Former title challenger Marco Antonio Rubio awaits his next crack at the middleweight crown after scoring a fifth round knockout of Mohammed Akrong in a stay busy fight Saturday evening at Centro de Convenciones in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
The bout, which aired live on Televisa and also on wbcboxing.tv, was a war from the opening bell, though largely dominated by Rubio, who continues to enjoy a career resurgence. One of the nicest guys in the business, Rubio ditched his good guy demeanor and let the bombs fly on a brave but ultimately battered the Ghana-based Akrong, fighting outside of Africa for the first time in his career.
A non-stop third round became a contender for Round of the Year, with both fighter trading power punches for all three minutes, with nary a clinch or breather between the two. As was the case throughout the fight, Rubio got the better of the exchanges. While Akrong made his presence felt, his face paid the heavy price as he was bloodied and bruised by rounds end.
Rubio continued to build on his lead, dominating the fourth round and closing the show strong in a brutal fifth round. Akrong ate an alarming number of punches before being deposited into a corner for the bout’s lone knockdown. The referee observed the blood on Akrong’s face as well as a massive knot under his left eye, and wisely stopped his mandatory count at five to wave off the bout.
The win is Rubio’s ninth in a row – all but one by knockout – as he improves to 52-5-1 (45KO). Akrong heads back to Ghana with his second loss in five fights as he falls to 13-4 (10KO).
Rubio made his way back into the mandatory position for a crack at the middleweight title with a shocking 7th round knockout of previously unbeaten and heavily (over)hyped prospect David Lemieux. The fight was a designed as a showcase for Lemieux, headlining an ESPN2 Friday Night Fights telecast live from his native Canada.
The script called for Lemieux to win and look spectacular doing so, but Rubio had other ideas. A competitive fight quickly developed into a modern day tale of the tortoise versus the hare, with Rubio riding out the early storm to take over in the middle rounds, dropping Lemieux and landing enough in an ensuing volley to strike fear in the Canadian’s corner to force the stoppage.
With the win came a mandatory title shot against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, who picked up the vacant title two months later with a decision win over Sebastian Zbik. Given Chavez Jr’s current schedule, it’s clear that Rubio will not receive his title shot any time soon and will most likely have to go to court in order to enforce it.
In the meantime, his handlers continue to keep him active. Saturday’s win was his fourth fight of 2011, including his third ring appearance in the past five months. Included among the streak are wins over Jose Luis Zertuche and Rigoberto Alvarez.
Rubio’s current win streak dates back to 2009, with his last loss having come at the hands of Kelly Pavlik in his failed middleweight title bid more than two years ago. He also suffered a first round knockout loss to Kofi Jantuah in his lone other title shot, nearly seven years ago.
It’s clear that the 31-year old has turned a corner in his career, looking like a different fighter especially in his past nine fights. He has scored five straight knockouts, including all four wins in 2011.
All that’s left is for the humble Mexican to receive his rightful title opportunity, whenever that day may come.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]