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Introducing Jose Benavidez Jr.

On Saturday night, Top Rank's newest blue chip prospect, Jose Benavidez Jr., made his professional debut.  Those of you who were able to watch the debut of Top Rank's new boxing show saw a 17-year old kid, skinny as imaginable, take out a hapless opponent with one punch.  Benavidez tracked down his prey, and shot off a show jab, followed up by a hard right hand that broke his opponent's nose, from which the hand-picked opponent never recovered.

While there are a hundred questions that need to get answered about any blue chip prospect who is just starting out - does he have the heart, can he build the stamina, does he have a decent chin, is he willing to put in the work - it seems that Benavidez has the tools to make some serious noise if the intangibles are there.  He's a rail thin 6'0" with a 74" reach, both of which are well above average for a junior welterweight.  In an interview, co-trainer Freddie Roach said he thinks that Benavidez will eventually end up at light middleweight or middleweight once his body fills out.  In the meantime, he towers over most light welterweight fighters, and if he can learn to use that reach, he'll have a major advantage.

In addition to his size, he shows very good handspeed for someone with such long arms.  He also has a good understanding of both work ethic and fundamentals.  His father, Jose Benavidez Sr., is a trainer in the Phoenix area, and has been training Benavidez since he was six years old.  This upbringing has led to an almost innate grounding in the sport that you rarely see in fighters other than those who were raised in the sport.  Finally, it seems like the production may be there as well.  He won the national golden gloves tournament at the age of 16, becoming the youngest ever national champion at the weight.  Since Roach agreed to take on Benavidez, he's been sparring some of the other fighters at Wild Card, and Freddie's on the record as both saying that Benavidez is his best prospect (which presumably includes guys like Guillermo Rigondeaux and Vanes Martirosyan) and that Benavidez sparred "dead even" with Amir Khan.

In case you're interested, here's a fulffy (but well produced) promo piece on Benavidez from before he turned pro.

If you're interested in more background, Elie Seckbach interviewed Benavidez, his father and Freddie Roach a couple months ago, which interview is available here.

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