta dropped him flat onto the canvas. Referee Gene Del Bianco immediately stopped the fight at 29 seconds.
Armenta, who is originally from Los Mochis, Mexico, and now resides in Orange, California, drops to 12-2, 4 KOs.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing