As he heard his opponent announced the winner, Mauricio Herrera didn’t blink.
For even though he threw, and landed, more punches, and was consistently busier during the course of his 12-round bout with Jose Benavidez, Herrera had a sense of déjà vu as he waited for the decision.
Last July, Herrera faced WBC, WBA, and The Ring junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia in the defending titleholders’ homeland of Puerto Rico. Herrera used movement, and his best weapon--his jab--to frustrate Garcia. He also connected with a variety of punches from different angles.
Hererra did a similar number on Benavidez last Saturday night at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, NV. But instead of the jab, Hererra went to the body. The punches weren’t particularly hard, but they scored points.
Benavidez entered the bout undefeated. His promotion company, Top Rank, is grooming the 22-year-old for stardom.
Hererra, 34, is the proverbial hard-scrabble fighter. He got into the game late, and rose through the ranks by fighting.
Nothing has been given to him.
In 2011, Hererra defeated the “Siberian Rocky,” Ruslan Provodnikov.
He beat Mike Dallas Jr., but lost decisions to Mike Alvarado and Karim Mayfield. He then faced Garcia. In the best shape of his life, and motivated to prove the naysayers wrong, he frustrated the champion all night long.
In a perfect world, Hererra deserved to win the fight. But boxing is miles away from being perfect, especially in its judging.
Fast forward to Saturday night in Vegas. Herrera outworked his taller opponent. He stung him with his right. Benavidez rallied in the later rounds, but in the opinion of just about everybody at ringside, and those watching from home, Hererra did more than enough to win the fight.
As the decision was announced, Hererra sensed it wouldn't go his way.
“I was feeling sad," Hererra told Bob Newman and Tracy Morin of fightnews.com. “I don’t know why, but I had a feeling that something was gonna go wrong when they announced the score cards. I didn’t know what to think. I was speechless.”
Hererra’s intuition was proven correct.
Judges Max DeLuca and Eric Cheek scored the fight 116-112 for Benavidez. Dave Moretti, praised by former judge
and HBO commentator Harold Lederman as one of the best in the game, had Benvavidez the winner 117-111.
This writer scored the match 116-112 for Hererra.
According to CompuBox, Herrera was the busier fighter. He threw 870 punches, 200 more than Bevavidez. He also landed 35 more blows, but to the three at ringside his vitality wasn’t enough.
There have been worse decisions in boxing history. And there will undoubtedly be more.
But until the boxing establishment demands some action, nothing will change.
Hererra is a credit to boxing. His flaw, if you want to call it that, is that he wasn't born with knockout power. Should that really matter?
It's no coincidence that his nickname is "El Maestro."
Hererra respects his profession and always gives it everything he has.
It would be nice if the murky pugilistic world would treat him with the same respect.