By Jake Donovan
You have to give credit to Marco Antonio Rubio. With the guarantee of a homecoming showcase following his tough loss to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. earlier this year, Rubio could have fought any soft touch and have probably gotten away with it.
Instead, the 33-year old takes on his unbeaten prospect Jorge Cota in a crossroads bout in his Torreon (Mexico) hometown this Saturday evening.
The bout will mark his fourth undefeated opponent in the span of seven fights inside of less than 18 months. Until his loss to Chavez Jr. earlier this year, Rubio continued to win and mostly in violent fashion. A Feb. ’09 knockout loss to Kelly Pavlik was followed by 10 straight wins, with all but one ending inside the distance.
Along the way came a pair of fighters expected to derail Rubio’s comeback, including the last time he fought in his hometown. Wilson Santana strolled into their Jan. ’11 bout believing he would be using Rubio as a steppingstone, but quickly found out the hard way that it takes more than a glossy record to get past a cagey veteran.
David Lemieux was forced to learn that lesson on the spot as well, as he was drowned in deep waters by Rubio in front of an ESPN2-televised audience last April.
Rubio (53-6-1, 46KO) hoped for a trifecta in facing Chavez Jr. this past February, but came up short. Confident in his ability to still contribute to the sport after 12 years in the game, Rubio once again takes a risk in challenging an unbeaten foe 9 years his junior.
“I’m very focused on this fight,” Rubio insists. “Cota is very slick. He’s a good young fighter. I’ve fought lots of fight but am only 33 years old and have more to offer the sport.”
A capacity crowd is expected for Saturday’s fight in Rubio’s hometown, a far different setting than what was forced to contend with in several past fights. Having fought Pavlik and Lemieux in their respective hometowns and in front of a pro-Chavez Jr. crowd in San Antonio earlier this year, Rubio will enjoy a rare home court advantage this weekend.
“The Coliseo Centrenario holds 9,000 at capacity and it will be packed for what many believe is a pick-‘em fight,” believes Oswaldo Kuchle, who handles Rubio’s career. “Marco Antonio is facing a good young fighter who is unbeaten, hungry and very well-trained by the Montiel family. They believe Cota’s punching power is better than Rubio.”
The claim comes at a peculiar time, as Rubio’s loss to Chavez marked a rare occasion in which one of his fights went to the scorecards. More than 80% of Rubio’s 60 pro fights have ended inside the distance, having scored knockouts in nearly 90% of his 53 wins to date.
Going the distance in his last fight should not create the perception that Rubio’s punching power is for real. Chavez Jr. has never been down as a pro, a fitting homage to his Hall-of-Fame father who boasted one of the best chins in boxing history.
That said, Rubio and his handlers are confident that his fight-altering punching power will resurface soon enough. This weekend, they believe, will represent a true middleweight fight where Rubio will have every chance to shine.
“Rubio still has great power in the middleweight division,” believes Kuchle, but not before taking a swipe at his fighter’s most recent opponent. “I mean the real 160 lb. division, not the cruiserweight.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox