On This Day: The brilliant 20-year-old Wilfred Benitez bewitches Carlos Palomino


Wilfred Benitez exhibits perfect counter-punching to dethrone Carlos Palomino

WILFRED BENITEZ w pts 15 CARLOS PALOMINO
January 14, 1979; Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan
WILFRED BENITEZ, at the ripe old age of 20, was at a crossroads. Since winning the super-lightweight title at the age of 17 – and setting a record for the youngest ever champ in the process – the Puerto Rican had injured both hands in a road accident, been stripped of the title for inactivity, gone life and death with Bruce Curry and contracted hepatitis. But against Carlos Palomino, the WBC welterweight champ, Benitez was simply majestic. After a close opening six, Benitez’s sublime counter-punching prowess saw him win a 15-round decision.

DID YOU KNOW? Though Benitez looked a clear winner, the decision was split. Judge Zack Clayton scored for Palomino 146-142 (other scores were 148-143 and 146-143 for Benitez) and later blamed the sun for affecting his view of the action.

WATCH OUT FOR: A true defensive genius. But such brilliance can only last so long; within 10 years, the sport had wrecked Wilfred Benitez.



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