Jose Benavidez, Jr. may be popular in Arizona, but he’s annoying to watch fight, backing up to the ropes for dumb reasons like he did Friday night on TruTV in an otherwise easy fight vs Jorge Paez, Jr. At least we had the undercard fight to make it all worthwhile, a power punch fiesta between the divergent styles of victor Antonio Orozco and Emmanuel Taylor.
Junior welterweight contender Benavidez, fighting on his home turf of Phoenix, demonstrated that he doesn’t just languish against the ropes when a good fighter, Mauricio Herrera, tricks him into going there. He does it because, he said, it helps him see the punches landing, although Paez couldn’t land any punches otherwise. With his length, speed and power, Benavidez is perfectly suited to do big damage in the middle of the ring, working his jab or even firing long-range uppercuts to the belly like he did in the 3rd round to deck Paez, who didn’t really want to continue after that but the ref didn’t stop it, so he did. The only rounds Paez even came close to winning were when Benavidez deliberately walked to the perimeter. It’s confounding and annoying. Benavidez finally won it in the 12th with a showy right/left hook combo that dropped Paez and left him stumbling when he rose.
The people of Phoenix can keep Benavidez, if they want him after this. He has physical tools but he does a lot of dumb things — standing and posing, fighting too upright, you name it. Unless he significantly improves, he will struggle against any contenders over whom he has a world of genetic advantages.
The TruTV matchmaking has looked pretty good otherwise, and Orozco-Taylor was another example. Orozco and Taylor delivered a far better rumble in the junior welterweight division Friday. Orozco came out churning, working Taylor to the body, with Taylor engaging foolishly on the inside but doing damage with his uppercut. Taylor started to figure things out in the mid-early rounds, deciding to move, jab and box, all while landing the occasional hard counter. Orozco re-adjusted, picking his spots to fire and work his way inside, even hurting Taylor toward the end of the 4th. Taylor, late, began to reestablish himself by moving forward and busting up Orozco. The final round was tight, with Orozco landing some nice power punches and Taylor controlling with his jab.
The final scorecard had two legit numbers — 96-94 for Orozco, times two — and one terrible one, 98-92. That last one should be ignored. It was a damn good fight, and Orozco and Taylor both should remain TV staples.