History | Sep 12 2018

On This Day: The great wonder kid Wilfred Benitez is born

Matt Christie tells the story of Wilfred Benitez's depressing decline
wilfred benitez
Wilfred Benitez

LIKE Stuart Sutcliffe, a founder member of The Beatles, Wilfred Benitez will always be the fifth member of a Fantastic Four. And like Sutcliffe, who died at just 22 years old, Benitez’s journey roared into the air only to plummet like a stalled plane. Today, the hands that made him one of the finest ring generals of all time can barely be clenched. The brain behind the magic has been ravaged by his trade.

The reason Benitez, born on September 12 1958, is generally denied entry into the Leonard-Hagler-Hearns-Duran club is because he never shared a ring with “Marvellous” Marvin Hagler, thus making his membership incomplete.

But the application, that includes beating Roberto Duran, pushing Ray Leonard to the brink, and being outpointed by Tommy Hearns, should never be discarded. Wilfred Benitez was an elegant artist of the ring, using each inch of the canvas to create fistic masterpieces. He claimed three world titles in different divisions, winning the first aged just 17.