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Benavidez stops Paez Jr; Orozco defeats Taylor

By Dan Ambrose: Fresh off his very controversial 12 round decision win over Mauricio Herrera last December, the Top Rank promoted interim WBA light welterweight champion Jose Benavidez Jr. (23-0, 16 KOs) stayed unbeaten with a relatively easy 12th round knockout win over the smaller 5’7” Jorge Piaz Jr. (38-6-2, 23 KOs) on Friday night at the US Airway Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

The 5’11” Benavidez, who appeared to lose his last fight in getting a gift decision over Herrera, had his way at the little Piaz Jr. in dropping him with a left to the head in the 12th. The 27-year-old Paez Jr. got back to his feet but he staggered as the referee Raul Caiz Jr. checked him out. This led to the fight being stopped at 0:21 of the round. The stork-like 5’11” Benavidez had previously nailed Paez Jr. with two right hooks followed by a left to the head that put him down for the knockdown.

In the last seconds of the 11th, Benavidez hurt Paez with a right hand top the head. The round ended just when Benavidez went for the kill. It was pretty clear that Paez Jr. wasn’t going to be able to clear his head enough in between rounds to have a chance of surviving the 12th.

Benavidez is a decent fighter, but he clearly isn’t at the level of the best guys in the 140 pound division like Lucas Matthysse, Lamont Peterson, Danny Garcia, Ruslan Provodnikov, Chris Algieri, Terence Crawford, Viktor Postol, Jessie Vargas, Thomas Dulorme, Herrera, Adrien Broner, Humberto Soto or Khabib Allakhverdiev. Benavidez was very lucky to get the controversial win over Herrera, but he doesn’t rate in my view as an interim champion. As soon as he faces someone good with some excellent judges, I see him losing.

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In other action on the card, unbeaten #9 IBF light welterweight contender Antonio Orozco (22-0, 15 KOs) defeated Emanuel Taylor (18-4, 12 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision. Orozco, an inside fighter, pressured Taylor constantly at close range in the first seven rounds to build up a significant lead, and he then was able to survive the last five rounds after he ran out of gas. The final judges’ scores were 96-94, 96-94 and 98-92. I had Orozco barely winning the fight due to the way he totally gassed out in the last five rounds. He had a nick under his right eye, and clearly was wilting in the final half of the fight from Taylor’s superior power and aggression.

I don’t know where Orozco can go in the 140 pound division. He’s not a big enough puncher to beat the top fighters in the division, and if he tries to pressure the big sluggers like Matthysse, Garcia and Provodnikov the way he did with Taylor, he’ll get knocked out. Lamont Peterson is a far better fighter as well, and I think he would destroy Orozco. At best, I see Orozco as a fringe level guy who will win some close decisions against guys at Taylor’s level, but who will be obliterated by the top guys in the division.

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