DOUBLE SHOT: Marquez Defeats Fedchenko to Keep Pacquiao in His Sights, Rios Slinks Past Abril


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Fighting in Mexico City for the first time in nearly 18 years, Juan Manuel Marquez easily outpointed Serhiy Fedchenko Saturday night by the scores of 119-109, 118-110, 118-110 to win the interim WBO light welterweight title.

That Fedchenko, now 30-2 with 13 KOs, is a competent, durable fighter with reluctant hands helped make this a less than memorable affair. The Kharkov, Ukraine, native used the first two rounds to land some well-timed right hands as Marquez sized him up. Marquez, 54-6-1, with 39 KOs, began countering Fedchenko with body shots in the third, a warm-up to a brutal body attack delivered in the fourth that effectively ended any notion that it would be a competitive bout.

The following five rounds were monotonous. Fedchenko, while avoiding any staggering blows, simply didn’t punch enough to bother the Mexican icon. He tried to time him with the occasional right hand, and got blessed with left hook-right hand-left uppercut combinations for his trouble. As with so many Marquez opponents in the past, he was handcuffed by consummate counters, and only when those handcuffs are interlocked tightly does a Marquez fight become dull.

Marquez quieted the restless whistling emitting from the crowd by attempting to finish his wounded prey during the championship rounds, but Fedchenko survived several flush left hooks and right hands. And upon the final bell, many of us came to the realization that the 38-year-old is still a pleasure to watch, even when noteworthy exchanges are scarce. Marquez is a unique technician; while other fighters struggle to throw a simple jab-right hand-left hook combination without compromising their balance, he can begin a combination at any moment with any punch at his disposal – an overhand right, a left uppercut, a left hook to the body. While unleashing his hands, he has the balance of a funambulist. It’s the reason Manny Pacquiao could never overwhelm him with his athleticism through 36 rounds, and would struggle to figure him out if they went 36 more. Adversaries exchange with him at their own peril.

Still, with age and weight gain come heavy legs. Marquez isn’t as fleet-footed as he used to be and had issues catching up with Fedchenko through much of the bout. At this stage of his career, someone with quick feet accompanied by a cautious style might be able to spoil his proficiency.

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Punching power and a high motor aren’t the only attributes that make Brandon Rios a knockout artist. Limited by defensive liabilities, Rios, 30-0, with 22 KOs, needed more than that to disassemble Anthony Peterson, Miguel Acosta, John Murray, and the like.

His jab, a fairly active one for a pressure fighter, serves as the primary weapon that makes him a handful, and without it he’s just a nondescript slugger. Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, against Richard Abril, Rios inexplicably ditched his jab completely, opting instead to bury his head in Abril’s left shoulder and throw arm punches.

Predictably, given the shoddy judging that continues to plague the sport, he got the victory anyway, “earning” a split decision by scores of 111-117, 116-112, and 115-113. Reaction after the bout was a mixed bag of outrage and indifference, but the question of which stunk worse – the decision or the action inside the ring – is a riddle not worth investigating. Abril, 17-3-1, with 8 knockouts, is a spoiling boxer with a preference for grappling instead of engaging on the inside, and Rios’ jab-less, ineffectual aggression exacerbated the Cuban’s tactics. Nevertheless, Abril clearly landed the cleaner blows throughout and deserves to be holding the interim WBA lightweight strap that Rios vacated after yet another failed weigh-in.

Rios’ struggles to make weight may explain his lack of pop in the championship rounds, but it does nothing to explain the sharp regression in technique and strategy. If the 25-year-old fights Juan Manuel Marquez on July 14th as was originally planned, he’ll need to retrace his steps and solve the case of the missing jab. Otherwise, the fight will be a laugher and just another showcase of Marquez’ mastery.

