The ultra-talented boxer-puncher makes his anticipated return to the ring against Francisco Emanuel Torres Saturday night at Footprint Center in Phoenix, live on PBC on SHOWTIME.
Jose Benavidez Jr. needed the time. The 29-year-old from Panorama City, California, has been boxing since he was six. He never really got a chance to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with his family. He missed special moments, but he was there when his two-year-old daughter took her first steps and said her first words.
On Saturday night, Benavidez is going to be rejoining one of his great joys—boxing again, when he comes back from a two-year hiatus in the co-feature of a Premier Boxing Champions event on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) against Argentina’s Francisco Emanuel Torres at the Time Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Their 10-round super welterweight bout falls under the main event, featuring former undefeated two-time super middleweight world champion David Benavidez, Jose’s younger brother, against 168-pound contender Kyrone Davis in a 10-round bout.
This will mark the first time Jose Jr. (27-1, 18 KOs) is fighting since his 12-round TKO loss to WBO world welterweight champion Terence Crawford in October 2018. He was still recovering from an unfortunate gun-shot wound to his right leg in August 2016, which could have jeopardized his career.
To say Jose Jr. had been through life’s tormented crucible would be understatement.
He embraced a break.
“Growing up, I never really had time to relax and hang out and enjoy time with my family and my friends,” Jose Jr. said. “Everyone needs a little time off; I know I needed it. The night I lost to Crawford, I just lost to a better fighter that night. I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t happy. But I fought with one leg, and learned more and matured more.
“Weak-minded people go through extremes and lock themselves in their rooms and run away after losses. I didn’t do that. Just because you lose, it doesn’t mean you hit rock bottom. All-time greats lose. Muhammad Ali lost. Sugar Ray Leonard lost. Oscar De La Hoya lost. I feel strong and I feel ready for this fight.
“I just needed a break.”
Benavidez has had a pair of boxing gloves on since he was six. The grinder was the many training camps, dieting, and the morning runs, pounding asphalt, and countless sparring sessions. It can be wearing psychologically.
“If boxing was easy, everyone would do it,” Jose Jr. said. “I needed time to step back and think. I’ve been doing it for 24 years, and I needed a break from work. I see my two little girls in the gym with me boxing, and they love it, and I have another daughter on the way (due in late February).
“ I needed to take a big look at the things I did. ” Super Welterweight Contender - Jose Benavidez Jr.
“I needed to take a big look at the things I did. I’m in a stable place now in my life.”
Five years ago, he wasn’t.
Five years ago, doctors told him he may never fight again, after a bullet cut through the femoral artery above his right knee on August 22, 2016.
It forced Benavidez to take a deep self-inventory.
He had to step back from what he was doing and from who was with.
Decisions like that do not come easy.
“Doctors told me it would take five, to six years to walk again,” Benavidez said. “I fought Crawford with one leg. It took 12 rounds for him to beat me. When I look back at that, God works in mysterious ways.
“That whole incident made me change my life. It made me a stronger person. It made me mature. It made me realize that you can lose your life in the blink of an eye. I wouldn’t see my wife or my daughters again. I stopped hanging around people that I shouldn’t have been hanging out with in the first place.
“When you’re younger, you think that you have a lot of friends, and you treat them like family, but they’re not really your friends. In life, there are things and people that you go through, but if I the chance to change being shot, believe it or not, I wouldn’t.
“It forced me to change everything. I got shot, I fell and got back up again. I should have done things different.”
Jose Jr. says he and brother, David, want to make everyone remember the name “Benavidez” in the history books. Boxing has been a part of him, because it corralled the negative energy he used as a young kid fighting in the streets.
Jose Jr. says he doesn’t know much about Torres (17-3, 5 KOs). The 32-year-old has been stopped once, by Sebastian Horacio Papeschi in September 2017. Since then, Torres has won nine-straight fights.
This will mark the first time in six years that the Benavidez brothers are on the same card together, when Jose Jr. was the main event beating Jorge Paez Jr. in May 2015 at the US Airway Centre, in Phoenix, and David was the co-feature.
“I have everyone around me and this is back home,” Jose Jr. said. “What everyone is going to see on Saturday night is a beast. I don’t let my leg injury get to me. I can run. I have scars on both legs since I needed tissue from my left leg to heal my right leg. I feel stronger than ever. There is no doubt in my mind that I’m going to break this guy’s ribs or his jaw.
“I want to show everybody that I’m back.”
For a closer look at Jose Benavidez Jr, check out his fighter page.