The main event pits interim WBA 140-pound champ Marcos Maidana against another undefeated Dominican in Victor Cayo. Factors include:
Adaptability: Maidana's approach shifts according to the opponent's style. He used an all-out attack against Andreas Kotelnik's European style, averaging 103.4 punches per round and 62.2 power shots. Maidana lost a split decision despite edges of 1,241-655 (total punches), 324-229 (connects) and 259-140 (power connects). Kotelnik's accuracy edge (35-27.6 overall) may have been a factor but the fight site (Germany) was likely decisive. William Gonzalez's aggression brought out Maidana's marksmanship; he throttled down to 64.7 punches per round but landed 36 percent overall and 44 percent of his power shots. Victor Ortiz's multi-faceted skills and southpaw style slowed Maidana's attack to 49 per round and limited him to 25.2 percent power accuracy, so variety should prove effective for Cayo.
Mystery: Not much is known about Cayo beyond his 10-rounder over Julio Diaz, his first "step-up" fight.. At 5-11 he's two inches taller but showed solid body punching in stopping Mercedes Nova with a second-round right after doubling Nova's output (132-77 overall, 99-56 power) and out-landing him 27-17. His sharp punching opened a fight-stopping first-round cut below Arturo Morua's mouth. Cayo's nine-round decision over Noe Bolanos revealed more. First, he likes to switch. Second, he likes to stay active and pot-shot from the outside. He averaged 67.8 punches to Bolanos' 44.3 in out-landing him 211-101 (total), 63-12 (jabs) and 148-89 (power) and a hook scored a second-round knockdown. Against Diaz, Cayo worked at long-range to start, traded in the trenches the middle rounds and sailed to victory. He posted edges of 202-169 (overall) and 182-145 (power) but tellingly was out-jabbed 24-20 despite height and reach edges. The jab is not a big tool for Cayo, but he'll need it to hold off Maidana.
Prediction: Cayo has two fatal habits. One, both hands are too low. Two, he spreads out both arms either when he is hit solidly or whenever he feels in command. Such bravado will mean curtains against Maidana, who will win in round five.
For Ali Funeka, will the third time be the charm Saturday night in Las Vegas or will he once again be cursed?
"Rush Hour" ran into two roadblocks in his two 2009 title shots - majority decisions. On Valentine's Day, Funeka suffered a heartbreaking setback to Nate Campbell because of two knockdowns but his November 28 "draw" against Joan Guzman is already a candidate for the decade's worst decision.
The uproar was such that Funeka-Guzman II was made with the vacant IBF belt again at stake. Will it be repeat for Funeka or redemption for Guzman? The numbers from fight one offers insight.
Guzman's blueprint: Guzman performed well early by getting inside Funeka's reach, using snake-charmer moves to evade the incoming and striking with precise body shots. Guzman prevailed 18-11 overall and 17-2 (power connects) in round one and mounted 16-5 and 14-0 bulges in the second. Meanwhile, Guzman limited Funeka's volume to 59 and 54 and his overall connect percentages to 19 and 9 while hitting Funeka at 40 and 42 percent (overall) and 44 and 52 percent (power). Guzman must be elusive and efficient. Over time, these tactics will spark frustration and more chances to strike.
Funeka's blueprint: Volume. The fight turned in round three when Funeka out-punched Guzman 66-25 overall and from then on it was off to the races. Funeka averaged 79 punches per round to Guzman's 41over the final 10 rounds where he amassed 232-129 (overall), 128-29 (jabs) and 104-100 (power) advantages. Funeka's output was consistent while Guzman's experienced peaks and valleys. Guzman was in the 40s and 50s from rounds three through nine, the 20s and 30s in rounds nine to 11 and back up to 54 in the 12th while Funeka's was regularly in the 80s, peaking at 101 in the eighth. In most minds, Funeka won the fight in rounds 8-11, out-landing Guzman 116-47 overall, 60-7 in jabs and 56-40 in power shots.
Prediction: Funeka showed he could execute over a longer period and he has the anatomy to impose it. The Dominican must fight perfectly to win and at 33 he is past his best. There's worrisome mileage on Joan's odometer- his last nine fights have gone the distance. Funeka by unanimous decision.