A Clash of Heads Draws Blood, and Brings About a Draw

by Kieran Mulvaney

Vanes Martirosyan, Erislandy Lara - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

A clash of heads and a nasty gash above the eye of Vanes Martirosyan brought a premature end to the junior middleweight’s clash with Erislandy Lara on Saturday night. If one of the two men is to emerge as the official challenger to the belt worn by Mexico’s Saul Alvarez, he will have to do so via a rematch, after Saturday’s aborted clash resulted in a technical draw.

Martirosyan, 32-0-1 (20 KOs), began the contest brightly, attacking Lara from the outset, looking to close the gap between himself and his foe and land solid right hands behind stiff lefts. Lara, 17-1-2 (11 KOs), appeared initially discomfited by Martirosyan’s aggression, reluctant to mix it up or allow his opponent to close within striking range. Lara’s relative paucity of professional bouts belies his extensive international amateur experience, and he used that experience to judge the distance to his opponent and to anticipate when Martirosyan sought to close that distance. Each time Martirosyan took a half-step forward to put himself in punching range, Lara took a half step back, and then moved to the side so that his foe’s punches fell short or glanced off his shoulders.

For the first several rounds, however, Lara did enough only to reduce the effectiveness of Martirosyan’s punches without offering much return fire of his own. That began to change in the fifth, as Lara, having seen plenty of what his foe had to offer and beginning to find it wanting, started to time Martirosyan’s assaults and meet them with short, sharp, straight counter left hands. By the seventh, that timing was almost perfect, and Lara was landing virtually at will, using Martirosyan’s aggression against him by steering the Armenian-American’s face onto his fist. In the eighth, Lara was even beginning to step forward with his punches, turning aggressor for the first time in the contest.

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CompuBox Analysis: Martirosyan vs. Lara

by CompuBox

The life cycle of every prospect eventually reaches a crossroads where everyone finds out whether he has the ingredients to move on to the highest levels of the sport. Julio Cesar Chavez's long apprenticeship arrived at that crescendo against Sergio Martinez and Vanes Martirosyan's will take place Saturday in a final title eliminator against another amateur standout in Erislandy Lara.

Factors that may influence the outcome can be found in their respective CompuBox pasts, which will be chronicled here:

Lara Versus Height: The 5-9 Lara will concede three inches to Martirosyan but the good news for the Cuban is that he has fared well against taller fighters. During his majority decision "loss" to the 6-1 Paul Williams, Lara overcame "The Punisher's" punishing 87.2 punch-per-round pace with excellent accuracy (42%-19% total, 28%-14% jabs, 49%-21% power) to forge connect advantages of 224-220 (total), 46-39 (jabs) and 178-161 (power) despite throwing nearly half the punches (530 to 1,047).

Lara destroyed the 6-1 Ronald Hearns in 94 seconds, landing 48% overall (12 of 25) and 77% of his power punches (10 of 13). In his most recent outing against long, lean volume-puncher Freddy Hernandez, Lara duplicated the dynamics he encountered against Williams, for he threw far less (710-561) but crafted dominant connect gaps (246-128 total, 29-13 jabs, 217, 115) with excellent accuracy (44%-18% total, 13%-6% jabs and 64%-23% power). Lara counteracts height with supreme timing and given Vanes' chin vulnerabilities that may play a decisive role in the final result. 

See more Compubox analysis of Vanes Martirosyan vs. Erislany Lara on HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: Garcia vs. Barros

by CompuBox

Unlike most young fighters, Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia is never in a hurry. Since turning pro in 2006 Garcia has methodically dismantled every hurdle set in front of him, resulting in a 29-0 (25 KO) record and a top spot in the world rankings. The final step toward his first chance at a major belt will take place Saturday against someone who has already held a strap -- former WBA "regular" featherweight king Jonathan Barros, who lost by decision to IBF junior lightweight titlist Juan Carlos Salgado in his last fight.

Will Garcia successfully clear this last hurdle or will Barros force him to stumble? Their respective CompuBox histories offer the following points for consideration:

Garcia's Slow Boil: The 24-year-old Garcia prefers to start slowly and refuses to speed up until he's absolutely certain he has solved his opponent -- and not a moment sooner. Against Bernabe Concepcion, Garcia averaged 47.3 punches per round over the first three rounds, going 29 of 142 (20.4%) overall and just 7 of 28 (25%) in power shots. But from round four onward Garcia turned up the heat, firing 71 punches per round and out-landing Concepcion 83-26 overall and 49-16 in power shots to register the seventh round TKO.

