Looking back, he understands the ballista had been cat-and-mouse for him. Maybe it was the aforementioned guy who torched his Mercedes beforehand that spring. Or not. Either way, it was blame midnight, and his adherent was accomplishing the dishes. So Jose Benavidez Jr. absitively to airing his pets that night, the Schnauzer and article added exotic. “Like a cheetah,” he recalls. “A $10,000 cat.”
Jose wasn’t a minute from the abode aback he saw the guy: attenuate mustache and sideburns, Hispanic or black, atramentous hoodie, easily in his pockets. On a summer night in Phoenix.
The Schnauzer started barking.
“Does your dog bite?” The articulation was neutral, no accent. “I’m abashed of dogs.”
The aboriginal attempt came as Benavidez angled bottomward to aces up the Schnauzer. It entered aloft his appropriate knee, acute the femoral artery. Benavidez fell. The apache acicular at his head. The additional attempt abrupt the appropriate pinkie of Benavidez’s ample hand.
But as Jose managed to sit up, he noticed the apache attractive abaft him, as if there were article there. He could see it in his face: fear.
“Dude,” Benavidez said. “You a b—-.”
That was Aug. 22, 2016. This Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska — in his third bender aback doctors told him he’d never action afresh — Benavidez (27-0) meets Terence Crawford (33-0) for the WBO welterweight title. It seems affidavit that Benavidez is tougher than the bandit anti-heroes who assume to absorb him. Still, the glories of his improvement accept been blocked by the alternate abhorrence of the fighters themselves. Alike their corresponding camps accept been assigned altered hotels to abbreviate the achievability of violence.
For all their declared enmity, though, Crawford and Benavidez allotment added than absolute records. They like to fight. They like guns. (Benavidez’s pride is axiomatic aback he speaks of his Colt .38 Cool with a austere reaper categorical in white gold on its handle.) And they’ve anniversary been shot.
Crawford’s adventure — afterwards a dice d in 2008, the ammo miraculously traveling about his skull — has been told abounding times. But the Benavidez adventure charcoal furtive, sinister, anytime present. If it doesn’t ascertain him, it identifies the different activating that fabricated him and, perhaps, about destroyed him. Through interviews and accessible annal acquired by ESPN, what emerges is the adventure of a distinct ancestor and his two sons, Jose Jr., America’s youngest anytime Golden Gloves champion, and David, the youngest to authority a cool middleweight title. Taken together, they’re not alone prodigies but a affectionate of battle parable, a advancement that active through one’s sons can be a perilous anatomy of vanity.
Jose Benavidez Jr. was 7 aback he won his aboriginal trophy. At about 4 anxiety high, it seemed taller than Junior. “It was the better affair ever,” says his father, Jose Sr., who couldn’t accept been beforehand than 22 himself. “It afflicted my accomplished life.”
Epiphany gave way to purpose and, ultimately, obsession. Senior, as he’s called, had lived a complicated and agitated life. His ancestor dead a man in a bar, he says. His mother larboard him in Mexico, area he generally scavenged for commons of alone oranges or leaves with salt. Afresh he fabricated it to Van Nuys, California. “I formed my own little assemblage in inferior aerial school,” he recalls. “I accomplished them how to abduct radios from cars.” By 16, aback he had Junior, he was affairs drugs and sleeping with a 9 mm at his bedside.
Terence Crawford was aloft a fighter and begin his way mostly due to his time in a ring, but it’s his time as a ancestor that has created a different antithesis that challenges him anniversary and every day.
Looking to watch the Terence Crawford vs. Jose Benavidez Jr. 12-round bender for Crawford’s WBO welterweight title, and the blow of the undercard from Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday? Here’s how to do it.
So he went to Phoenix. He started abrasion dishes at the Ritz-Carlton, formed his way up as a captain in feast service, got a house. David was built-in May 1996. Activity was good. Afresh came the trophy.
“I had all these dreams,” Jose Sr. recalls. “I was so motivated.”
He began assuming up at every gym in town, belief trainers, authoritative brainy notes. “I blanket from everybody,” he says.
Senior ordered advisory videos and old fights on VHS. He spent endless hours hitting rewind, committing every anatomy to memory: Felix Trinidad ambience up the hook, Oscar De La Hoya’s array of jabs, the animation of Naseem Hamed, the absolute animality of Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. He watched through the night. It’s a admiration he anytime slept, as Inferior had to be up at 5 a.m. for roadwork.
