Who: Luis Nery
Record: 22-0 (16 KOs)
Division: Bantamweight (118 lbs.)
Titles: No major titles yet
Trainer: Ismael Ramirez
Promoter: Zanfer Promotions
Next fight: TBA
Style in a nutshell: Nery is a lanky, left-handed swarmer with very heavy hands. Resembling a less-frenetic version of James Kirkland, Nery can hurt an opponent with either hand, blitz a foe with pressure and volume and finish like a seasoned professional. Another fighter who comes to mind when finding a Nery comparison is lightweight titlist Robert Easter, Jr. Although Easter is an orthodox fighter, both boxers often give up their height, like fighting on the inside and have a significant wingspan that can hurt opponents who think that they're out of range.
Nery has very good footwork. He uses angles well and turns opponents to create openings. He almost always comes in behind a punch. He's much better going forward then fighting off of the back foot. When letting his hands go, he loses a responsible defensive posture and can be countered fairly easily.
Very few of Nery's punches are straight. He throws long, looping hooks, often from unconventional angles. Even his left cross can have a hitch to it. This aspect of his style is both a blessing and a curse as opponents are often unprepared for his unique offensive arsenal but they can also beat him to the punch and counter him cleanly. Although many of his punches from range aren't straight, he still has deceptively good hand speed (with one notable exception which I'll talk about below). His punches come much quicker once he starts to throw in combination.
Strengths: power, reach, body punching, finishing ability, footwork and aggressive temperament
Weakness: Defensive holes – most glaringly, failing to return his hands to a defensively responsible position after throwing; leaning forward before throwing punches; accuracy and counterpunching
Best punches: Left uppercut and right hook to the body
Worst punch: Straight left hand
Stylistic quirks: There's no sugar-coating it; Nery has a terrible straight left hand. Leaning over towards his opponent before he throws it, the shot is 100% telegraphed. It's also slow and not terribly accurate. It's the only punch he throws where he lacks confidence. Most fighters easily duck under it. His better opponents can counter it at will with whatever punch they feel comfortable throwing. (He was dropped in his last fight by a short, counter right.)
Nery also gets very wild after he thinks that he has hurt an opponent. On one hand, this characteristic makes him an exciting TV fighter; yet, it also makes him susceptible to a sharp counterpuncher, or someone who can lay traps on him. At this point in his career, Nery seems uninterested in throwing when an opponent pushes him back. And he's an indifferent counterpuncher; he'll trade with an opponent but if a foe can get off first, Nery more often than not will try to smother, evade or block shots rather than throw back.
One other interesting note: Nery throws two different right hooks. His hook to the body is sharp, quick and pulverizing. When throwing to the head, it's a much more looping shot. However, it can be a devastating shot because of his substantial reach and his ability to throw it from numerous angles. Many of Nery's opponents don't see his wide hook coming.
When Nery is at his best: He's stalking, coming forward and using movement and his jab to get into range. He unloads with hooks (he also throws a left hook to the body) and uppercuts to inflict maximum damage. He'll throw four- and five-punch combinations and overwhelm an opponent with his volume, pressure and power. He's deadly when he gets a foe against the ropes, working the head and body and leaving enough distance to operate.
When Nery is vulnerable: It starts out when an opponent figures out how to counter him. It could be with a straight right, a left hook, a southpaw right hook or an uppercut. He's essentially vulnerable to any big power punch. To this point, he hasn't faced the type of dynamic punchers that could knock him out but this is a real problem as he steps up his competition level. In particular, an uppercut would be a devastating counter against him because he leans forward with his chin exposed fairly regularly. He also could be susceptible to an excellent jab-and-mover. If Nery gets beaten to the punch, he becomes far less formidable than when he initiates his own offense.
Could he win a title? Yes
How far can he go? At 22, Nery still has time to improve. Refreshingly, he's faced a number of solid pros throughout his development, including former title challengers. He needs to further refine his straight left hand and he could learn to be a tad more disciplined when exchanging.
Nery finds himself in a sweet spot in the bantamweight division. The two best boxers at 118 lbs. over the last five years, Shinsuke Yamanaka and Anselmo Moreno, are both getting up there in age and have already started to decline. Jamie McDonnell might be moving up to 122. Lee Haskins runs hot and cold. Zolani Tete remains an impressive fighter but there are multiple paths to acquiring a title without going through him.
A knockout artist, like a prime Yamanaka, would've given Nery all sorts of problems. If a fighter can retain his composure in the pocket against Nery, he could have a lot of success. However, Nery has more than enough physical ability, power and athleticism to trouble the current crop of bantamweights. He might not become a pound-for-pound-level fighter but bantamweight is a relatively thin division in terms of depth; he'll have his chances.
I'd expect Nery to remain at the world-level for a number of years but unless he can make a number of key adjustments, he'll always be vulnerable to a good counterpuncher or a pure boxer who can consistently beat him to the punch. Nevertheless, Nery certainly is one exciting TV fighter and his style would be catnip to blood-and-guts fight fans. He could pick up a rabid following in short order.
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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