Who: Carlos Cuadras
Record: 35-0-1 (27 KOs)
Division: Junior bantamweight (115 lbs.)
Titles: The WBC 115-lb. champion
Trainer: Rudy Hernandez, although he's had many
Promoter: Teiken Promotions
Next fight: Roman Gonzalez – Sept. 10, 2016
Style in a nutshell: Cuadras is an aggressive fighter who features a high work rate and excellent lateral movement. Comfortable on the front or back foot, Cuadras is a rhythm fighter with good hand speed and accuracy, but he lacks true one-punch power (don't let his 75% KO rate fool you). When initiating exchanges, Cuadras bends down and protects his chin very well. Usually working off the jab, he specializes in quick two- and three-punch combinations before getting out of range. Even though he likes close combat at times, he never smothers himself and always leaves room to punch. As he gets more comfortable, he incorporates longer-sequence exchanges. There, he'll often square himself to opponents, weave in uppercuts and throw straight left hands, an unusual punch for an orthodox fighter. Cuadras is also excellent at cutting off the ring against mobile opponents.
Cuadras is almost always on the move and uses his legs to reduce his opponents' punch output. He'll take breaks during rounds by staying out of range. His chin appears to be strong, although he hasn't necessarily fought a slew of big punchers in his career. Once hit with something strong (which isn't often), he gets out of the pocket. He transitions very smoothly from defense to offense and vice versa.
He mostly aims for the head, although he'll mix in body shots (most often single jabs) to keep opponents honest. However, Cuadras is not necessarily consistent with his body punching. He can also be a hot dog and a showman. He'll play to the crowd and look to embarrass opponents not just technically, but also psychologically.
Stylistic quirks: Cuadras throws two types of left hooks. The first one either starts an exchange or is his initial counter shot. More slung then turned over, it's a wide shot than can be accurate, although the punch doesn't land with a lot of force. This hook is usually employed to set up another shot. Along those lines, Cuadras will often intentionally miss with a wide, throw-away left hook so he can come back with a straight right hand. During longer punch sequences, Cuadras has a much more compact left hook. It's a pinpoint shot, perhaps his best weapon. He throws it in rhythm and almost always in the middle or end of a combination.
When coming forward, Cuadras has a number of idiosyncrasies. If initiating offense, he ducks down, getting below eye level of his opponent. Bringing his gloves down with him, his chin becomes a very hard target to hit. Often, he explodes on offense from a stance that nearly resembles a crouch. On the front foot, he sometimes lunges in behind right hands, making head butts common in his fights.
He often throws his right uppercut off-balanced or off the wrong foot. These are home run-type shots that are intended to cause maximum damage. He might land the punch 10% of the time during a combination and it is more effective as a counter. His left uppercut does exist but he uses it sparingly (only during combinations). It's not particularly effective or a real weapon. Occasionally, he'll throw some unusual combinations like straight right hand/right uppercut or counter right uppercut/left uppercut/left hook.
He's very adept at ducking punches getting out of range. When hurt, he'll use his legs to evade danger more often than tie up.
When Cuadras is at his best: I actually prefer his work when he fights on the back foot. He'll use a counter left hook as his primary weapon. He can arc the shot, loop it or throw a more concise "check" left hook. Then, he'll mix in one or two more punches before getting out of danger. He moves very well to either side and his reflexes and athleticism make it very tough for opponents to land combinations on him.
Cuadras can expertly switch from working one side of the body to the other. During these stretches, his opponents aren't sure of where the next punch is coming from. He can be very creative offensively, especially as he gets more comfortable with an opponent.
He also turns his foes very well and uses his legs to dictate when and where action takes place. Although his movement is often unorthodox, he is an excellent athlete. An opponent has to be in elite-level condition to even attempt to outpoint him.