Junior seemed the absolute barge for his father’s ambition. It wasn’t alone his biggy aptitude or a appropriately beggarly disposition. It was the abstraction that the kid could be incentivized. Once, afore a tournament, his ancestor showed him a go kart. “If you win,” Senior said, “it’s yours.”
Junior already knew whom he’d accommodated in the finals: “I’m activity to f— this m—–f—– up.”
And he did. The arrangement was cut: action followed by compensation. Inferior admired them both, still a adolescent aback he abstruse to monetize his motivation. Sometimes, the compensation was beeline cash. Or a brace of Jordans. Once, a T-Mobile Sidekick. He remembers activity to brand academy aloof to appearance off the new 14-ounce gloves his dad had ordered from Ringside.
“Where’s your pencil?” the abecedary asked. “Where’s your notebook?”
“I don’t allegation that,” he said.
In 2009, several years afterwards his divorce, Senior and his sons showed up at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California. While David is remembered as a shy, beefy kid, Inferior — who won the National Golden Gloves at 16, aloof months afore — was handsome, absorbing and in all means precocious. Shortly afterwards his arrival, he sparred afresh 140-pound best Amir Khan to a standstill. Afresh there were sessions with Shane Mosley, Paulie Malinaggi and Manny Pacquiao. Freddie Roach, seven-time trainer of the year, alleged Inferior “my best prospect.” Not alone did Inferior apperceive how to fight. He knew how to hustle.
“I consistently had a aerial mentality,” he says. “My dad accomplished me annihilation in activity is free.”
They’d buy bootleg DVDs for two bucks and advertise them for $20. They awash affected gold teeth grills and affected Jordan sneakers. It was an apprenticeship in “The Hustle.” But it was essential, Senior told his sons, in the accident that “anything anytime happens to me.”
If Inferior accepted the compulsatory curriculum, he additionally knew that the Abode of Benavidez depended, in ample measure, on the benefaction of its patrons. They included ambitious managers, promoters and the all-over sponsors. Inferior was a star, and there were consistently guys who’d pay to be about a star.
Even as an amateur, Junior’s sponsors kept him in that which he loved: fast cars. Some he aggregate with his father. Others he raced. Inferior set a goal: to buy his aboriginal alien auto afore he was 21.
In January 2010, at 17, he became the youngest fighter to assurance with Top Rank. The accord alleged for $100,000 in benefit payments and $2,000 a ages in active expenses. His manager, Billy Keane, was a accustomed amount at the Wild Card.
Five months later, with Inferior already 5-0, the arrangement was “restated” on the breach of his 18th birthday. This time, Keane was out, and Jose Sr. took his percentage. Inferior promptly bought a Maserati.
In time, he added to his collection: Corvette, Viper, best Camaro IROC, not to acceptance the Mercedes S550 that anguish up a broiled husk. But aloof as Inferior afflicted cars, Senior afflicted benefactors.
Senior replaced Keane with Steve Feder, who managed several Wild Card fighters, and brought in an investor.
“We were affectionate of bankrupt aback we went to California,” Senior says. “They gave me $100,000 for 14 points, but they didn’t do a acceptable job. … I was the capital manager, always.”
Feder beneath animadversion but has been in adjudication at atomic alert with Benavidez, according to the California State Athletic Commission. Anon enough, the Hall of Fame trainer was gone, too.
“The added we got into it, the added anxious the dad became,” Roach says. “I had a ancestor who was my trainer, too, so I accepted the situation: The dad’s got to be in charge. The dad capital to be the arch trainer, so he took the kid aback to Arizona area he could accept control.”
Berny Montes, 46, finds his acceptability article of a mystery.
“That’s what everybody says: ‘I don’t appetite to blend with you.'”
Sure, he grew up in the Coffelt-Lamoreaux apartment projects in South Phoenix. But the toughest affair about his childhood, he says, was actuality ample and best on. Certainly, Montes became appalling abundant to advance in business. Berny’s Car Wash on Corona Avenue is a adjacency institution. Afresh there are absolute acreage holdings. What he’s best appreciative of, however, is the credible to a battle glove-drying accessory he keeps affected by the access of his home.
Berny’s Sports has sponsored abounding arresting fighters, including WBO agile best Oscar Valdez, Orlando Salido, Viktor Postol and aloft failing best Ray Beltran. But his addition to the pro d came via the Benavidezes. Montes was activity through a abasement — ample and overeating, he recalls — and attractive for a claimed trainer aback he begin Senior in a makeshift gym at a bounded bandy meet. Soon, Senior arrive Montes to Las Vegas, area Inferior was angry at Texas Station Casino.
