Sunday, February 27, 2011

Notes from Rios-Acosta

What an exciting and fascinating fight last night between two of the best lightweights in the world.  Brandon Rios, the American pressure fighter rallied to defeat the wily titleholder from Venezuela, Miguel Acosta. Here are some notes about the fight:
  • No sparring partner resembles Miguel Acosta.  Acosta's style is very unique.  He's a mover who also likes to fight off the ropes.  He throws lead uppercuts from the outside.  Even though Acosta can box, he prefers power shots, especially a hesitation-style left hook that looks like it's going to be a jab.  His right hand is almost a right hook.  He throws unconventional combinations like right uppercut-left hook-looping right hand. 
  • Remember the name Robert Garcia, Rios' trainer.  Garcia trains both Rios and Nonito Donaire.  I'd say he's having a pretty good month.  Garcia had his boxer fight the perfect fight.  Garcia, through studying tapes, realized that the only way to beat Acosta is to apply constant pressure, cut off the ring and hurt him with power shots.  He had enough faith in his fighter to know that Rios' chin could withstand the early onslaught.  Even after some shaky early rounds, Garcia's game plan and philosophy didn't change.  Credit Garcia for having Rios in supreme condition which helped him survive Acosta's vicious power shots in the early rounds.  
  • Perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of the match was that both boxers fought the fight that they wanted.  Acosta liked fighting off the ropes because his uppercuts could do the most damage.  That position also was the right range for his looping right hand.  Rios wanted the fight in close quarters where he could throw his hooks and body shots.  If Acosta moved all night, I don't think that Rios could have caught him.  However, Acosta's money punch was his short uppercut (either left or right hand), which for some fighters can be tough to throw in the center of the ring.
  • A country with a good amateur program would have taken Acosta's style and gutted it to make him more conventional.   That is a shame because unconventional fighters help make the sport interesting.  Boxing would be less enjoyable if everyone followed the same two or three accepted blueprints of what a world-class fighter is supposed to look like.     
  • Al Bernstein from Showtime said it perfectly last night.  This fight was a battle of the chins.  It wasn't a battle of wills, because both fighters fought their fight.  The crucial difference of the fight was that Brandon Rios withstood brutal punishment for the first five rounds but Acosta could not survive the left hook and that crippling right hand which ended the fight.
  • It's always fun when someone gets knocked down by a jab.  It doesn't happen often (Sam Peter dropped James Toney with a jab) but it does happen.  Usually, the scenario only occurs when a fighter is off-balance, but last night's jab knockdown was clean.
  • Brandon Rios is a vicious pressure fighter, but he is beatable.  I think a vintage version of Juan Manuel Marquez boxes rings around him. Stylistically, Robert Guerrero could be a tough match up for Rios, but I don't think Guerrero has the focus or discipline to stay in that type of firefight for 12 rounds.  A boxer-puncher with top-flight jabs and ring generalship could give Rios problems.  Though there aren't too many of those in the division right now.
  • Kudos to Top Rank for their matchmaking.  All week long, Bob Arum was confident that Rios-Acosta was going to produce fireworks.  His matchmakers, whether Bruce Trampler or Brad Goodman, are the best in the business.  Top Rank matched Rios very tough last night.  Now Rios and Arum will reap the rewards.
  • Also, kudos to Showtime for taking a chance on Miguel Acosta.  The Venezuelan had a very low profile, even as a titleholder.  He had only fought in the United States once prior to last night and that was in 2007.  Showtime didn't panic though.  They watched tape.  They saw Acosta's style and highlight-reel type knockouts.  Showtime took a chance and made a great fight.  They also found a great TV fighter in the future if Acosta is matched properly.
  • I don't know whom Rios fights next but with his demolishment of Anthony Peterson and Miguel Acosta, he has quickly become one of the most exciting television fighters in boxing.  I'm not yet sure if he can be in a bad fight.

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