Best Next Michael Carbajal (2010)

Jose Benavidez Jr., Phoenix junior-welterweight

We have both fond and melancholic memories of Phoenix's all-time greatest boxer, Hall of Famer Michael Carbajal, who reached the top of his brutal sport only to be ripped off blind by his trainer and oldest brother, Danny. No one in town has come close to replicating Michael's fame and skill level, but teenager Jose Benavidez Jr., from the Central Boxing Gym on West Van Buren Street, seems headed in the right direction. Out of the ring, the bespectacled, reed-slender (about six feet and 140 pounds) boxer looks tame, but that's a deceptive appearance that belies a warrior within. The kid has exceptional skills and seemingly unlimited potential. Promoter Bob Arum signed Junior, as he's known, to his stable of boxers and put legendary Las Vegas trainer Freddie Roach on the case. Jose's dad is very much involved in the youngster's budding career, and father-son boxing teams usually scare us — too much baggage, too many hopes. But hope springs eternal, even in the fight "game," and we wish this homegrown pugilist the best as he pounds his way to the top.


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