5 keys for Richard Abril
Plotting a path to victory for Richard Abril against Brandon Rios
Saturday's Brandon Rios-Richard Abril bout has one always-attractive element at its very core: bad blood. The fighters had a brief, salty exchange (punctuated by a few shoves and slaps) during a Miami press conference to announce a fight originally scheduled to pit Rios (29-0-1, 22 KOs) against former featherweight champ Yuriorkis Gamboa. Abril (17-2-1, 8 KOs) used Gamboa's absence at the event to make a case for a fight against Rios by challenging him during their brief faceoff, and when Gamboa withdrew from the proposed match, the stage was set for Rios-Abril.
On Saturday at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, as part of an HBO PPV split-site doubleheader, Rios (who hails from Oxnard, Calif.) will attempt to regain the lightweight crown he lost on the scales last December when he couldn't make weight before his fight against John Murray. For his part, Cuba's Abril will seek to validate his interim title in the biggest fight of his career. The styles seem to mesh well; Rios is the active, in-fighting bulldog, and Abril is the wild swinger with a difficult two-fisted attack, which could throw off Rios' game and turn the fight into an interesting matchup.
With the stage set, here are five keys to victory for Abril:
Loop 'n' hook
|Abril's main weapon is his looping right hand, and his wide left hook usually follows -- both in effectiveness and power. Rios should prove vulnerable to both punches. Abril's right-hand volley will find little resistance from Rios' usually weak defense, and if Abril chooses to take the risk and finds the right distance with those punches, he should be able to make Rios pay for it.|
Get the address right
|Abril already has the telegram in his hand -- he just needs to make sure he finds a home for it. As powerful as Abril can be, his accuracy is a liability. He has been known to miss wildly with his easy-to-track right-hand swings. He needs to find the right spot to land his punches while keeping from lunging and exposing himself. To avoid a deadly counterattack from a constant-pressure fighter like Rios, Abril needs to be crisp and precise in his own offense.|
Stay at midrange
|Big issue here. The close range is Rios' territory, and the long range -- where Abril is less versatile (and he isn't all that versatile to begin with) -- will make Abril's misses and defensive flaws more glaring. There are perfect distances at which to beat Abril (Hank Lundy found it, and he won quite handily), but there is a perfect distance at which he works best. Finding it against Rios will be tough, but critical, if Abril wants this win.|
Say hello to Bob
|I usually assume everyone knows Mr. Bob N. Weave, but it seems that Abril has never made his acquaintance. The bob and weave is the most basic defensive move in boxing, and neglecting it against a close-range fighter such as Rios would prove costly for Abril, whose best response to a jab-straight right onslaught is to back up helplessly while stretching backward and leaving himself wide open. It may have worked for Muhammad Ali for the first 15 years of his career, but if Rios' long combinations find Abril, he will pay for not having learned how to duck and move properly.|
Six is the new three
|And by that number, we mean six connects -- not just six aimless volleys. Rios is a relentless fighter, one who comfortable throws dozens of punches a round, so matching his work rate will be tough. But Abril could start by throwing more than three punches at a time, and landing at least half of them wouldn't hurt, either. If he establishes a respectable punching rate to break Rios' rhythm a little bit, his chances of getting rounds scored in his favor will increase.|
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.
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