December 14, 2014

The KO Digest Scoring & Analysis of Mauricio Herrera vs Jose Benavidez

Did Herrera get robbed again?
By Jeffrey Freeman — Hard luck junior welterweight Mauricio Herrera can't seem to catch a break or win an important fight in 2014.  Last March in Puerto Rico, Herrera (21-5, 7 KOs) was victimized by hometown scoring against Danny Garcia in a bid for Garcia's unified 140 lb championship. Herrera lost a controversial majority decision to Golden Boy's "Swift" Garcia that most ringside observers felt he deserved to win. Following that debacle, Herrera won a majority decision over Johan Perez in July. Incredibly, one of the judges, Max DeLuca, scored the Perez bout a draw when by all accounts it looked as though Herrera, 34, was a clear winner. Then last night at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Herrera came up short in another key match-up, this time against Jose Benavidez, an undefeated 22-year-old prospect (22-0, 15 KOs) signed with Bob Arum's Top Rank promotions. Boxing's promotional cold war continues to thaw but in the peace process, politics still plays a big part in who gets what and when. KO Digest takes a closer look at the controversial fight, round-by-round, to determine who really won and what the fuss was all about. Was Herrera robbed again? It sure looked that way.

Round 1: Benavidez is taller and fitter than Herrera but looks can sometimes be deceiving. It's a battle of the jabs early in a feeling out round fought with a pace to set the distance between the two boxers in the ring. A snappy one-two from Herrera connects well on the dangling chin of Benavidez. Jabs to the body from Herrera land square in the breadbasket of Benavidez while the younger fighter struggled to find the target with his rangy long punches. (Herrera wins the opening round 10-9)

Round 2: Benavidez starts off the round with slap happy punches at a distance but isn't so happy when Herrera pressures him into the ropes and rakes his body. Benavidez holds on under attack and then resets the distance but can't maintain it or take advantage of it. Herrera's timing with the jab is superior and he has Benavidez covering up on the ropes from punches. Benavidez answered with a strong left hand to the body in the middle of the ring but it wasn't enough to win the round. (Herrera round 10-9)

The jab to the body was a good weapon for Herrera
Round 3: Herrera continued to press the action in the third, disrupting the ability of Benavidez to keep the fight on the outside where he wants it. A close round to call but it was Herrera who was able to do more of what he wanted to do which included a consistent attack to the body. (Herrera round 10-9)  

Round 4: The pattern of the first three rounds kept up in the fourth with Benavidez trying to control the fight on the outside with his jab and reach but Herrera simply refused to stand there and get beat. Herrera is winning the exchanges on the inside and forcing Benavidez to cover up and look uncomfortable while backing up away from a fight. (Herrera round 10-9)   

Round 5: Benavidez was having a good start to the round standing his ground and landing well but a left hook from Herrera put him right back on his bicycle or with his back on the ropes. Herrera's jab to the body was better than Benadvidez's jab to the head, a clear sign of just how well Herrera is timing his opponent and setting him up for rough stuff inside. (Herrera round 10-9)

Benavidez rallied in the sixth and seventh
Round 6: It looked like Herrera was taking the round off but Benavidez still couldn't control the action decisively from his preferred distance and it didn't take Herrera much effort at all to put Benavidez right back on the ropes where he pounded away to the body. In the last minute of the round, Benavidez started landing some solid jabs to the face that opened up Herrera for some effective follow-up flurries. (Benavidez round 10-9)

Round 7: Strong start to the round from Benavidez as he ripped Herrera with combinations in the middle of the ring before going back to the ropes where Herrera's effectiveness was apparently diminishing until late in the round when he roughed up Benavidez well. Close round to call but that's two in a row now for Benavidez. (Benavidez round 10-9)

Herrera was more effective on the inside
Round 8: Familiar pattern with Benavidez trying to box and keep the distance while Herrera puts him on the ropes to work him over.  This dynamic is clearly what Herrera would prefer to have happen and he is winning the battle of wills for position in the ring.  A looping lead right hand from Herrera landed flush to the chin and if there was any question about who won the round, that punch answered it. (Herrera round 10-9)

Round 9: Benavidez controlled the early part of the round with his jab and he ripped a left to the body. That didn't keep Herrera off him or Benavidez off the ropes. From this position, Herrera outworked Benavidez in the trenches to win another round via his dogged persistence. (Herrera round 10-9)

Round 10: Good start for Benavidez who flips the script on Herrera by punishing him along the ropes. This didn't last long and the script was flipped again back in favor of Herrera who did his best work downstairs while Benavidez languished on the ropes only throwing one punch at a time, or just a jab or two when he got off the ropes. Herrera is fighting harder, better, and more effectively. (Herrera round 10-9)

The politics of pugilism at play
Round 11: The championship rounds were deep waters for Benavidez, a prospect who had never previously gone past eight rounds. Even from the outside, Herrera was beginning to out-land Benavidez and on the inside it was no contest, all Herrera. At this point, Herrera has the Benavidez puzzle solved and he's having fun proving it. (Herrera round 10-9)

Round 12: Last stand for Benavidez who was told in the corner by his father that he needed a knockout to win. Entertaining toe-to-toe exchanges and more of the same on the ropes favor Benavidez but to an impartial observer, it looked like a case of too little, too late. (Benavidez round 10-9)

KO Digest scored the fight 117-111 (9-3) for Mauricio Herrera.

Official Scores: 117-111, 116-112, and 116-112 for Jose Benavidez.