Photos by Sumio Yamada
KASSIM OUMA vs MARCO ANTONIO RUBIO
The chief undercard fight on the Oscar De La Hoya-Ricardo Mayorga show is an intriguing one, with Ugandan Kassim Ouma taking on Mexicos hard punching Marco Antonio Rubio in 12-round WBC 154-pound elimination match.
Both boxers are with Golden Boy Promotions but the Cinco de Mayo crowd will be roaring encouragement for Rubio.
The fight marks the return to a Las Vegas big-fight setting for the 25-year-old Rubio, who was nailed by a big left hook from Ghanas Kofi Jantuah in a shocking first-round loss on the De La Hoya-Bernard Hopkins show in September 2004. It was all over in 33 seconds Rubio did not have a chance to get into the fight.
Since then Rubio (32-2-1, 29 KOs) has won seven in a row, six by KO, and he is ready to try again at the higher level.
One thing in Rubios favour is that in Ouma he is not meeting a noted puncher, although the Ugandan has seemed to be getting more power into his punches lately, with two impressive stoppage wins under the direction of his new trainer Ronnie Shields in Houston, TX.
Shields said over the phone from Houston that he expects Rubio to be tough early but he believes Oumas busy-punching, relentless style will take over as the bout progresses.
Its going to be a fast-paced fight," Shields said. The most important thing is that Kassim has to get close to him and hit him. Once Kassim starts running his combinations on him I dont think the guy will be able to keep up."
Rubio can be dangerous, though: he is a good puncher with either hand, downstairs and up. The fact that Ouma soundly outpointed Jantuah while the Ghanaian knocked out Rubio quickly has no bearing on this fight. Ouma can hurt people but he has never been one of those thudding-type punchers and he will not be delivering a one-hit KO. Rubio can afford to take some chances early in this fight as he tries to land his powerful punches, and if he can hit Ouma cleanly he can put him in trouble, as did the Russian Roman Karmazin when he floored and almost stopped Ouma in that dreadful night for the Ugandan last July.
I do believe that Ouma was not at his best that night, though, and the move from Florida and its distractions to Ronnie Shieldss gym in Houston was a good one for the fighter, as we saw in his last two performances, especially the eight-round breaking-down job on Argentinas sturdy Francisco Mora.
Rubios punching power gives him a chance: Ouma was down twice against Karmazin while back in 1999 he was stopped in the first round by a journeyman opponent.
When Ouma is fully focused and alert, however, he is not so easy to catch with flush shots. He moves his head, slips punches, and once he gets into his rhythm he tends to throw so many punches that his opponents are taken out of their stride and start to fall apart mentally and physically.
I think that the early rounds will be dangerous for Ouma and it would not shock me to see him on the floor, but I do believe that he is a higher-calibre fighter than Rubio, quicker and more versatile, and his southpaw stance and greater experience Rubio has had more fights but Ouma has fought the tougher opposition are also likely to be key factors.
I can see Ouma becoming dominant by the middle rounds, making Rubio miss and gradually wearing him down to win either by a wide points margin or a late stoppage.