Photos by Sumio Yamada
JUAN LAZCANO vs MANUEL GARNICA
Juan Lazcano, the always crowd-pleasing Hispanic Causing Panicâ€?, returns to the ring on Saturdays Mexican Prideâ€? PPV show in his El Paso hometown to meet Manuel Garnica, the shifty Guadalajara boxer who caused a big surprise in August when he outscored former champion Carlos Maussa.
The junior welterweight 10-rounder is Lazcanos first bout since February, when he looked strong and sharp in pounding out a unanimous 10-round decision over the durable Ben Tackie.
The veteran from Ghana was right in front of him. Lazcano meets a different type of opponent in Garnica, a boxer and mover who gave the performance of his life against Maussa in only his second comeback fight after being inactive for nearly six years.
I was completely wrong in my preview of that fight, when I suggested it wouldnt be competitive.
Maussa seemed to make the mistake that so many heavy hitters make when matched with an opponent they think is a bit beneath them: he thought he could just go in and knock out the other man whenever he felt like it.
The Colombian was casual and complacent in the early rounds, and Garnica piled up points, hitting and moving, outboxing and outworking the stronger Maussa.
By the time that Maussa realised he was in a real fight, it was too late. Garnica had got a grip on the contest. Garnica might have gone into the bout just to box well, put up a good showing and basically see how well he could do, but by the fourth or fifth round you could the Mexican boxers confidence level rising when it became apparent to him that this was a fight he could win. And win it he did, which was somewhat astonishing considering not just his prolonged spell of inactivity (I understand he had a well-paid job and just drifted out of boxing) but the fact that he had been stopped in his last fight, although I believe it was due to getting cut.
Garnica made a mockery of the odds when he beat Maussa, but he faces a much tougher fight with Lazcano.
Whereas Maussa throws wide, often clumsy punches the sort of blows a clever boxer can dodge Lazcano puts on the pressure in a much more controlled, educated way.
Lazcano, 31, has lost only once in the past eight years, when he challenged Jose Luis Castillo for the lightweight title; Castillo was just too tough and too crafty for him in a bruising 12-rounder. Lazcano was out of the ring for 14 months but he has won three bouts in a row as a 140-pounder. I thought he looked very good when he overpowered Courtney Burton in the ninth round last November, and he was so dominant against Tackie that at one point it briefly he looked as if he might become the first to stop the iron-chinned Ghanaian.
I would think that Lazcano can be a world champion all he needs is to get the opportunity. Meanwhile it will help his cause if he can give an impressive performance against Garnica. That might not be too easy to do against a boxer who could frustrate him with his movement. I do think, though, that Lazcano will gradually close the distance, get Garnica on the ropes and go to work with body punches and combinations.
It might take a while to break Garnica down, but I think there is a good chance that Lazcano will be able to overwhelm his opponent towards the end of the fight. Despite Garnicas surprising showing against Maussa I am not sure that he will be able to keep Lazcano off him as the fight enters the closing stretch.