It was Montes’ aboriginal time in Vegas. His aboriginal time in the bathrobe room. His aboriginal time in the corner. And he was mesmerized: “I’m like, ‘Wow! This is what I appetite to do with my life. I appetite to be a manager.'”
Senior asked if he capital to be a sponsor. Gladly.
Before long, Senior, his new wife and David were active in Montes’ address aing door. (“Rent-free,” Montes says. “The guy was consistently broke.”) Inferior accustomed a $500 account allowance additional training expenses, including camps in Big Bear, California. If Montes was addled by Junior’s talent, he additionally detected a breach in his soul. If allotment of him capital to be the acquiescent son, addition allotment was accustomed to rebellion. Inferior was fatigued to both the arena and the street.
Montes abundant to ESPN a chat he already had with the adolescent fighter: “You action so beautifully. Either you’re activity to be a boxer and accomplish a lot of money, or you’re activity to be a assemblage member. But let me acquaint you something, you blot at actuality a gangster.”
In David, afresh 14, Montes saw himself: “That was me in school, the fat kid. We absolutely connected. He was 240, and I was 250. I took David to the gym every day. I told him he could do it. We absent the weight together.”
If Inferior was conflicted, David’s appetite was aloof demography shape. As his weight dropped, his ability rose. With Junior’s career adjourned by an afflicted duke and inconsistent training, David began absolution himself able-bodied in battle sessions with the brand of champions such as Kelly Pavlik, Peter Quillin and Gennady Golovkin.
“That’s aback the dad started advantageous absorption to David,” says Montes, who went from actuality the boy’s acquaintance to his backer. A -to-be accord alleged for Montes to administer and sponsor David in acceptance for 10 percent of his purses, starting three years afterwards his pro debut. Montes had his advocate draw up a arrangement and, per Senior’s credible concerns, several revisions. But it never got signed.
Meanwhile, Montes says he paid David’s $500 account allowance, training costs and alike his opponent’s purses (not an abnormal convenance at the lower rungs of the sport). On April 25, 2015, at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix, Montes recalls advantageous the apostle $3,000 for an opponent. David was 9-0 and had aloof won a inferior NABF title; his brother was 22-0, accepting won an acting 140-pound belt.
While those annal advance that the self-taught trainer/dad knew what he was doing, Montes acquainted like “a cow who is milked for cash.” About two years afterwards David angry pro, Montes had appear to accept Senior would never assurance the contract: “He was abashed of accident his kids. He wants ascendancy of everything.”
Senior recalls it differently. He remembers a awful addled Montes allurement to be trained: “He came to my gym one time, and he was all [messed up] … accomplishing absolutely bad. I got him motivation. I helped him a lot. … I didn’t apperceive he was accomplishing these things.”
What things? Senior was asked.
“One day I go to Mexico, and on the way aback they told me — at the border, they said he sells drugs.”
If this were addition epiphany, it’s one that Montes acerb denies.
Senior continues: “From then, I aloof approved to get abroad from him, little by little — but he didn’t appetite to leave. He says, ‘If you leave, you’re activity to accept to pay me $100,000.’
“I didn’t accord him $100,000. I gave him whatever he claims to accept invested — he didn’t alike advance it, it was a advocacy — plus, I accord him $10,000 extra.”
How abundant in total?
“Forty to $50,000, about in there,” Senior says. “And I told him, ‘I’m not aggravating to booty advantage. You can do whatever you’re activity to do. I’m not activity to be threatened.’ …
“Then he started sending bodies adage he was activity to annihilate me. … I got a lot of calls. … I had bodies afterward us.”
Junior’s Mercedes was torched a a Southern California gym in the bounce of 2016. Some months before, alfresco a party, addition of his cars was riddled with bullets. Senior was asked if he believed Montes was abaft any of it, including the cutting itself.
“To be honest, I don’t anticipate so,” he says, abacus that his earlier son was “hanging about with bodies he’s not declared to be blind about with.”
Montes denies anytime aggressive any affiliate of the Benavidez family.
His one abomination confidence came in 1995, for control of marijuana for sale. “I’m not appreciative of that,” he says, but he denies any captivation with drugs at any time since. He says Senior paid him a atom of what he was owed, but he harbors no adamantine feelings. He admits to missing his old training partner, though: “I still can’t attending at a account of David.”
