On Saturday July 23, welterweight and former WBA super lightweight interim champion Jose Benavidez Jr (24-0, 16 KO) will face Francisco Santana (24-4-1, 12 KO). RealSport spoke with a fighter who definitely has something to prove.
RealSport: You’ve come a long way since defeating Mauricio Herrera and moving up to welterweight. What has been your biggest career challenge since moving up?
Jose Benavidez Jr.: I haven’t really had a lot of time at this weight class yet, in terms of having a challenge. I’m more comfortable at this weight, and I feel like I will be even more successful at welterweight than I was at super lightweight. I treat every fight as if I’m fighting for a world title. I don’t underestimate anyone.
RS: A lot is expected of you due to your pedigree and what you’ve been able to accomplish in the ring. How do the high expectations motivate you?
JB: It motivates me because I get to fight on these big cards. I get to fight on pay-per-view. I’m motivated because I get to showcase my talent and all the hard work I have put in this camp. I had a great camp, and I can’t wait to be one of the best fights that night. I’m ready to fight right now!
RS: You brought your strength and conditioning coach back for the Santana fight. How has this impacted your preparation, compared to where you were against Sidney Siqueira?
JB: I feel stronger with him by my side. I’m ready to show the world that I’m ready and strong at 147[lbs]. I will be beating people at 147.
RS: You’ve been calling out Terence Crawford for a while. What do you need to do against Santana to solidify that matchup for you?
JB: I have been calling him out for the longest time. I have called him out at least three times, and he keeps dodging me. If he wants to move to 147, I will fight and beat him. He’s obviously scared to fight me.
RS: You don’t strike me as a cat guy, but you have an exotic pet. How did you end up with this Savannah cat? Who’s taking care of her during camp?
JB: Her name is Athena and I take care of her. Savannahs don’t really need a lot of attention. I clean her litter box and feed her (nothing but raw red meat) three times a day. I can’t have a tiger so she’s the closest thing I could get to something exotic. I brought her with me to Las Vegas.
RS: The Olympics are coming up. Claressa Shields caught some by surprise last time. She’s the favorite in Rio. What are your thoughts on women in boxing on the heels of what Ronda Rousey and others have done in MMA?
JB: I think it’s good that she’s doing so well in boxing. I wish women in boxing could be as big in the sport as Ronda Rousey in MMA. I think it would bring more people to boxing. That would be good for everyone.
RS: You’ve been quoted as saying, “I want to prove a point” in this fight. What does that mean for fight fans?
JB: There are a lot of people out there that talk trash, and say that I’m not what I used to be. There won’t be any more room for discussion after this fight. I’m coming for the best fighters in the welterweight division.
Jose will be fighting on the undercard of Top Rank’s “Hands of Stone” Terence Crawford vs. Viktor Postol championship match this Saturday July 23, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. HBO pay-per-view kicks off at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT.
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