At age 22, Thomas Dulorme is one of boxing's rising young stars. His height, reach, hand speed, technique and power make him his sport's equivalent of a five-tool player. While he has proven his quality against the usual assortment of journeymen and overmatched foes, Dulorme will take the next step toward his ultimate fate Saturday when he meets his best opponent to date -- Argentine bomber Luis Carlos Abregu (33-1, 27 KO).
Will Dulorme clear this hurdle or will Abregu force him to stumble? Their respective CompuBox histories tell the following tales:
Dulorme's Evolution: In scoring 10 straight knockouts, Dulorme fought just parts of 18 rounds but in his last five -- beginning with a 10-round decision over ex-champ DeMarcus Corley -- saw Dulorme fight 37 rounds. Along the way the native of St. Maarten now living in Puerto Rico changed his approach from mad bomber to all-around boxer.
In his most recent fight against sturdy Yoryi Estrella (W 10), Dulorme executed a disciplined blueprint that was centered around a busy jab (36.7 per round) that set up accurate power punches (48.9 percent) while also limiting Estrella's success (20.9 percent overall, 16.3 percent jabs, 22.7 percent power). The result was a shutout on all three cards and connect gulfs of 221-76 (total), 84-17 (jabs) and 137-59 (power).
Dulorme also showed extra wrinkles in his game against Alberto Herrera (KO 7) by attacking the body (74 of his 147 power connects -- or 50.3 percent -- targeted the flanks) and he demonstrated patience as he methodically picked the lock. He enjoyed similarly lopsided connect gaps (163-56 total, 16-3 jabs and 147-53 power) and was both effective in hitting (36.2 percent overall, 43.4 percent power) and not being hit (21.1 percent overall, 23.5 percent power).
He was particularly effective with left hooks to the body followed by left uppercuts to the jaw, an unusual combination that promises to riddle many opponents' defenses. In both fights, Dulorme spent extended periods fighting from the southpaw stance and against Estrella he performed so fluidly and effectively that one has to wonder whether he's a converted lefty.
This metamorphosis from all-out puncher to skillful boxer-puncher will come in handy against the brutish Abregu, who will come at him from all angles and will demand a punishing pace.
The Tucuman Tornado: Abregu is a powerfully built welterweight who fights best one way -- straight ahead and throwing heavy-handed grenades. If he gets his way strategically he is dangerous. Abregu overwhelmed Pedro Verdu (KO 5) with an 80.5-punch-per-round attack that wasn't particularly accurate (23.4 percent overall, 33.1 percent power) but got the job done (connect edges of 85-23 overall, 20-5 jabs and 65-18 power).
Irving Garcia fought evenly with Abregu for three rounds but the South American's persistent 72.8-per-round pace eventually took its toll as he out-landed Garcia 92-69 overall and 70-23 power en route to a fourth round stoppage. Richard Gutierrez got the same treatment in a 10-round loss (63.2 per round and connect bulges of 216-119 total, 71-46 jabs and 145-73 power).
Potential Vulnerabilities: Timothy Bradley proved that skills can slow the Abregu train, for he held Abregu to 48.6 punches per round with a jab-oriented attack (58 percent of his 531 punches were jabs) that set up 43 percent power accuracy and connect advantages of 159-93 (total), 64-22 (jabs) and 95-71 (power). Bradley's defense limited Abregu to 16 percent overall, 8.5 percent jabs and 21.8 percent power.
Garcia showed Abregu can be hit with jabs, for he landed 40.4 percent of them (46 of 114) before being stopped. Also, Abregu's chin is reachable: Gutierrez scored a second round knockdown and Garcia scored two of his own. But Abregu is resilient, for he ended up winning both fights.
Finally, Abregu's engine sputters near the end of fights. Abregu averaged 71 punches over the first seven against Gutierrez but plunged to 44.6 in rounds 8-10. Against David Estrada, Abregu's averaged 87.5 punches over the first eight but slipped to 63 in the last two. Both drop-offs also yielded Abregu's only single-digit connect totals of the bout. Some may say Abregu was coasting but others may suggest stamina problems. That may prove troublesome if he gets into the later rounds against Dulorme.
Prediction: Dulorme appears to have the tools to win either by spectacular knockout or workmanlike decision. Abregu's path to victory comprises of a single road -- all-out aggression and power. With more options at his disposal and superior talent, Dulorme will notch the "W" and may well add a "KO" to the resume.