On Aug. 25, 2016, three canicule afterwards he was shot, Jose Benavidez Jr. was interviewed by badge at Banner University Medical Center. Montes’ name had appear up as an “investigative lead” from a brace of sources, including a man who articular himself as a “boxing journalist,” and said he was calling on account of Jose Senior. From the detective’s account summary: “I asked Jose what his botheration with Bernie was, and he told me Bernie was his brother’s manager. Jose said Bernie has problems with his brother and father, not him. He said the acumen Bernie has complex him in the accomplished is his brother and ancestor do not accept items to be damaged.”
Detectives fabricated several attempts to chase up, but Inferior never responded. It was bright he did not appetite to accompany the matter, which, as a result, was never referred to the prosecutor. Montes was never contacted by police.
“If they absolutely anticipation any of this was true, they would accept questioned him,” said Kamille Dean, Montes’ attorney, who added in a account that her applicant “denies any captivation with any shooting. Mr. Montes beggared means with the Benavidez Ancestors due to acknowledged disputes. On account of anybody from Berny’s Sports, Mr. Montes wishes Inferior the best and acceptable luck with the fight.”
Benavidez’s allowance of advancing aback to action for the welterweight appellation were beneath than his allowance of award his $10,000 cat, which aished with the aboriginal attempt and was never apparent again.
Senior confused the boys aboriginal to Oregon, afresh to Las Vegas. “If I was active abroad from someone, I wouldn’t be on Instagram or Facebook,” he says. “I did it for them. I capital them abroad from their friends.”
That’s not to say Inferior didn’t acquisition his way home. On the night of June 21, 2017, he noticed a man anchored in advanced of his girlfriend’s house. The guy must’ve been there bisected an hour, acting weird. At atomic that’s how it seemed to Junior. He got his Colt Cool .38, confronted the motorist and was answerable with aggravated assault.
The case will be expunged, awaiting his acknowledged achievement of an acrimony administration course. “I was paranoid,” concedes Junior, who still changes his corpuscle cardinal frequently. “I didn’t apperceive who to trust.”
Five months later, adept backbone and conditioning drillmaster Alex Ariza began alive with the Benavidez camp. He was declared to focus on David, but he begin himself more fatigued to Junior, who seemed absorbed on proving that he could still action professionally.
This wasn’t the audacious boy Ariza remembered from aback in the day, assuming off his newest car or his latest boom at the Wild Card. This was a man with the scars — arresting and contrarily — to prove it: a braid of basic traces ambagious about his knee, aloft the boom of Santa Muerte, Our Lady of Holy Death.
How can he fight? Ariza anticipation to himself. He’s almost walking. The femur had been shattered. Muscle and blister tissue had braided together, like a root. Now, to ensure that the quadriceps accursed properly, they had to be afar by needling, cupping and abysmal tissue work.
The trainer had formed with some adventurous champions: Diego Corrales, Erik Morales, Marcos Maidana and Manny Pacquiao. But he had never apparent an amateur abide that abiding akin of pain. “It’s like affairs the bark from your body,” Ariza said. “He’d aloof chaw down, not to cry, not to appearance weakness. The doctor would ask if he capital to booty a break. He’d say no. He’d get this bare stare, like he was activity about far away.”
The little bandit kid was gone. Instead, there was humility, stoicism, acknowledgment.
Ariza wasn’t there for Junior’s action in June, a one-punch alarmist attempt that felled best Venezuelan Frank Rojas. And he won’t be in Omaha, either.
He says he saw it coming. He brought in a hand-wrapping specialist Senior didn’t like. Afresh David allegedly active affairs with Billy Keane, Junior’s aboriginal manager, and the promotional aggregation Top Rank. Top Rank CEO Bob Arum alone any affirmation to Benavidez afterwards David alternate the signing bonus. He has aback activated absolute for cocaine. Still, admitting Ariza’s own acerbic history with Arum, Senior advised him allotment of the Keane-Top Rank coup, he says.
Then again, this wasn’t absolutely about promoters or managers. It was about fathers and sons. David and Inferior had appear to admit in Ariza. “I anticipate the ancestor became threatened,” he says.
As for the Crawford fight, Ariza still doesn’t anticipate Inferior has had abundant time to absolutely adjust the knee. But the Benavidezes accept been talking Crawford for a while, alike afore the shooting. The WBO best is what Inferior was already anticipation to be: not alone a welterweight baron but a potentially abundant one. Inferior says he’s best and taller and stronger, a accustomed welterweight aback adolescence. The cutting hasn’t beneath him, but rather, it has able him with animation and fortitude.
Junior bridles at the abstraction that Crawford comes too soon.
Then again, it wasn’t his call.
“I’m the one who makes that decision,” Jose Benavidez Sr. says.
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