Motivation is just one of the many factors we must attempt to diagnose going into all fights when trying to predetermine the outcome.
And though it’s only a piece of the colossal puzzle, there are bouts where it must be weighed much more heavily than for others. This Saturday night HBO will feature a split-site pay per view card that features a WBO (interim) light welterweight title fight between Juan Manuel Marquez (53-6-1, 39 KO’s) and Serhiy Fedchenko (31-1, 13 KO’s) that airs live from the newly opened Mexico City Arena in Mexico.
The co-feature for this Top Rank card takes place in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. This bout was intended to be one of the most highly anticipated fights for 2012 until undefeated Yuriorkis Gamboa, the opponent for Brandon Rios (29-0-1, 22 KO’s), suddenly disappeared.
With Gamboa a no-show at two pre-fight pressers to promote their blockbuster bout, promoter Bob Arum was forced to find a late replacement. His choice is the relatively unknown Richard Abril (17-2-1, 8 KO’s) who ironically hails from Cuba like the man he was asked to step in for, Gamboa.
Abril is coming in off an impressive 12-round unanimous decision win against former WBA lightweight titlist, Miguel Acosta. It was Rios who gave Acosta the "former champion" label after a TKO victory here in Las Vegas back in February 2011.
Thus far, bookmakers have yet to offer a betting line on either of these two pay per view bouts but rest assured both Marquez and Rios will be heavy chalk to emanate with another win.
The most intriguing element in these mis-matches on paper, is the fact that a proposed mega-fight between Marquez and Rios is being discussed. The rumors circulating involve a July date and a possible showdown at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Although Marquez won’t be super motivated for this level of opposition, there is a potential mega fight that’s only a win away. And let’s not devalue the desire of Marquez to capture another world title in yet another weight class to add to his legacy this late in his career.
Looking at the Rios bout one also has to question his mindset coming in since he was expecting to find himself in a much more prominent fight.
Instead of facing Gamboa, who was set to climb two weight classes to challenge Rios, he must now try to motivate himself for an opponent who went the distance against the same man he was able to walk right through.
Again we can expect to see a lot of chalk next to Rios’ name up on the tote board at the sports books around town that offer a betting line on this bout. And even with his prior issues to make weight, Rios is well deserving of the heavy price tag he’ll demand.
This is another prototypical fight of boxer vs. puncher and I’m not trying to take anything away from Rios’ skills. It’s no secret the majority of Cuban fighters who make it to the U.S. come with an abundance of boxing pedigree in hand.
But as Garcia pointed out, Rios will have 12 rounds to work his way through that lone advantage held by Abril and cut the ring off.
I expect, like Marquez, the potential mega fight that awaits is more than enough to ensure Rios trained hard for this bout.
More importantly, for Rios a chance to face one of his idols while growing up will be a driving factor in making sure he’s focused on the task at hand. Especially now that Gamboa is a distant memory and not likely to ever face Rios after saying this week the Cuban would need to go up to 140 pounds instead of 135 pounds like they had agreed on.
Finally, the only way I would consider wagering on either fight is by tying them both up in a 2-team parlay that still won’t pay handsomely, but that’s what should be expected based on the minimal risk involved. Enjoy the fights.
• Manny Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza is said to have been unhappy with his fighter’s many personal problems and distractions they had to deal with going into the bout with Marquez. Those concerns are still front and center as he attempts to prepare Pacquiao for his upcoming title defense with Timothy Bradley.
Pacquiao’s training camp will begin two days later than scheduled in the Philippines rather than Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles.
• Never one to mince his words, Roger Mayweather in a recent interview with Boxingscene downplayed any threat Miguel Cotto may offer when he meets his star pupil and nephew in less than a month.
When asked how he himself would have stacked up against Cotto when he was boxing, Mayweather responded, "Hell yea I’d take him, hell yea."
• At age 43, boxer James Toney captured another heavyweight title with his TKO win over Bobby Gunn in Mississippi this past Saturday night. The championship strap he took home goes by the name of the IBU heavyweight.
A very distant cousin at best to what legendary boxing historian Bert Sugar referred to as the "alphabet belts," the IBU title had been vacant for almost six years.
RECORD = 44-25 (64%) at Pregame.com
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