The Weekend TV Cheat Sheet: Part One - Feb. 3, 2011
By Martin Mulcahey, MaxBoxing (Feb 3, 2011) Special to Doghouse Boxing
This weekend’s lineup of boxers stands in direct contrast to last week’s marquee fight featuring Timothy Bradley besting Devon Alexander. That fight was about one boxer confirming his pound-for-pound status, whereas Friday and Saturday’s events highlight the future of boxing with blue-chip prospects getting their shots at national airtime. Because of the amount of fights cards this week, four in all, the TV Cheat Sheet will be broken into two segments. Today’s previews the Telefutura and a FOX Sports telecast (that more people watch on FOX Sports Espanol because it has a regular airtime there), which only a few regional FOX Sports channels carry consistently. In tomorrow’s Cheat Sheet, the more marquee ESPN2 and Showtime events are covered.

February 4th (Friday), 2011
At Coliseo Felix Mendez Acevedo, Puerto Rico
(Telefutura) Michael Perez (11-0-1) vs. Marcos Herrera (6-3-1)
(Telefutura) Jayson Velez (14-0) vs. Juan Beltran (24-19-3)

Juan Beltran – 46-fight Mexican veteran just turned 32 and over his career, has losses in equal amounts to championship-caliber foes and hot prospects. In that span, has only scored one eyebrow-raising win, when Beltran defeated borderline contender Akihiko Nago in the Japanese boxer’s only visit to America. Most of the time, Beltran loses to quality boxers and racked up his 24 wins against opponents with a combined record of 46-110-5. Remains in good physical shape and shows adeptness at switching weight classes fighting between 119 and 131 pounds over the last six months. Went eight rounds with former champ Eric Morel, less than two months ago, but Morel looked like he wanted to shake off rust and go rounds. Beltran is most troubled by speed now, unable to deal with hand speed as his reflexes slow down and feet begin to plod in retreat. Because Beltran lacks punching power, is most effective crowding opponents, fighting well on the inside where his strength (different than power) and muscling shoulders push youngsters back who get lazy and stay at close range. Works the body well, when given half a chance, but also stopped via a body shot by Jonathan Oquendo in a visit to Puerto Rico in October of 2009. If opponents cannot control range with their feet or fists, Beltran can be a handful once he puts his head to an opponent’s chest and digs in. Otherwise, a lack of speed and accuracy doom Beltran to the loss column.

Jayson Velez – A hard-punching prospect to the body and head, this 22-year-old could develop into the star signing of Miguel Cotto’s fledgling promotional company. His long arms catch the eye first, much like recently deposed Puerto Rican champion Rocky Martinez, followed by the way he extends or shortens his punch to reach the target on the fly. Nicknamed “The Marvel,” Velez looks ready to make a jump in competition this year after serving a good apprenticeship, knocking out 11 of 14 opponents. Also in Velez’s favor is a work ethic that has seen him move down from 126 pounds to 122, despite only fighting three times in 2010 vice six times in 2009. Was a good amateur, recording a 78-15 résumé, and shows adaptability to the style of boxing needed in the unpaid ranks, only stopping 15 opponents there. There, he relied on his accuracy to score points, vice his string of kayos in the pros. Started boxing at age 11, winning a bronze at the Junior Olympics, and comes from a boxing family. At 5’8”, has great size for a bantamweight and was a good basketball player, which is where he probably picked up his good lateral movement for cutting off the ring. Has a more of a classic stance than most Hispanic boxers, straight up bending at the waist and with both hands held high, but gets great leverage on punches that travel in a downward trajectory. Straight right looks like his favorite punch but he can throw a mean looping hook that he unfurls to the distance needed. Not as fluid or compact as other prospects but Velez has the pop to keep foes at bay until he reaches that rhythmic balance to create offense out of defense.

Verdict – There is little uncertainty about the outcome but this fight will test Velez’s hand speed and accuracy. Velez likes to pick his shots from range and not swarm opponents and smother his offense, so he will need to be accurate and hide his punches behind a jab to get to a veteran like Beltran. If this fight were six rounds, I would go with a decision win but over eight rounds, Velez will find the range and stop Beltran via kayo or cuts by the seventh or final round. The youngster is simply too long and strong.

Marcos Herrera – 22-year-old Colorado-based volume puncher enters the fight on a 1-3-1 slide, created by Herrera making a habit of stepping into tough fights on three weeks’-or-less notice. Gave local attraction Shawn Gallegos and prospect Francisco Reyes good early scraps but could not sustain his momentum, losing decisions for a lack of consistency. Has been boxing since age ten, yet Herrera remains predictable on offense and overly reliant on straight right hands and a flicking jab. Lack of head movement shows on defense, where his whole upper body is snapped back when hit in full retreat. In the amateurs, Herrera was a state Golden Gloves champion (estimated 60-25 record), in an underrated New Mexico system, and fell in the second round of the 2006 Nationals. Only heralded Ugandan prospect Sharif Bogere has been able to stop Herrera, in the second round, and Herrera did hand former amateur star Cortez Bey his only blemish with a majority decision draw. Though young, Herrera only averages four fights a year and his willingness to accept last-minute bouts reveals a lack of expectations for his future as any kind of prospect. Herrera is a good young opponent-type, who delivers good fights before his ambition is zapped by a lack of focus in decision losses.

