This past January 28, a double-header was staged with a rematch between then-WBC super featherweight titlist Francisco Vargas and ex-titlist Takashi Miura in mind. While Miura stopped Miguel Roman in 12, Vargas ran into a buzz-saw in Miguel Berchelt, who scored a blood-soaked 11th round stoppage to win Vargas' belt. Berchelt's performance was so action-packed that boxing may have come out ahead in terms of the matchup: A dynamic young titlist with two-fisted power looking to brighten his star against a proven former champ coming off his own pulsating KO win.
Mystery No More: Berchelt was largely unknown to the general boxing public, but Vargas drew out every bit of the youngster's talent in their scintillating war. Averaging 87.8 punches per round to Vargas' 95.7, Berchelt exploited Vargas' horrible defense by landing 45% overall, 30% jabs, 53% power and tender brows by opening cuts over both eyes with legal punches and a third over the left eye from a butt. His excellent jab (29.1 thrown/8.6 connects per round) further troubled Vargas, as did his surge over the final three rounds (139-58 overall, 27-16 jabs, 112-42 power). That soul-sapping finishing kick answered all questions about his stamina, queries prompted by the fact that Berchelt had not yet fought past the sixth entering the Vargas bout.
In all, they combined for 759 total connects (Berchelt led 429-330 overall), the fifth most ever recorded by CompuBox in a 130-pound fight, and 598 landed power shots (Berchelt prevailed 336-262), the fourth most at 130 in CompuBox history. A potential point of concern: Berchelt was hit by 44% of Vargas' power shots, and none of his six CompuBox-tracked opponents were southpaws like Miura. Also, Berchelt was largely a head-hunter against Vargas as only 44 of his 330 total connects and 43 of his 262 landed power shots hit the flanks. He'll need to be more versatile to beat Miura.
Back Into the Fire: Miura-Roman was billed as a potential Fight of the Year candidate and it more than lived up to the hype as Miura endured a strong start by Roman (132-101 overall and 119-86 power in round 1-6) before staging an inspired rally in round 10-12 (60-32 overall, 57-29 power) to score the stoppage. A telling stat: 432 of their combined 482 connects (90%) were power shots. (CompuBox avg.: 72%). But while Miura prevailed, there was reason to be concerned.
In the first six rounds, Miura averaged just 43.5 punches per round, which was similar to the 27 punches he threw in round one against common foe Vargas and the 46.7 he netted in the first three rounds of that fight. Additionally, though Miura's defense was better against Roman (31% overall, 35% power) than Vargas (38% overall, 27% jabs, 44% power) those numbers are still worrisome, especially against a sharp hitter like Berchelt, who averaged 39% overall, 26% jabs and 47% power in his six CompuBox-tracked fights and landed 43% overall, 30% jabs and 53% power against Vargas.
One potential saving grace could be Miura's body attack, which proved pivotal against Roman (86 of 228 total connects (38%) and was decent against Vargas (47 of 166 total connects- 28%). As stated above, Berchelt largely targets the head.
Inside the Numbers: Berchelt is not only busy, he's been accurate (32.6 landed per round- 38.6%) in his last 5 fights with a balanced attack. He landed 9.6 jabs per round (double weight class average) and landed 47.3% of his power shots (23 per round -- 10 more than weight class average) Opponents landed 34% of their power shots, a price to pay for his aggressiveness. Miura threw and landed around the weight class avg. for total punches in his last 6 fights. He's also accurate, landing 44.1% of his power shots. In fact, 16.9 of his 20.3 landed punches (83%) are power shots. CompuBox average: 72%. However, one important red flag: Miura’s opponents landed 37.4% of their power shots.
Prediction: Berchelt proved against Vargas that he can more than hold his own in a bomb-throwing war and Miura, though a battler, likely won't produce that level of heat. Versatility may be the key as Berchelt can box or slug well while Miura will have little choice but to engage and seek openings for his diamond-cutter left cross. Also, at 25, Berchelt is nearing his peak while the 33-year-old Miura may be past his thanks to several hard battles. Finally, despite the Vargas numbers, Berchelt is a good defender (he tasted just 19% overall, 10% jabs and 26% power in his five previous bouts) while Miura's defense is leaky.
Berchelt by TKO, probably in the later rounds.