Jose Benavidez Jr. knew his unreliable right leg would impact his performance at some point the longer his welterweight title fight against Terence Crawford lasted.
Benavidez noticeably favored that leg, which was damaged during an unsolved shooting in August 2016, in the later rounds of his 12th-round, technical-knockout defeat to the undefeated Crawford in October 2018. The former 147-pound contender hasn’t fought in the nearly three years since Crawford stopped him in Omaha, Nebraska, Crawford’s hometown.
The 29-year-old Benavidez’s leg feels “better” now than it did when he encountered Crawford, but the Phoenix native admits it still isn’t quite right as he prepares for his return to the ring November 13.
“I’ll be lying to you if I tell you it’s a hundred percent, because it’s never gonna be a hundred percent,” Benavidez told BoxingScene.com. “I have rods and screws in my leg, but what has been helping me out a lot during my time off is I found a way how I can help myself. I actually came up with my own hemp cream for my leg. It’s a recovery cream. So, I’ve been using that a lot. It’s helping me. Like I said, I’m not gonna sell a lie to anyone and say it made my leg a hundred percent. But I feel like it’s helping me.
“I try not to think about my leg when I fight because if I have a doubt in my head, if I say, ‘Well, what if my leg doesn’t hold up,’ I already beat myself. So, I try to have no doubts. I have no doubts when I go in the ring. All I think about is how I’m gonna win, how I’m gonna tear this guy apart. That’s all I think about.”
Argentina’s Francisco Torres (17-3, 5 KOs) will play the role of “this guy” when Benavidez (27-1, 18 KOs) ends a three-year layoff in a 10-rounder November 13 at Footprint Center, the home arena of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Showtime will broadcast Benavidez-Torres as the co-feature the same night former WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez (24-0, 21 KOs), Jose’s younger brother, will face Venezuelan veteran Jose Uzcategui (31-4, 26 KOs) in the 12-round main event.
The Benavidez brothers were supposed to be showcased in this event August 28 at the same venue, but it was postponed because David Benavidez tested positive for COVID-19 early in August. His older brother is looking forward to making his debut as a full-fledged junior middleweight on his undercard.
“You know, it feels good to be back on the scene, where I’m fighting,” Jose Benavidez Jr. said. “I never left the scene. I mean, I haven’t fought in three years, but I still went to gyms, still kept working out. But I just feel good, you know, that I’m gonna fight in Phoenix, Arizona, in front of my hometown, and fight alongside my brother. It’s motivating. You know, I can’t wait. There’s gonna be fireworks. There’s gonna be a big bang that night.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.