Michael Perez – Tonight is Perez’s second straight fight in the hometown of his father (of Lares, Puerto Rico), where he drew a good crowd last December in a Telefutura event. Full name is Michael Angelo Perez, so calling himself “The Artist” shows he is just as much creative outside of the ring as in it. Perez entered the pros with a good amateur pedigree, as a 2008 National Golden Gloves champ who won the Junior Olympic National title as well. Came up in a newly rejuvenated and talent deep New Jersey amateur system. Began boxing at age seven and Perez finished 13 years later with a 112-10 amateur record representing America in international competitions. Turned pro at 18, while still in high school, with his father (a former boxer himself) taking over the managerial reins. Says Felix Trinidad and Pernell Whitaker are his idols and somehow manages to mix those divergent skill sets pretty well. Bounces back-and-forth between stalker and a retreating thinker who sets traps. Golden Boy Promotions has big plans for Perez, along with Danny Garcia and Peter Quillin, as a cherry-picked East Coast talent. GBP signed Perez to fill seats at monthly events, starting in 2012 and running for three years, at the new Brooklyn Arena. Perez credits boxing for his escaping gang violence, slightly more dangerous than sparring with a rough Pawel Wolak and former champion Yuri Foreman. Earned a reputation as a hard worker (also mentoring at-risk high school students), which has brought about the timing that accentuates his impressive hand speed. Draw on Perez’s record is inconsequential, as it happened from a headbutt in the first round of a bout he controlled. Is a boxer first and foremost, whose punches sting because of their speed and accuracy, instead of natural power. Does everything lithely, with chin tucked and lead jab snapping forth, combinations flow from a perfect stance and with a good thought process behind the blows.

Verdict – Herrera needs the cooperation of opponents to work his inside game and there is no way a smart and speedy Perez gets drawn into the trenches. Using a baseball analogy, Perez paints the strike zone with a variety of punches and uses a straight-down-the-middle fastball as his change-up. Look for Perez to start in a measured fashion to figure out Herrera but land a couple stiff punches that keep Herrera honest and unwilling to just rush in. At mid-fight, a three-punch combination puts Herrera on the canvas; a follow-up flurry ends the fight less stylishly than the combination that put Herrera in trouble to start with.

February 5th (Saturday), 2011
At The Maywood Activity Center, Maywood, CA
(FOX Sports) Francisco Sierra (23-3) vs. Dyah Davis (18-2)
(FOX Sports) Oscar Meza (20-4) vs. Leo Martinez (15-14)

Leo Martinez – Chicago-based, Mexican-born veteran has been a pro for six years and enters the ring for the 30th time to matching his age. Is consistently beaten but not easily and only been stopped three times in 14 losses. Quality rounds have to be put in by foes and combination punches are needed to put Martinez into a state of confusion or acceptance. Scored an upset of undefeated New Yorican Joel Torres, where Martinez outlasted his foe and scored a last-round kayo. Aside from that form anomaly, has been a game loser against elite prospects like Matt Remillard, Almazbek Raiymkulov, and Arman Sargsyan. In his last outing, Martinez went ten rounds with rugged Dorin Spivey, showing determination in overcoming two standing eight-counts in the first round. Those rounds were the product of preparatory work in the gym and in every instance I have seen Martinez, he came in shape physically. Mentally, has become accustomed to losing but his effort belies that fact until he is convinced of his inferiority and begins to focus on crowding and holding schemes. Is an awkward foe, often off-balance and falling into his punches, whose right hand can do damage since it is short and crisp. Best described as an aggressive, come-forward guy that makes for good fights despite inevitable loss.

Oscar Meza – An unheralded Mexican youngster who scored an upset two years ago by winning a majority decision over Jorge Paez Jr. Seems to have legitimate pop in his punches, stopping 17 of 20 victims despite a lean musculature. Some of that high kayo ratio can be chalked up as a product of suspect opposition, with Meza rolling over inferior opponents and suffering four losses in bouts against a higher caliber of opponent. Lost in his two other American appearances, a fifth-round kayo at the hands of Brandon Rios and a mauling at the hands of Filipino prospect Mercito Gesta. In Meza’s notable victory over Paez Jr., he scored an early knockdown, a short, roundhouse right hand, and used his lanky frame to consistently strike and hurt Paez from the outside. Most of what Meza does positively is predicated on early power, as he only has two stoppages beyond the fourth round. In fact, Meza has never gone past eight rounds, so a 12-rounder against Gesta was an uncalled for leap of confidence. Meza got the better of Brandon Rios early as well, outworking the undefeated prospect before suffering a fifth-round knockdown that he did not recover from. Beyond the power, looks average, putting out a good straight jab but is too dependent on a right hand to follow it, not showing much imagination. Meza unravels as the rounds progress from a lack of variance, not a willingness to commit to punches or stamina issues. Meza is 1-2 against name prospects, so this result will be a good indication of his career path.

