If it wasn’t already apparent, on Wednesday it was made clear that Jose Benavidez Jr. and Terence Crawford do not like each other.

The two had their media workouts in Omaha ahead of their ESPN-televised title clash — a fight in which Benavidez is a sizable underdog. Video captured the two exchanging unpleasantries that don’t need to be repeated here, including racially-charged comments. But one thing for certain is that this isn’t a work the way many feel Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury’s circus of a press tour was last week. The hate is genuine.

Doctors told Benavidez it would be a couple of years before he was able to walk like normal again, and that he would never box again. Just two years later, he is fighting one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the sport.

“it’s been a long road with ups and downs and, of course, I was sad at the beginning but you put your mind to something you will overcome any obstacle,” Benavidez said of the incident. “Right when I was able to walk a bit, I started training. The doctors told me I wasn’t going to be able to walk right for years and I would never again box. But like I said, just because someone tells you something, doesn’t mean it’s right.”

Ironically, Benavidez’s foe Crawford has his own story of being shot. Before I could even finish bringing it up, Benavidez cut me off.

“I don’t even care about what has happened to him,” Benavidez said indignantly. “A lot of people mention that — I don’t care anything about him. He’s already been talking a lot of trash. We’ll see in the ring who is talking trash afterwards.”

It occurred to me that Benavidez has never disliked an opponent this much before, and Wednesday’s media workouts nailed that point home. I asked him if this is the most disdain he’s had for the guy who he’ll look across the ring at.

“At the end of the day, everyone can be friends outside the ring but in the ring is a different story,” Benavidez said. “But with Terence, I don’t like him. I simply don’t like him. He wants to talk sh-t, we’ll see how big and bad he is in the ring.”

Benavidez talked like a guy with a chip on his shoulder. He had a storied amateur career, including becoming the youngest national Golden Gloves champion ever at 17. He sparred with Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan when he was just a teenager. Yet Benavidez is a 17-to-1 underdog on Saturday night in their ESPN-televised main event. That’s fuel for him.

Jose Benavidez Jr.
Jose Benavidez Jr.
Benavidez is 27-0 with 18 knockouts. Before he was shot, Benavidez scored a good win, a 10-round decision over fringe contender Francisco Santana in July of 2016. Santana was a good test — he had beaten undefeated prospects before and is a tough out.

A year-and-a-half earlier, he won a clear 12-round decision over former title challenger Mauricio Herrera just nine months after Herrera gave Danny Garcia everything he could handle. He’s proven he at least belongs in the ring with the top guys, and Crawford’s dismissal nature when it comes to Benavidez has pissed him off.

“I’m going to shut him up, that’s for sure,” Benavidez said. “He’s going to talk all this trash, saying I’m a nobody. He’s fought nobody. He can’t say he’s the pound-for-pound best at 147 pounds when he’s fought no one. Postol was a nobody. Beltran was old. All the guys he’s beat — Horn is a nobody.”

Benavidez has a luxury few other fighters do — his younger brother David is championship-level as well. David became the youngest 168-pound titleholder in history last year but was named champion in recess when he was popped for having cocaine in his system. The two brothers have been each other’s biggest support systems, along with their father Jose Sr.

Boxing is something Jose Jr. knew he wanted to do for a living since he was six years old. On Saturday, he gets his opportunity to beat Crawford in front of his hometown fans. He’s been counted out by everyone, but this is nothing new for the fighter.

“People have always been doubting me my whole life,” Benavidez said. “It doesn’t make a difference. If anything it just motivates me and I’m the biggest underdog there’s been this year. Everyone thinks this is going to be an easy fight for Crawford but little do they know everyone is sleeping on me. On October 13 they’re going to wake up because there is going to be a new champion in town.”

Source: Mark Ortega