Jose Benavidez Jr. could have traveled in a straight line to the target pursued by his next opponent.
The former interim junior welterweight titlist and welterweight title challenger instead chose to gamble on himself in belief that he could have his cake and eat it too.
A future showdown with secondary WBA middleweight titlist Erislandy Lara is seemingly at stake for the winner of the July 30 Showtime headliner between Phoenix’s Benavidez and former two-division titlist Danny Garcia (36-3, 21KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. A fight with Lara was once on the table for Benavidez (27-1-1, 18KOs) earlier this year, though offered at a time when he wasn’t in position to put in a full training camp.
Instead came what he viewed as the more desirable option.
“I just want to fight the best of the best, that’s what I’m here for,” Benavidez told BoxingScene.com. “I don’t duck or dodge anyone. [Premier Boxing Champions] offered me Erislandy Lara. They offered me Danny Garcia. Of course, I’m gonna fight Danny. He’s the best of the best.”
The fight represents the junior middleweight debut for Philadelphia’s Garcia, though who returns to familiar grounds in what will be his ninth career appearance at Barclays. Benavidez fights for the first time at Barclays and anywhere in New York, a scenario that could have taken place on the building’s most recent show.
Benavidez was poised as the opponent of choice for Lara as part of the Gervonta Davis-Rolando Romero Showtime Pay-Per-View event this past May 28. Benavidez—the older brother of former two-time super middleweight titlist and current interim titleholder David Benavidez—sensed that it was merely a cashout opportunity and not a full investment into his future.
Interestingly, such a fight is a stated target for Garcia in his quest to claim three-division title status. The Philly native mentioned the possibility of fighting Lara at a 155-pound catchweight, assuming he first gets past Benavidez who is coming off a disappointing draw in his Phoenix homecoming last November 13.
In fact, it’s been more than four years since the last win was posted by Benavidez. A pair of victories came of his 2018 comeback after surviving a 2016 shooting that left him with a damaged right knee that he long ago accepted will never one hundred percent fully heal.
Since the two comeback wins have come a 12th round stoppage loss to three-division and WBO welterweight champ Terence Crawford in October 2018 and ten-round draw with Francisco Javier Torres last November. Still, the 30-year-old believes there is still plenty of fight left in his career. Armed with a full camp to prepare a future Hall of Famer, the belief heading into July 30 is that the performance he plans to deliver will allow everything else will fall into place.
“That’s why I wanted Danny,” insists Benavidez. “He’s the best of the best. Of course, I’d want to fight him, he’s the perfect pick for my next opponent.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox