In the co-main event, Jermall Charlo returned to the ring for the first time in 29 months with a spirited, workmanlike and ultimately dominant performance against a very game and durable José Benavídez Jr., the older brother of David Benavídez in their 10-round non-title bout contracted at 163 pounds. Charlo, who holds the WBC middleweight title, was the much larger man, and he pushed Benavídez around the ring with his pole-like jab and hard right hands. It all added up to a wide decision for Charlo by scores of 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92 as Charlo remained undefeated at 33-0 with 22 KOs, while Benavídez dropped to 28-3-1 with 19 KOs. Charlo weighed in at 166.4 pounds at Friday’s weigh-in, compared to Benavídez at 161.2 pounds, but the fight was allowed to continue after both camps agreed. Charlo landed 116 of 334 total jabs for a 35% connect-rate and landed 127 of 279 power punches for a 46% clip.
“I’ll be back stronger, just know that,” Charlo said. “I thought about everything that I’ve been through every round. God’s got me. I want to thank everybody who never left my side. I want to thank Al Haymon for understanding me. I know when you’re a man it’s hard to explain to somebody what you stand for, but I’m happy that I went through what I went through because I showed myself that anything can be done.”
Benavídez, who was stopped by Terence Crawford in the 12th round for a welterweight title in 2018 and was an amateur prodigy, performed well against the larger foe, displaying a granite chin. But after a rusty first round, Charlo took control, exhibiting the skills that have made him one of the most entertaining and skilled fighters in the sport.
“He’s a good fighter, I’m not going to make any excuses,” Benavídez said. “I came to fight. He said he was going to back me up and I didn’t back up. I kept coming forward. The best man won tonight. It’s boxing. I thought it was way closer than the judges said it was. At the end of the day, I lost, and I’m not going to make any excuses. I don’t know if his extra weight had anything to do with it. Maybe. Maybe not. I came prepared. I gave my best.”
Charlo hurt Benavídez with a straight right hand toward the end of the first round after Charlo started slowly, the result of his long layoff. Charlo landed a sharp right uppercut midway through the second. Benavídez briefly hurt Charlo to start the third with a jab-right hand combination, but Charlo responded with an overhand right that snapped Benavídez’s head back with a minute left in the frame, and Charlo unloaded on Benavídez in the fourth as Benavídez covered up under Charlo’s heavy jabs and lefts. Charlo snapped Benavídez’s head back with a right uppercut with 40 seconds left in the sixth, and Charlo hurt Benavídez in the 10th round with a snappy right, as the two exchanged words and eventually buried the bad blood between them when the fight was over and embraced.
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