THIS PUERTO Rican prodigy was a stylish boxer with sneaky punching power. He turned pro at the age of 15 and proclaimed himself "The Bible of Boxing" because of his technical superiority in the ring.
At 17 years and six months, he became the youngest fighter in boxing history to win a world title when he was awarded a split decision over WBA junior welterweight champion Antonio Cervantes.
Benitez made three title defenses before climbing in weight and beating WBC welterweight champion Carlos Palomino in 1979. Shortly after that victory, a bout between the two best young fighters in the world was signed. Benitez would meet Sugar Ray Leonard
The affair was a fistic chess match as the young welterweights matched speed and artistry. After Leonard dropped Benitez at the start of the 15th and final round, the referee moved in and stopped the contest.
Benitez was not discouraged and simply moved up in weight again and captured his third title by stopping Maurice Hope for the WBC super welterweight crown. At the time, he was only the seventh man in boxing history to win three titles in three weight classes.
Benitez made title defenses against Carlos Santos and Roberto Duran before Thomas Hearns ended his reign. In another brilliant fight, Hearns earned the title and a majority decision by outslicking Benitez over 15 rounds.
Benitez retired in 1990.
Born: Sept. 12, 1958