Jose Benavidez Jr took the long route to get the job done, but he dominated and stopped Jorge Paez Jr tonight in Phoenix in the truTV Friday Night Knockout main event, ending the fight at 0:21 of round 12.
Benavidez (23-0, 16 KO) spent much of the fight almost toying with the overmatched Paez (38-6-2, 23 KO), peppering him at distance and constantly backing himself to the ropes. That only betrayed Benavidez at all on one occasion, which came in the second round, as Paez unleashed punches in bunches to Benavidez's midsection, and the 23-year-old prospect didn't fire much back. In the end, that was the only round where Paez even had an argument for the mandatory 10 points.
In the third round, Benavidez ripped Paez with a shot to the body, which caused a delayed reaction and saw Paez willingly take a knee. He didn't respond when referee Raul Caiz Jr asked if he was good to continue, but Caiz let it go on, anyway, as Paez was up and steady enough, it seems. Benavidez briefly looked to close the show, but Paez survived the rush, and Benavidez went back to his more cautious approach.
As Benavidez continued laying against the ropes over the course of the fight, drawing the ire of color commentator Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, he countered well from there, rocking Paez's head around multiple times, and often landing good shots when he did eventually turn himself and head back to the center of the ring, more than once simply backing himself to a different part of the ropes.
Early in round 12, Benavidez came out firing, landing a right hand a left hook that dropped Paez again. This time when Paez didn't respond to Caiz upon getting back to his feet, he also stumbled into the ropes, and Caiz rightly stopped the one-sided fight.
Benavidez landed 248 of 710 (35%) total punches, with Paez landing 118 of 515 (23%). Power shots were wide, too, with Benavidez landing 118 of 511 (37%), compared to 111 of 468 (24%) for Paez, meaning that the shorter Paez only landed seven jabs.
It's hard to say it was really an impressive performance for Benavidez, however, as there was probably more bad than good in this fight. It was really a complete talent mismatch, with Benavidez a taller, longer fighter, and a blue chip sort of prospect, while Paez has long been a mediocre second generation fighter who has largely run up a paper-thin record and never been a contender. Mancini noted that this same strategy against a better fighter will get Benavidez "chewed up," and he's most likely right. This strategy didn't actually work against Mauricio Herrera last December, only for Herrera to get robbed in Las Vegas. There is a lot of talent in Benavidez, but a lot of cause for concern about his ceiling.
In a highly-entertaining co-feature battle, Antonio Orozco did enough to get past a tough test in Emmanuel Taylor, winning a 10-round unanimous decision on scores of 96-94, 96-94, and 98-92. BLH had it 95-95, with a couple of swing rounds going Taylor's way on our card. The 98-92 score card was certainly a little wide, but the 96-94 cards were just fine.
Orozco (22-0, 15 KO) started the fight very strong, bringing the pressure to Taylor (18-4, 12 KO) in the first half of the fight, and largely having his way. He was able to rip away to the body in the first few rounds especially, but once Taylor made an adjustment and started to move and box on the outside a bit more, the fight settled into a new rhythm.
To Orozco's credit, he adjusted nicely to Taylor's adjustment. The sixth round was a barnburner, with both guys landing big shots, trading the momentum a few times, and both seemingly getting hurt in the round, too. That was a round where Orozco's volume was greater, and Taylor arguably landed the better, cleaner shots on the whole. In the eighth round, they reversed roles, with Taylor the aggressor and Orozco boxing on the outside.
It appeared that down the stretch, a cut and swollen right eye bothered Orozco, 27, but in the 10th round, he closed the show nicely, going back to the pressure tactics and not letting Taylor get much done. For Taylor, 24, it's another bitter defeat, as he fought pretty well and the fighters put on a great show, but he came up short for the third time in his last four fights, all the losses against good competition in Chris Algieri, Adrien Broner, and now Orozco. Given his youth and the fact that he's got some high-level experience now, Taylor may have the ingredients to be a serious contender going forward. He's been in tough, he's lost some fights, and he could come out the other side more dangerous than ever. He's a good fighter already, and this work, even if it's frustrating for him to lose, might make him even better.
Orozco, of course, takes a really nice step forward with this fight. He had a good opponent who gave him some tough looks and took him deep. This was just the second time Orozco's had to go 10 rounds, and it was much tougher than when he shut out Martin Honorio a year ago.
For the fight, Orozco landed 201 of 776 (26%) of his punches, compared to Taylor's 170 of 586 (29%). The two were pretty even on power punches, Orozco going 133 of 462 (29%) and Taylor 116 of 392 (30%).