When Cuadras is vulnerable: Cuadras protects his chin very well and he keeps his gloves a touch lower than other boxers do. This allows for areas high on his head to be exposed. He can get tagged by left hooks to the side of his head or straight right hands to the temple. He also gives an opponent his body and he rarely lowers his gloves to protect downstairs.
In addition, an opponent can punch with him. During longer exchanges, he'll throw several quick shots and he often doesn't return his hands to a defensively responsible position. If an opponent is willing to stand his ground and take punches, he can land one good shot before Cuadras leaves the pocket (the best option is usually a left hook).
Cuadras can also be susceptible to a counter uppercut. When initiating offense, he lunges in and at times he leaves too much space between his gloves. During these moments, he is completely vulnerable to a punch from underneath. Uppercuts to the body could be especially effective against him.
How Cuadras could trouble Gonzalez: Facing perhaps the best fighter in the sport is a very tall order but Cuadras has several attributes that could be effective against Gonzalez. Cuadras has the athleticism and the ability to fight on the back foot to stink out the match. He can use his legs to significantly reduce Gonzalez's punch output. Cuadras stands a much better chance if Gonzalez is throwing 50 punches a round instead of 100. If this type of fight materializes, Cuadras could flurry quickly with counter shots and then escape the pocket. By winning quick salvos, he could pick up points in a less-than-scintillating style. He could probably beat Gonzalez in a pure track meet. I don't think that Cuadras will run for 12 rounds – he's very prideful and wants the crowd to like him – but he could certainly engage in this style for significant portions of the fight.
Cuadras has tricky movements and can be very tough to time. He'll have an advantage early in the fight as Gonzalez attempts to figure out his unorthodox style. Utilizing his multiple left hooks and changing up fighting on the front and back foot, Cuadras can dictate the action until Gonzalez is able to make the appropriate adjustments. It's very possible that Cuadras will be ahead or tied after the first six rounds.
He also needs to check Gonzalez's chin early in the fight with a straight right hand. Gonzalez punches so much that he's susceptible to counter shots. Cuadras must land his Sunday punch to see if Gonzalez can take a solid shot at 115. A big shot can also dissuade Gonzalez from being more aggressive in the fight. Yes, Cuadras should dance, flurry and shoeshine his way to winning rounds, but landing something hard, early, is also an imperative; it might be another way to neutralize Gonzalez in the ring. Gonzalez has been stunned before in fights at lower weights and a big punch from a real junior bantamweight could do far more than temporarily daze him.
How Gonzalez could trouble Cuadras: Gonzalez needs to start working the body from the opening bell. Anything that can reduce Cuadras' movement in the fight is an imperative. Cuadras will let an opponent have the body; Gonzalez must seize that opportunity. He should hit him downstairs with whatever punch is available – left hook, jab, uppercut or straight right hand.
The counter left hook will likely be Gonzalez's most effective punch to the head. Gonzalez needs to be patient, set traps and wait for Cuadras to drop his right low enough for the counter – it will happen. Gonzalez might have to eat some punches but he should load up on that shot. He most likely won't be able to land three- and four-punch combos on Cuadras, but the one big shot is available. Gonzalez certainly has enough power and accuracy to cause damage in these moments and once Cuadras gets hit hard, he stops throwing. These counters can change the tenor of the fight. They will also be extremely eye-catching to the judges.
In addition, Gonzalez can win the fight on punch volume. Even though he has pinpoint accuracy, it's not easy to land on Cuadras. Throwing shots that hit arms and elbows could be enough to win close rounds. Cuadras doesn't want to work three minutes every round. By applying consistent and intelligent pressure, Gonzalez can make Cuadras fight more than he wants to. As bouts progress, Cuadras' work rate can drop. In these moments, Gonzalez must seize the initiative. He might not be able to land the type of sizzling blows that his fans are accustomed to seeing but he could certainly outpoint Cuadras on volume and activity. Hey, it might not be sexy, but a win's a win.
Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of saturdaynightboxing.com.
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
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