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Jose Benavidez Jr., Francisco Santana expect fireworks in undercard bout

The matchup between Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol was never supposed to be on HBO pay-per-view, but thanks to the network’s budget cuts on boxing, it’s now available for a price of $50 or $60 for high definition.

If you’re lucky enough to fork over the asking price to watch on television or purchase a ticket to the event, here’s what to expect from the undercard during Crawford-Postol at the MGM Grand Garden on Saturday.

The most compelling fight on the undercard is a welterweight battle between Jose Benavidez Jr. and Francisco “Chia” Santana. Two fighters coming from different paths, but headed down the same road with hopes of receiving a world title shot.

Benavidez, 24, was once a rising star from Phoenix, but due to injuries and weight management issues, he has taken a step back. Santana, 30, is a veteran fighter who has fought tough opponents, but always seems to come up short.

Santana (24-4-1, 12 knockouts), who’s from Santa Barbara, California, went the distance in losses to Sadam Ali and current WBC junior middleweight titleholder Jermell Charlo. He recorded a draw versus Julian Williams, a title contender in the 154-pound division.

“He’s probably the bigger name,” Santana said of Benavidez. “I’ve always been the underdog. I’m fine with it. I’ve been through adversary. I’ve fought undefeated guys. I’m ready for the big stage and fulfilling my dream of becoming a world champion.”

Benavidez (24-0, 16 KOs) is back at 147 pounds after struggling to make weight at 140 in his last fight and has looked sluggish in his last few outings.

The undefeated boxer admitted to underperforming and vows to return stronger against Santana, who’s known for his offensive prowess in the ring.

“We want to give a big performance and let people know I’m back,” Benavidez said. “He has a big heart and fights hard, but I’m going to beat him.”

Benavidez’s father and trainer, Jose Sr., said his son relinquished the interim WBA junior welterweight title because they couldn’t land a title shot against Crawford or Postol.

The older Benavidez understands his son needs to look great Saturday to gain respect at welterweight.

“He needs to look spectacular to keep advancing and to let people know he belongs here,” Benavidez Sr. said. “He needs to keep looking good.”

Rising Mexican fighter Oscar Valdez has an opportunity to win the vacant WBO featherweight title against unknown Matias Rueda from Argentina. The belt was vacated by Vasyl Lomachenko, who’s staying at 130 pounds.

Valdez’s match was moved to the co-main event after Gilberto Ramirez suffered a hand injury during training camp a few weeks ago. Ramirez was scheduled to make his first WBO super middleweight defense against Dominik Britsch.

The Oleksandr Gvozdyk-Tommy Karpency light heavyweight match was added to the PPV portion of the card after Ramirez was taken off. Gvozdyk is a promising prospect who won a bronze medal for Ukraine in 2012.

Ryota Murata took the gold medal at middleweight four years ago. The Japanese fighter meets George Tahdooahnippah in the final bout before the PPV.

Contact Gilbert Manzano at gmanzano@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0492. Follow him on Twitter: @gmanzano24

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