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Topics: Barndon Rios, Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao, Richard Abril, Serhiy Fedchencko

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  • thenonpareil

    Hi MN,
    the only thing interesting about the Marquez fight is the fact that Fedchenko’s cornerman kept putting an icebag over Fedchenko’s heart from one round to the next.  That, and the way Marquez looks like he’s been reading back issues of Muscle and Fitness magazine. 
    I thought Abril won the fight, but watching it was a horrible way to spend 48 minutes.  It was like a double no-hitter in baseball. When Abril wasn’t clowning Rios, he was holding.  And he also spent way too much time on his blocking schtick.  It was neat, but while Abril stood there blocking, Rios threw countless ineffective blows and these weak punches may have been the only things that kept the judges awake during the fight.  It’s hard to tell if such negativity cost Abril the decision, but, at this point, underdogs need to understand that beating a house fighter requires a little more proactive approach, although, in Abril’s case, there’s no telling if that would have altered the bizarre scorecards.  
    By the 8th round, I told my friend that there was no way Abril was going to get the decision fighting like this, whether he deserved it or not.  And when Abril came out with the same approach in the 11th and 12th, I was positive he’d get ripped off.  It’s not right, it’s not fair, but a professional has to pay attention to where he stands in the game, now more than ever, it seems. 
    Rios looked ridiculous in the ring and acted like a fool as well.  Marquez leaves him in little pieces if they ever fight…..

  • jet79

    Hi MN,
     
    I thought at 135 that Rios could overwhelm Marquez (given Bam Bam’s ability to absorb, and Marquez’ shaky legs). But as you noted Rios has regressed and Marquez has fortified his body, even if the legs are still a question.
     
    I hope they fight. I’ve never been a fan of Rios despite his entertainment value, and the excuses made on his behalf only make me dislike him more. I imagine Marquez could land whatever he wanted on Rios, whenever he wanted. And I would love watching him go “Contra-code” on that belligerent, lumbering mouth-breather.
     
    Question: Given how lousy Rios looked eventually weighing in at 139, is the move to junior welterweight a drastic enough ascension? Or will he still feel the effects of cutting weight to the extent that he brings his zombie offense to the ring? Is he maybe a small welterweight at this point? I only ask because against higher profile opponents, who aren’t desperate for the exposure or payday, Rios might not get away with these shenanigans. He could get left without a dance partner if he came in overweight against Marquez (and most certainly would have against Gamboa). Caveat emptor when it comes to Rios I, think.
     
    Christopher Bosh
     
     

  • Michael Nelson

     @jet79 Hey JT,
     
    Watching Rios fight was never quite as entertaining as watching Christopher Bosh launch threes early in the shot clock, but it was entertaining enough for him to get a pass for the shenanigans that preceded John Murray.  This?  Failing to make weight for a second consecutive time, making an In-N-Out run or something before returning to make a joke of the second “attempt”, then willfully fighting the shittiest fight of his career only to be rewarded with the decision?  It’s a bit hard to swallow.
     
    So I’m with you, bring on Marquez, who might as well walk into the ring with a wooden block, axe, and executioner’s mask if Rios doesn’t start taking his craft seriously.
     
    Good call on him being a small welterweight now.  I’m assuming even making 140 would be a struggle.  Still, of more concern than that I think, is his abandoning everything that made him a good fighter to begin with.  I’m genuinely curious as to what the hell he did during training camp.  That was bad.
     
    Obviously he’s still young, but his career’s headed in the wrong direction and fast.

  • Michael Nelson

     @thenonpareil Hey Carlos,
     
    Agreed.  I generally make it a point to credit the underdog for exceeding expectations more than discredit the favorite for not doing what was expected, but Abril wasn’t impressive.  Whether it was stubbornness or his trainer saying the wrong things, he refused to push the pedal. 
     
    I’m not sure Abril’s any better than Acosta or Peterson despite having more success than those guys.  Rios was awful.  And I guess that his lack of professionalism from the weigh-in through the final bell got rewarded irked me more than the usual iffy judging.