The 160-pound clash between reigning Fighter of the Year Sergio Martinez and longtime WBO junior middleweight king Sergiy Dzinziruk is one of mirror images.
Both are speedy southpaw stylists who have excelled into their mid-30s due to their emphasis on fundamentals.
Martinez, 35, hasn't suffered a definitive loss since 2000 (KO by 7 Antonio Margarito) while Dzinziruk, 34, is a perfect 37 for 37 in his 12-year career. Martinez is a better than 4-1 favorite.
Both have relocated their training camps to the U.S. Argentina's Martinez had trained in Oxnard, Calif., before moving to the Miguel Cotto training camp in Florida while Ukrainian Dzinziruk's base is in Los Angeles under new trainer Buddy McGirt.
Finally, each knows what it's like to toil in obscurity. With his knockout-of-the-year performance against Paul Williams in December, Martinez's star is at its brightest while Dzinziruk wants to dim that star while creating one of his own.
Each man's CompuBox history reveals factors that could shape the outcome.
A Left-Handed Compliment: Because the majority of their rivals are right-handed, southpaws usually struggle with fellow lefties but that isn't the case with Martinez or Dzinziruk.
Two of Martinez's last three fights were against Williams, who won a majority decision in the first fight due to his higher volume (979-638 total, 348-192 jabs and 631-446 power) and raw connects (300-254 total, 94-71 jabs and 206-183 power). But Martinez forged a strong case with his superior accuracy (40 percent overall, 37 percent jabs and 41 percent power punches) and nimbler defense that held "The Punisher" to 31 percent (total), 27 percent (jabs) and 33 percent (power).
The rematch again saw Williams build an early statistical lead (105-76 total punches, 24-11 thrown jabs, 81-65 attempted power punches, 33-23 total connects and 31-21 power connects) but "Maravilla's" marvelous overhand left changed everything, not just inside the ring but how Martinez is perceived. This presents a real danger: Will that KO - and the attention Martinez received from it - cause him to alter his style? If he does, it could play into Dzinziruk's hands.
Dzinziruk's last southpaw encounter was when he won the WBO title from Daniel Santos, whose physique (5-11 1/2, 74-inch reach) closely resembles Martinez's (5-10, 76
inches). The Ukrainian lived up to his "Razor" nickname as he landed 48 percent of his total punches (237 of 495), 49 percent of his jabs (186 of 379) and 44 percent of his power shots (51 of 116). He held Santos to 25 percent overall (227 of 910) and 19 percent of his jabs (121 of 633) but did taste 38 percent of Santos' power shots (106 of 277). That leads to the next category:
Hit and Be Hit?: Despite their technical prowess, both can be reached with power shots. In three CompuBox-tracked fights at 154 Martinez was more elusive. Alex Bunema connected just 21 percent of the time while Kermit Cintron (28 percent) and Russell Jordan (32.8 percent) fared better.
But in his three 160-pound fights - against top competition - Martinez showed vulnerability. Williams hit Martinez with 37.8 percent (first fight) and 38.3 percent (second fight) of his power punches while Pavlik scored 44.8 percent of the time. What saved Martinez was that Pavlik averaged 16.2 power shots per round to Martinez's 32.
Dzinziruk's chin is also reachable. Lukas Konecny - who pushed Dzinziruk to a majority decision - landed 44 percent of his power punches while Santos (38.3) and Daniel Dawson (38.8) also saw success even as Dzinziruk thrived offensively. But when Dzinziruk fights at long range those numbers decline (Sebastian Lujan and Alisultan Nadirbegov 28 percent, Joel Julio 23 percent and Carlos Nascimento 19 percent). Although his 68-inch reach is eight inches shorter he is capable of fighting well on the retreat and he should do it here.
Reaching a Peak: Both are coming off superlative performances. Although Williams out-stripped Martinez numerically in the rematch his 21st landed power punch vaulted him into the boxing stratosphere. Meanwhile, Dzinziruk is coming off his best performance since beating Santos in 2005 with his 10th round TKO over Dawson. He landed 49.5 percent overall (359 of 725), 46.7 percent of his jabs (216 of 463) and 54.6 percent of his power shots (143 of 262) against the late-sub's tailor-made aggression and durability. More amazingly, this performance came after an 18-month layoff.
Prediction: Despite Dzinziruk's low profile in the States, this is a dangerous fight for Martinez. Dzinziruk is taller, technically sound, quick-handed and mentally tough. But Dzinziruk lacks Martinez's variety, imagination and big-fight experience. Martinez by competitive but unanimous decision.