Verdict – I would not be shocked if Martinez pulls off an upset but Meza is just a bit more mentally stable to survive a late-round charge by Martinez. Meza does not see himself as a gatekeeper yet, whereas Martinez is well aware of his place and the first to accept who he is loses this fight. Meza will come to his realization a couple rounds after Martinez, thus escaping with a close victory.

Dyah Davis – Add another name to the trend of promoters and television channels using former great boxers’ progeny, who are trying their hands at boxing, mostly with little success. Dyah is the son of 1976 Olympic champion Howard Davis Jr., an outstanding amateur (more hyped than Sugar Ray Leonard and signed by CBS TV) who unsuccessful challenged for a professional world title three times. In his last fight, Dyah lost to an improving Aaron Pryor Jr., himself the son of a Hall-of-Famer, winning two rounds at best. Though not showing flash or flair when the bright lights are turned on, Davis got good reviews as a sparring partner for Bernard Hopkins, Allan Green, and supposedly dominated middleweight prospect David Lemieux in the gym, as well. Needs that seasoning sparring since Davis never had an amateur fight and started boxing late in his life at age 22. Is trying to catch up now and had some great teachers in his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., and now John David Jackson. What cannot be taught are the instincts to find openings after his solid jab has hit its target; there, Davis is hesitant and lacks aggression. At age 29, is leaving his physical prime but his hard work and a more experience can compensate for that. Tries too hard to emulate his father’s graceful style and looks for the perfect shot, trying to look pretty instead of working his hands more to create openings. That was seen in a fight against unbeaten Osumanu Adama, whom Davis knocked down twice in the first round but was unable to put away with a one-perfect-punch-at-a-time-strategy. That lead to a close decision win for Davis but one that could have been easier with more volume. Dropped other opponents, like Tyrone Watson, whom he lost a decision to, again displaying a lack of finishing skills. Davis has fast hands and, at 6’1”, the size to use those quick on the outside. On defense, is better than expected, often blocking punches or parrying them off, but does not follow up defensive moves with an offensive response. Dyah seems to have the pieces to the puzzle but is unable to see the openings to put them all together.

Francisco Sierra – A young Mexican slugger, 23-years-old, with a slay-or-be-slain attitude. Sierra enters with natural power, 21 of 23 victims kayoed, that stopped once-formidable (in the late 1990s) WBO titlist Jose Luis Lopez in the sixth round. Shocked American audiences with a brutally one-sided thrashing of Chicago prospect Don George, who looked like he was hit with a baseball bat, on ESPN2 last July. His other American fight was a telling one-round destruction at the fists of Edison Miranda, where Sierra got caught up in the moment, swinging for the fences from the opening bell. So who is Sierra; the guy that bludgeoned George or the one knocked out in a round by Edison Miranda? Sierra is not purely a banger, traveling the 12-round distance once and went ten rounds with mirror-image countryman Rigoberto Alvarez. Two of his losses were to Alvarez, who just has Sierra’s number. Aside from the aforementioned, his opposition has been mediocre with the exception of victories over useful blue-collar guys Henry Porras and Esteban Camou. Fought as high as 175 pounds but is at his best fighting at super middleweight. The reason for his setbacks is simple: absolutely no defense. When Sierra attempts to keep his arms up, he spreads them to punch and a lack of head movement makes it as if Sierra was framing his head with his arms to make a better target. 90-percent of the time, his left glove hangs low, nearly to his knees, and Sierra is too lanky to get his frame into a defensive posture to block punches. He eats straight right hands at times and jumps in with punches which leave him unable to react to short punches. At 6’1”, Sierra has size and length but little idea of how to use it and almost skips in with his jab instead of sticking his foot down to gain leverage. Whips punches to the body well, looking like a sidearm pitcher to get his body blows behind his foes’ elbows. Sierra is not pretty to watch but, when given space, can be dangerous.

Verdict – A tough fight to call, since Davis has the ability to exploit Sierra’s defensive flaws but does not take the chances needed to exploit those vulnerabilities. For me, this fight comes down to one thing…a fighter’s attitude. Sierra was born with it, while Davis has the DNA from a great amateur boxer but not the mindset. Dyah has success early in the fight but cannot hold off an unrelenting Sierra, who continues to win punches until breaking through in the fifth round. That should be the swing round, when everything begins to turn against Davis and he unravels. Davis is athletic and tough enough to last the rounds but probably suffers two knockdowns en route to a decision loss.

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