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Three Punch Combo: The Other Inoue, the Saunders-Coceres Mismatch and More

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  • Three Punch Combo: The Other Inoue, the Saunders-Coceres Mismatch and More

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    By Matt Andrzejewski

    THREE PUNCH COMBO -- The much-anticipated final of the WBSS bantamweight tournament will take place this week in Japan between IBF champion Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16 KO’s) and WBA champion Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26 KO’s). But Naoya is not the only Inoue in action on this card. On the undercard, his younger brother Takuma (13-0, 3 KO’s) will challenge for his first world title when he faces WBC bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali (16-0, 12 KO’s).

    Takuma (pictured) is clearly a different fighter than his more popular brother. Notably there is a vast difference in punching power. Many consider Naoya to be pound for pound the hardest puncher in the sport. Takuma, on the other hand, does not possess thunderous power or, for that matter, heavy hands. But like his brother, he is a sharp accurate puncher.

    Since Takuma is not the puncher his brother is, his overall game is much different inside the ring. Whereas Naoya is a seek and destroy offensive minded fighter, Takuma relies on a more technical approach.

    I don’t usually draw comparisons but when I first saw Takuma in action, I thought I was watching a mini version of Mikey Garcia minus the power. Fighting from the orthodox stance, Takuma likes to constantly be within range of his opponents and creates angles using subtle footwork to land pinpoint combinations. And he likes to further keep his opponents off balance by using well timed feints.

    Defensively, Takuma has some things in common with his older brother. Most noticeable to me is that neither brother has any type of head movement. And like his brother, Takuma will hold his hands low in spots making him an inviting target.

    These defensive flaws will almost certainly be put to the test by Oubaali, a strong bantamweight who will take the fight to Takuma. Oubaali is a heavy-handed volume puncher who is not afraid to eat some leather to land his own combinations.

    The key question is whether Takuma has enough behind his shots to get Oubaali’s respect? If Takuma can’t get Oubaali’s respect, then we will probably see something similar to Oubaali’s title winning performance against Rau’shee Warren earlier this year. But if Takuma has enough behind his punches to make Oubaali think twice about unleashing his own leather, we will probably see a pair of brothers ruling the bantamweight division by evening’s end.

    Who Is Marcelo Esteban Coceres?

    There will be a lot of eyeballs on this Saturday’s DAZN card at the Staples Center in Los Angeles that will be headlined by YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI (Olajide Olatunji) who will do battle in a scheduled six round cruiserweight contest. With all the attention this event is garnering, promoter Eddie Hearn is using the opportunity to showcase other fighters to a worldwide audience.

    One such fighter is undefeated 168-pound champion Billy Joe Saunders (28-0, 13 KO’s) who will be defending his title against the unheralded Marcelo Esteban Coceres (28-0-1, 15 KO’s) of Argentina. While boxing fans are very familiar with Saunders, the same cannot be said of Coceres. So just who is this unbeaten Argentine and does he pose a threat to Saunders?

    Coceres, 28, turned pro as a middleweight in February of 2012. After a successful debut, Coceres suffered the only blemish on his resume in his second pro fight when he fought to a four round split draw against Cesar Hernan Reynoso. Coceres’ last fight came in September when he won a ten round unanimous decision over countryman German Ignacio Peralta who entered the ring with an uninspiring record of 7-5-5.

    It should be noted that all 29 of Coceres’ pro fights have taken place in his native Argentina. And his resume is loaded with names that even the most die-hard of boxing fans wouldn’t recognize. To say he has built his record with subpar opposition would be quite an understatement.

    Here are some observations about Coceras drawn from the video available online. He fights from the orthodox stance and prefers to counter, though in spots he will try to initiate attacks from behind the left jab. That jab is not very strong or sharp and used primarily as a range finder.

    When Coceres does throw in combination, the punches tend to be very wide and do not seem to have much behind them. As far as hand speed and overall athleticism, I would rate Coceres as below average for the 168-pound division.

    Defensively, Coceres does exhibit some good head movement. But he can get very lazy when bringing the left jab back and easily countered when doing so. Additionally, Coceres has a bad habit of pulling straight back with his hands down.

    From the video I have seen, there is nothing that indicates he will be any type of threat to Saunders. Coceres just does not have the power or speed to get Saunders’ respect. Plus, when Coceres does open up with those wide swinging punches, Saunders will be able to land clean counter shots in return. It should be an easy night’s work for Saunders who should be able to dispose of Coceres whenever he sees fit.

    What’s Next For Ryan Garcia?

    In what was supposed to be his toughest fight to date, 21-year-old lightweight contender Ryan Garcia (19-0, 16 KO’s) made quite a statement on Saturday, dispatching Romero Duno (21-2, 16 KO’s) in the first round of their scheduled 12-round fight. As the buzz around Garcia continues to build, the natural question becomes what will be next for the young phenom?

    Despite the sensational performance, Garcia is still relatively green and can use some more development. Boxing politics aside, this is my way of saying that while it will be fun to talk about him facing someone like Vasiliy Lomachenko or the winner of Teofimo Lopez-Richard Commey, those fights are just not realistic at this time. Nor is it realistic to see Garcia fighting in the immediate future for one of the many title belts available in the division (though that may not be far away).

    I suspect Garcia’s promoter, Golden Boy, will put him in next with seasoned veteran with a name. And the name that just jumps off the page to me is another fighter with ties to Golden Boy in former three division champion Jorge Linares.

    Linares suffered a bad loss in January when he was stopped in the first round by Pablo Cesar Cano. But that fight took place at 140 and Linares returned to lightweight in September to win a ten round unanimous decision win over journeyman Al Toyogon. The bounce-back win at his more natural weight can be used by Golden Boy as a selling point to legitimize a fight with Garcia.

    Garcia has been craving the opportunity to headline a big event and a fight against Linares would certainly appease Garcia in that respect as well.

    If a fight with Linares cannot be put together, another option may be Masayoshi Nakatani who recently gave Teofimo Lopez a tough test while dropping a 12-round unanimous decision. It would be a good measuring stick kind of fight for Garcia and give him an opportunity to make another big statement, especially if he can perform better than Teofimo did against a common opponent.

    The future certainly appears to be bright for Garcia. I suspect we see him in another step-up fight the next time out with Linares and Nakatani being the two preferred options.

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel
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