Matching an unbeaten prospect against an unknown South American is often a risky move. Doing so has proven a path of broken dreams for promoters all over the world.
In 2008 for example, Frank Warren brought in Colombian, Breidis Prescott, as an opponent for his shining light, Amir Khan. Prescott had only fought outside his native Colombia on two occasions, and his level of opposition had been mostly abysmal. His rather intimidating knockout percentage was under these circumstances less of a worry.
Alas, poor team Khan got the shock of their lives when Prescott brutally bombed the budding star into oblivion, before even a minute had ticked off the clock.
It is a familiar tale.
Yesterday, in Macau, undefeated Chinese prospect Ik Yang suffered his first loss at the hands of unheralded Argentine, Cesar Rene Cuenca. On this occasion, however, the story had a little twist. Rather than being a ferocious power puncher, with merciless finishing abilities, this South American was a fighter with a knockout rate of below 5%.
Cuenca, who had never fought outside his native land, was an impressive 47-0, but with a meager 2 wins coming by way of stoppage. It was hardly the sort of record that would cause the wildman, Yang, to lose sleep. With the added incentive of a vacant IBF super-lightweight trinket being on the line, this seemed like a good fight for the Chinese banger.
Any lingering doubts the team would have had, about taking a match-up with such an unknown commodity, were laid to rest when they discovered this video of Cuenca working the pads on youtube.
A fighter managing to compile a win streak of such length without the aid of even egg cracking power is highly unusual. Perhaps, this should have indicated to Yang’s people that they were dealing with a tricky customer. While Yang is the sort of aggressive competitor that would be hard to keep at bay without a significant dig, he is also a fairly basic pressure fighter who can run out of ideas. If Cuenca turned out to be the slippery operator that his record suggested, Yang might struggle.
And so it proved.
Cuenca put on a masterful display of the noble art. He utilized educated movement, of both his feet and upper body, as well as a frequent, irritating jab to offset the aggression of the raw Yang. Though he was hurt, and dropped in the fifth, the Argentine dominated most of the rest of the fight to run out a comfortable points winner on all three judge’s scorecards.
It is a truly extraordinary turn of events.
Cuenca has been a professional for over thirteen years, and his record now stands at 48-0, the same numbers that pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather has logged. Yet, he has toiled to achieve this streak in complete anonymity. This is obviously due to the fact that he hasn’t often ventured outside Argentina, but being a tricky southpaw who can make people look bad does not lend itself to securing notable fights stateside. Likewise, combined with his being a human power vacuum, it does not lend itself to garnering attention or drawing money.
Forging a career as a professional boxer when your punches lack any pop is a tough road to travel. Very few fighters have ever managed to achieve success with a knockout percentage on the same level as Cuenca.
Tommy Loughran was one of the greatest light-heavyweights of all time, and even held victories over top heavyweights, like future champion Max Baer. Loughran, however, only scored 14 K.O wins in 169 fights.
Harry Greb is widely considered one of the top ten pound for pound fighters of all time. The former middleweight champion, who also held a win over a future heavyweight champ in Gene Tunney, won 261 fights in his storied career but only 48 of those were stoppages.
Both Loughran and Greb’s percentage’s give a somewhat skewed perspective of their power though, as they frequently fought bigger men.
Cuenca’s countryman, Nicolino Locche, had a story similar to his own. He fought exclusively in Argentina for a decade before travelling to Japan to beat Takeshi Fuji for the WBA belt at super-lightweight. Locche only stopped 14 fighters during his 135 fight career.
More recently, classy Puerto Rican, Ivan Calderon, had great success in the lightest weight classes, scooping titles in two divisions and winning 35 times, with only 6 K.O victories. However, Calderon’s two knockout defeats to limited but strong, tough and powerful Mexican, Giovanni Segura, perfectly illustrate just how difficult it is to campaign in boxing without decent power. Even with the wonderful talent Calderon possessed he could not help but be overcome by the physical gifts of his opponent.
Cuenca may not have achieved the same level of success as any of these great fighters from the past, but his record suggests that he is even more limited in terms of power than any of the aforementioned. In fact, I could not think of one successful fighter who’s stats were such a damning indictment of his ability to hurt opponents.
There has been a lot of talk recently about whether Floyd Mayweather will try to beat Rocky Marciano’s record of 49-0. Mayweather claims he is going to retire after his next fight, meaning he will only tie “The Rock” in that regard. Many observers still believe that Mayweather will have a change of heart and attempt to best the great heavyweight champ.
Either way, amidst all that fuss, a new and unlikely contender to the record has emerged from nowhere.
Read More About: amir khan, boxing, boxing news, breidis prescott, cesar rene cuenca, floyd mayweather, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Frank Warren, freddie roach, gene tunney, harry greb, ik yang, ivan calderon, max baer, nicolino locche, rocky marciano, tommy loughran, Top Story