Marco Antonio Rubio vs. Domenico Spada: Preview and Prediction

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2014

Marco Antonio Rubio vs. Domenico Spada: Preview and Prediction

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    This Saturday night in Chihuahua, Mexico, longtime middleweight contender Marco Antonio Rubio faces off with Italian journeyman Domenico Spada. The WBC is recognizing this as a fight for the "interim" 160-pound title, but how they arrived at that decision when Sergio Martinez is about to defend the belt against Miguel Cotto in June is a mystery to me. 

    Either way, this has the makings of an entertaining scrap. Rubio and Spada are both talented fighters with world-class experience. 

    They have both consistently failed to break through to the top level in the world, but the winner will be in good position to make another run. 

Tale of the Tape

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    Per Boxrec     Marco Antonio Rubio     Domenico Spada
    Record:     58-6-1, 50 KOs     38-4, 19 KOs
    Height:     5'10"     5'9"
    Reach:     70"     Unlisted
    Weight:     160 lbs     160 lbs
    Age:     33     33
    Stance:     Orthodox     Orthodox
    Hometown:     Torreon, Coahuila de Zaragoza     Rome, Italy
    Rounds:     307     240

    Both fighters are 33 and have been fighting professionally since the early part of this century. Spada has been a longtime fixture near the top of the European middleweight rankings, while Rubio is a product of the tough Mexican scene.

    Spada has decent power, but Rubio has the much better knockout percentage. He's also slightly longer and has the craft to maximize that advantage. 

Main Storylines

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    Marco Antonio Rubio has been a top-10 middleweight for several years. He's a tough, crafty veteran with very good punching power. 

    But he's never won a fight that could elevate him to the elite level. His signature win came in 2011 when he knocked out unbeaten David Lemieux on Friday Night Fights.

    His most recent high-profile fight was a 2012 unanimous-decision loss to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. He also lost to Kelly Pavlik by Round 9 TKO in 2009. 

    Domenico Spada has held some minor WBC belts and lost a couple of competitive decisions to former world champion Sebastian Zbik in 2009 and 2010. But since losing to Darren Barker by unanimous decision in 2011, the six opponents that Spada has beaten have had a combined record of 62-85-8, and only one of those fighters even had a winning record. 

    Don't ask me how that kind of run has led him to a shot at the WBC "interim" world title. But in boxing, it can't exactly be viewed as a surprise. 

Strengths

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    Graham Hughes

    Marco Antonio Rubio is a tough, well-conditioned fighter with very good punching power. He is durable and does a good job of picking off punches. 

    He has years of experience and many rounds at the world-class level. He shifts well from defensive to offensive movement. 

    Domenico Spada is a rugged, pressure fighter who uses a quick jab to move into range. He's a compact middleweight with good strength on the inside. 

    Like Rubio, Spada has big-fight experience and knows what is at stake in this showdown. 

Weaknesses

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Marco Antonio Rubio has a tendency to stand up straight and camp behind his guard when he's in trouble. He's good at picking off shots, but he also makes himself into a vulnerable, stationary target. It's impossible to cover up everywhere at once against a busy attack. 

    Domenico Spada comes forward with very little head movement. He leaves some dangerous holes in his guard.

    His right hand often returns low, leaving him vulnerable to a left hook over the top. He has also been vulnerable to uppercuts. 

Marco Antonio Rubio Will WIn If...

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    Marco Antonio Rubio needs to stay patient and keep Domenico Spada at the end of his punches in the early going while searching out the holes in the Italian's defense. Spada is going to come forward, so Rubio should move back behind his jab and lead hook. 

    He should look to counter with his left hook over the top of Spada's straight right. The right uppercut should be a good punch to throw off from the lead hook. 

    The biggest thing he needs to avoid is getting stuck behind his high guard and allowing Spada to seize the initiative and unload with a barrage. Rubio needs to use his defensive movement to lure his opponent forward into a counterattack trap. 

Domenico Spada Will Win If...

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    Domenico Spada needs to dictate the pace of this fight, applying steady pressure behind his jab as he cuts off the ring and moves into range. He needs to keep busy with the jab so he can freeze Rubio's hands up high in a guard position, thereby preventing the Mexican from getting off with his own offense.

    The Italian should also look to lower his level off from the jab and rough up Rubio to the body. When Spada drops his level and goes downstairs, he needs to look out for the uppercut. 

    He has to remain alert of Rubio's left hook. When he throws his right hand, he needs to return in good position. Rubio has legitimately dangerous power, and Spada has to avoid it. 

Prediction

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    David Richard

    This fight looks like it will be a bit of a shootout, and Marco Antonio Rubio has the bigger guns. So I think he'll beat Domenico Spada, stopping him in the later third of the fight. 

    Rubio isn't just the harder puncher. He's also the more skilled fighter and has fought better opponents, especially of late. This is a surprising opportunity for Spada, so I expect him to fight hard, looking to capitalize. 

    But it won't be enough against Rubio. The Mexican veteran will win this one by Round 9 TKO. 

    The win will make him the WBC "interim" champion and therefore the mandatory contender for the winner of Sergio Martinez vs. Miguel Cotto.

    But it's unlikely that Rubio will actually get a shot at either of those superstars. Still, it's the type of win that will help the longtime veteran maintain his stature in the division and possibly set him up for a bigger fight down the line.