RUBIO fought well but showed marks of battle against Kassim Ouma. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
LEON, Mexico, Feb. 9
Graham's Odds: 
Zertuche -110; Rubio +100
Over 9.5 -120; under 9.5 +110

The weekend’s most action-packed fight could turn out to be the all-Mexico middleweight showdown between Jose Luis Zertuche and Marco Antonio Rubio on Saturday’s Top Rank PPV show.

These are two fighters who like to take the fight to the other man and throw hard punches. It could be one of those survival of the fittest fights.

Zertuche, 34, is fighting at home in Leon. This is his first bout since he was brutally knocked out by Kelly Pavlik in a war 13 months ago, a defeat that does not look too bad in light of Pavlik’s subsequent KO wins over Edison Miranda and Jermain Taylor.

Obvious questions come to mind about Zertuche. I understand that he has done well with business ventures in Leon. Does he still have the hunger for boxing? How much did the Pavlik knockout take out of him?

Rubio was a world-rated junior middleweight but he has lost his biggest fights.

Flattened by a huge left hook in just 33 seconds against Kofi Jantuah, Rubio came back to give Kassim Ouma a gruelling battle, knocking down the Ugandan in the first round only to be outworked in the remainder of the fight.

I thought that Rubio gave an excellent performance against Ouma, even though he lost.

In September, 2006, though, Rubio suffered a heavy defeat in the Ukraine when he was well beaten on points by Zaurbek Baysangurov, although he did drop his unbeaten opponent in the opening round.

Since then he has moved up to 160 pounds and has six wins in a row, five inside the distance.

It is in Rubio’s favour that he has been an active fighter, but Zertuche might have been rejuvenated by a long rest.

Both men can punch, with fan-friendly styles. Zertuche struggled a bit against Carlos Bojorquez before stopping the durable veteran in the eighth round but he battered former top amateur Jesus Gonzales in the eighth and had two tough, close fights with Fulgencio Zuniga, a draw and a split decision loss, although he knocked down the Colombian in each of those contests.

Of the two, I think that Zertuche is more durable than Rubio, and this could be important if this develops into a fight where big hits are being exchanged.

Rubio is the busier, more consistent type of fighter, whereas Zertuche tends to coast for a bit in between throwing his heavy hooks and right hands. I believe that either man can hurt the other. Either can win; anything could happen with these two dangerous but flawed fighters. Rubio could win on workrate if the fight goes the full 12 rounds. If either man wins on points, it will probably be Rubio, but in an inside-schedule ending I would lean towards Zertuche, who I think has the more reliable chin and seems to be the bigger one-punch hitter.

The sportsbook odds that I have seen make Rubio the favourite, but I give Zertuche the slight edge.

On the assumption that Zertuche is serious about his return to boxing, I think he will be able to outlast Rubio and win in the late rounds of what looks sure to be a rousing fight.

RESULT: Zertuche looks "shot"; Rubio easily controls the fight and knocks him out in seven rounds.

Last Updated: 
February 7, 2008 - 3:54am