ERIK "EL TERRIBLE" MORALES (51-6, 35 KOs) vs. MARCOS MAIDANA (29-2, 27 KOs)
STRENGTHS OF BOTH FIGHTERS
- A tall boxer-puncher with an excellent left jab and long, hard right cross, Morales has both height and reach advantages over Maidana.
- Despite his reach advantage, Morales has been known to go inside, as he did against Barrera, where he is equally as effective as he is on the outside.
- Uses legs well and is able to move laterally quickly, movements which could give Maidana problems.
- Morales possesses two great assets; a tremendous heart and tough whiskers, which he will need against Maidana.
- A pressure fighter who comes to fight, Maidana is ferocious and relentless.
- Has a dynamite-laden right hand, as witnessed by his 27 KO's.
- Maidana claims he can "go all night," as he proved against Amir Khan, coming back from a first-round knockdown to outslug Khan down the stretch, landing 57 power shots in the last three rounds to Khan's 24.
- Maidana has a new trainer, Rudy Perez, and could make a difference in the fight.
WEAKNESSES OF BOTH FIGHTERS
- Morales, coming back from a two-and-a-half year "retirement," has looked rusty and slow despite winning his three comeback fights.
- A below average defensive fighter, Morales doesn't move his head well and keeps his chin up and exposed and also holds his hands wide apart, giving Maidana an inviting target down the middle.
- Morales can be lured into a slugging contest, which could prove to be a mistake against the heavy-handed Maidana.
- Morales doesn't fight well when backed into corners or into the ropes, attempting to lean straight back--a potential recipe for disaster.
- Morales will have no trouble finding Maidana who will be right in front of him the whole fight.
- Movement gives Maidana trouble as Amir Khan proved, Maidana unable to cut off the ring well, instead following his opponent around.
- Maidana is not as effective inside as he is from the outside, having difficulty against DeMarcus Corley.
- Maidana goes right-hand crazy and may leave himself open to Morales counter left.
WHAT EACH MUST DO TO WIN
- Morales must use his height and reach advantage and keep his loooong jab in Maidana's face, not only to create openings for his own right, but to keep the ever-pressuring Maidana off him.
- Morales must move against Maidana, circling and making him move laterally, keeping the fight at long range and in mid-ring and not let Maidana back him into the ropes.
- Morales must fight a disciplined fight and not allow himself to get caught up in a slugging match with the stronger Maidana.
- Maidana must move with Morales, staying on top of him and force him to go backward into the ropes.
- Maidana must try and draw Morales into a slugging match early, one which Morales would only be too happy to oblige--to his detriment.
- Maidana must parry Morales' long jabs and move in, all the better to land his heavier punches.
ROBERT "THE GHOST " GUERRERO (28-1-1, 18 KO's) vs. MICHAEL KATSIDIS (27-3, 22 KO's)
STRENGTHS OF BOTH FIGHTERS
- A tall rangy fighter with excellent boxing skills, including an all-reaching jab.
- Thin as a rail but twice as tough, Guerrero is a fast hard puncher who possesses great inside power and can trade, toe-to-toe, with anyone in the lightweight division.
- A dangerous left hander, Guerrero can adapt to any style and any opponent.
- A ball's-out, damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead fighter, Katsidis is a pressure fighter always on the attack.
- Keeps coming on, even when hurt, as he did against Joel Casamayor, coming back from two first-round knockdowns to floor Casamayor in the same round.
- Never in a dull fight, Katsidis makes his opponents stand and deliver, forcing them into a pier sixer or be overwhelmed by his fire power.
WEAKNESSES OF BOTH FIGHTERS
- Has been criticized in the past for his lackluster performances, which he cannot afford versus the all-offensive style of Katsidis.
- His defense is sometimes questionable, especially when he is on the inside.
- Guerrero has leap-frogged divisions, going from featherweight to junior welterweight, leaving some to question whether lightweight is the right weight for him.
- A take-two-to-give-one fighter, Katsidis charges in to the point of recklessness.
- Katsidis squares up when he charges in, leaving himself open to counters, especially from a left-hander like Guerrero.
- Katsidis has cut in previous fights, as he did against Juan Manuel Marquez, ending the fight prematurely.
WHATEACH MUST DO TO WIN
- Guerrero must fight his own fight and not be suckered into a toe-to-toe battle with the stronger Katsidis early in the fight.
- Guerrero must use his excellent right jab to set up his own left and to keep Katsidis at arm's length.
- Guerrero should look to take Katsidis into the later rounds where his overall boxing skills can prevail.
- Katsidis must apply pressure from the "git-go," forcing Guerrero to become more defensive-minded than offensive-minded.
- While his defense is his offense, Katsidis must be mindful of Guerrero's counter from the southpaw side when he charges in.
- Katsidis must avoid "squaring up" when he charges in but come in an orthodox manner, giving Guerrero less of a target to hit.
Bert Sugar is co-author, with Teddy Atlas, of the new book. "The Ultimate Book of Boxing Lists," available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Border's and all book stores now.