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Boxing News, February 16, 2007

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Rocky Chews Up Game Lucero
Class Tex-Mex Gets Back in Groove



Featherweight Rocky Juarez had a stay busy fight on Telefutura against Emmanuel Lucero at the Desert Diamond Casino in Tucson, Arizona, while his manager Shelly Finkel plots bigger moves for the rest of the year. The former WBC Interim titlist ended the show via TKO at 1:05 of the 5th round.

2006 ended on a whimper for Rocky. Marco Antonio Barrera stunk it out in their rematch, earning a UD 12 for what had been anticipated as a potential a Fight of the Year candidate.  And the year before, Juarez’s handlers mistakenly underestimated Humberto Soto, who boxed his ears off and received a UD 12.

Lucero, once managed by Johnny Bos and advertised as “The Bronx Butcher,” is no more than just another piece of meat these days. In 2003 and 2004 he suffered terrible third-round knockouts to Manny Pacquiao and Ponce De Leon, respectively. He has been essentially inactive since the last KO.

Still, Lucero is fiery slugger and he fought Juarez as if it was more than just a paycheck.  The 2000 Silver medalist from Houston, Texas, was not just a different caliber of fighter, however, but a bad style for Lucero. Lucero holds his hands low and swings wild, undisciplined punches. But he lacks the speed and reflexes to get away with this gambling style is nothing if not disciplined; his are always high and tight, his elbows tucked, and his punches are short, straight, and to the point.

In the first, Juarez softened up the opponent with left hooks to the body and head. Lucero has a bad habit of bending at the waist and offering the back of his head as a target. A short, downward right towards the end of the round caught Lucero in that dangerous spot, and put him down. It came so fast that only the slow motion replay revealed where the contact was made—not that the ref shouldn’t have ruled it a knockdown, which he did.

With a few seconds remaining in the round, Lucero fought back ferociously. He came out the same way in the second, but Juarez’s trademark left hook caught him unawares and put him down once more.

Lucero was game for the rest of the second and third, but his legs were wobbled from more vintage left hooks and consistent bodywork. As a puncher, Juarez reminds me of Miguel Cotto. You can’t stand in front of these men and trade. Lucero didn’t get the memo.

And yet the opponent took the fourth, according to my scorecard. It was an uneventful round where they both grinded away in the trenches. With renewed confidence, Lucero attacked in the fifth. He drove Juarez backwards and, while he didn’t land anything clean, he had that proverbial puncher’s chance against a fighter that wasn’t supposed to have a reverse gear.

But, spent from his effort, Lucero took a breather. That’s when Rocky caught him in the back of the head with the same shot he connected with in the first. Once again, I can’t fault him for throwing the shot or landed it. Maybe the ref is to blame for not warning Lucero what is and isn’t an acceptable defensive posture?  This downward right didn’t put him down but wobbled him. The short hook that followed was the finisher.

Lucero beat the count but was unable to defend himself against Juarez’s textbook final assault. Patient and calm, Rocky worked the body and the head with sharp, chopping shots, barely missing anything. The ref jumped in at the right time.

With his win, Juarez moves to 26-3 (19). Lucero falls to 23-4-1 (14).

Undefeated welterweight Gabriel Martinez continued his winning ways, earning a UD 8 over journeyman Roberto Valenzuela. Winning by scores of 78-74 and 79-73 twice, Martinez goes to 13-0 (7) while Valenzuela falls to 17-30-2 (16).





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