See more Compubox analysis of Mike Garcia vs. Jonathan Barros on HBO.com.

Garcia Bides Time, Awaits Big Time

by Kieran Mulvaney

Mikey Garcia - Photo Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

Miguel Angel ‘Mikey’ Garcia has all the makings of a boxing star. For a start, he comes from good fighting stock: his brother and co-trainer is former titlist and current Trainer of the Year Robert Garcia, whose other charges include Nonito Donaire and Brandon Rios.

Perhaps not surprisingly for one who has grown up breathing in the big-fight atmosphere, he looks completely unruffled in the ring, with a relaxed posture behind a solid defensive guard. He does not press his opponents over-eagerly, but takes his time, working his way in behind a long, stiff jab (at 5’6” he is tall for a featherweight) and using a crushing right hand to break his foe down steadily – or, if the opportunity present itself, suddenly.

But for the last year or so, Garcia's been idling in the waiting room for the train to stardom leave the station. After garnering attention with impressive stoppages of Cornelius Lock, Olivier Lontchi and the previously undefeated Matt Remillard, Garcia was slated to face fellow contender Miguel Beltran in the co-main event to Julio Cesar Chavez’s June 2011 victory over Sebastian Zbik. Beltran withdrew at the last minute, leaving Garcia to overwhelm the overmatched but determined late substitute Rafael Guzman. Beltran went on to fight for a title, and then engaged in a Fight of the Year candidate in his loss to Roman Martinez on the Chavez-Sergio Martinez undercard on September 15.

Garcia, meanwhile, was treading water, beating up Juan Carlos Martinez and faded veterans Bernabe Concepcion and Mauricio Pastrana. His reward was slated to be a title fight this Saturday against the dangerous Orlando Salido, who twice in the space of twelve months went to Puerto Rico and knocked out local favorite Juan Manuel Lopez. But then Salido pulled out with an injury. The card, at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort, is going ahead, with the main event now an intriguing and important junior middleweight eliminator between Vanes Martirosyan and Erislandy Lara. Garcia, though, must play the waiting game again; although he remains on the card, he will now be taking on Argentina’s Jonathan Barros.

On the face of it, this is another opponent Garcia should bowl over. But even though Barros has dropped two of his last three, he went the distance in both losses against quality opponents Juan Carlos Salgado and Celestino Caballero. Indeed, his loss to Caballero came in a rematch after Barros had scored an upset over the former 122-pound title holder. The only other loss on the 38-bout Barros ledger is a creditable points defeat to unbeaten Yuriorkis Gamboa.

It is a fight Garcia should win. But it is the kind that, should he take his eye off the ball, he could lose. If he does so, he’ll be kicking his heels in the waiting room a while longer. But if he wins – and especially if he becomes the first man to stop Barros– then the train he’s been anxious to catch should come steaming into the station in the very near future.

Martirosyan and Lara Lead a Night of Fights with Potential to Shake Up Divisions

by Hamilton Nolan

Vanes Martirosyan, Erislandy Lara

Vanes “The Nightmare” Martirosyan (32-0) has all the outward signifiers of a champion. He’s trained by Freddie Roach. He was a 2004 Olympian. He’s undefeated. He’s a long-armed and athletic puncher, he moves well, and uses his reach to his advantage. His only problem is that in a seven-year career, he hasn’t yet gotten around to fighting anyone he could brag about beating. With Erislandy Lara, he has finally signed on for a bout against an excellent fighter. And he may well regret it.

It’s not as if Martirosyan hasn’t beaten anyone decent. He whipped rugged local New York favorite Joe Greene at Yankee Stadium in 2010. He’s decisioned the tricky Kassim Ouma, and TKO’d the old warhorse Saul Roman. But Vanes has earned the reputation of loudly challenging top fighters, and then failing to sign the line to actually make the fights happen. He has at times appeared willing to waste his prime years on mediocre competition. There’s no better proof of that than the fact that his last two fights -- at the height of his reputation, when he’s been mentioned as a legitimate opponent for the top 154-pounders in the world -- have been against Richard Gutierrez and Troy Lowry. For someone of Martirosyan’s talents, that amounts to taking a year off.