More often than not, opposites attract in boxing and observers hope that will apply to Saturday's junior middleweight showdown between left-handed Cuban boxer Erislandy Lara and straight-ahead Mexican volume-puncher Alfredo Angulo. Both are highly rated contenders who are poised for a crack at one of the four major belts and their match will go a long way toward proving who is ready and who is not.
Factors that may sway the result can be found in their CompuBox profiles. Consider:
Lara vs. Volume: Angulo is perhaps the best volume-puncher at 154 today but the good news for Lara is that he's fared well against high-octane attacks. Although he officially "lost" to Paul Williams, the decision was so horrid that all three judges were suspended. That's because despite throwing far fewer punches over 12 rounds (530 for Lara, 1,047 for Williams), Lara's sharpness was impeccable -- 42% overall, 28% jabs and 49% power -- while Williams' was not (19% overall, 14% jabs, 21% power). Those dynamics added up to Lara connect advantages of 224-200 (total), 46-39 (jabs) and 178-161 (power) and a compelling case for victory.
In his most recent fight against Freddy Hernandez (W 10), Lara faced a 71-punch-per-round attack, above the 58.4 junior middleweight average. Again, Lara was extraordinarily precise as he landed 44% of his total punches and 64% of his power shots en route to connect advantages of 246-128 (total), 29-13 (jabs) and 217-115 (power). The Cuban's defense was also excellent as he tasted just 18% of Hernandez's overall punches, 6% of his jabs and 23% of his hooks, crosses and uppercuts. By way of comparison, the average junior middleweight absorbs 31% overall, 22% jabs and 37% power, so Lara's defensive numbers should be considered outstanding.
The only other Lara opponent to exceed the division average was Grady Brewer, who cranked out 69.8 punches per round before being stopped with 16 seconds remaining in the 10th and final round. Lara again was far out-punched (459-698) but came out way ahead in the final connect totals (166-93 total, 68-9 jabs, 98-84 power) and was more accurate (36%-13% total, 32%-2% jabs, 40%-31% power).
What all this proves is that Angulo has to do more than just throw punches for throwing's sake; he must add a dimension or two if he wants to win.
An Added Dimension?: For such an aggressive fighter, Angulo has a very active jab. In his last seven CompuBox-tracked fights Angulo averaged 38.6 jabs (#3 among active fighters- Malignaggi 46; V. Klitschko 40) thrown/ 6.5 landed per round -- way above the 24.7 junior middleweight average . He landed 17%. (wgt. class avg is 22% landed for jab, 5.4 landed per round). In his most recent fight against Jorge Silva, Angulo averaged 39 jabs per round and landed 19% of them, which helped fuel his extremely accurate power punching (52%).
But is the jab effective against southpaws? Not so much.
Fellow banger James Kirkland -- the only lefty on Angulo's profile -- effectively neutralized Angulo's jab by beating "Perro" at his own game. After overcoming a knockdown in round one, Kirkland went on to average 90.8 punches per round -- including 64 power shots -- and out-landed Angulo 206-74 (total), 51-13 (jabs) and 155-61 (power). Angulo threw just 19.7 jabs per round and landed 11% of them, which, in turn, led to a sub-par performance in power accuracy (29%).
So if Kirkland -- not exactly a ring scientist -- can neutralize Angulo's jab, what will the slick Lara do?
Dee-fense!: This may be the decisive factor in Lara's favor, for the Cuban is an excellent defender while Angulo is definitely not. In his last five CompuBox-tracked fights, Lara has been struck by a combined 20% of his opponents' total punches. Lara landed 34% of his total punches in those five fights giving him a +14 rating- tied for #5 among active fighters on CompuBox's plus/minus list. (Mayweather +24; Alvarez +18; Santa Cruz +16; Lara +14; Rigondeaux +14).
Angulo has a -1 rating in his last 7 fights. He landed 29% of his total punches, while opponents landed 30% of theirs. In his last fight, the 20 yr. old Jorge Silva landed 43% of his power shots. Brawler James Kirkland landed 40% of his power shots vs. Angulo.
Against a sharpshooter like Lara this trend line could be disastrous, especially since Angulo has been known to cut.
Prediction: This fight could unfold a number of ways, but given their histories the most likely scenario would be Lara out-boxing and out-foxing the aggressive Mexican en route to a decision victory.