While all eyes will be on hard-hitting Argentine Lucas Matthysse in the main event of tonight's Showtime Championship Boxing card from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, The Joint in Las Vegas, it will be the co-feature bout between Selcuk Aydin and Jesus Soto Karass that could produce the most fireworks. Their respective futures may be on the line, with the short-tempered Aydin having to do more than simply fight angry to prove that he is a viable contender in the welterweight division.
The Turkish-born Aydin (23-1, 17 KO's) suffered his first professional loss last July against Robert Guerrero who had been coming off a 15-month layoff and jumping up two weight classes from lightweight to welterweight. Aydin applied a sufficient amount of pressure and had more overall success on the inside with his short right hands and uppercuts, but his limited technique and poor work rate prevented him from earning the victory, losing a unanimous decision.
At the time he faced Guerrero for the interim welterweight strap, Aydin had been the WBC mandatory challenger to former champion Andre Berto since 2009 but was consistently passed over for opponents such as Carlos Quintana and Freddy Hernandez. It has been a source of great discontent for the 29-year old Aydin.
"Robert didn't beat me. The politics of boxing beat me. Three years before, I would have beaten Robert," said Aydin following the Guerrero fight through translator and promoter Ahmet Oner.
While his disappointment is understandable, Aydin did not take full advantage of his second U.S. appearance in what was the most important fight of his career. CompuBox figures reflect that he threw only 528 total punches against Guerrero and landed 189 (36%) compared to Guerrero's 254 of 972 (26%). As Guerrero was fading in the late rounds and languishing on the inside with depleted power, Aydin was unable to put together the series of shots that could have put him in position to get the stoppage.
Soto Karass (26-8-3, 17 KO's) enters this bout tonight having lost five of his last seven. While that fact may have many rushing to conclude he is nothing more than an opponent at this stage of his career, those losses include two hard fought clashes with Mike Jones, the first stoppage loss of his career at the hands of tough light middleweight Gabriel Rosado and an eighth round TKO by heavy-handed Marcos Maidana in a closely contested battle.
The gritty Mexican has been in his fair share of wars and could make this an uncomfortable, ugly fight, even for the pressure fighter Aydin who has yet to face this type of menacing and bruising warrior known for roughing it up however he can. Soto Karass walked through several of Maidana's power punches before finally getting caught and was quite active in that contest, landing 179 of his total 748 punches.
Aydin is now trained by Adam Booth, a British trainer known for training David Haye and George Groves. Maidana, who had just started working with new trainer Robert Garcia when he fought Soto Karass in September, displayed a much more versatile and mechanical style than what we had grown accustomed to seeing from the brawling Argentine, throwing a variety of combinations set up by a steady jab and an improved defense. Those additional skills helped to differentiate Maidana from Soto Karass before he blasted him with a five-punch combination that started all of the trouble.
We have yet to see this skill-set from Aydin. It is unclear just how much Booth's influence will have on successfully chopping away at the chip on his fighter's shoulder through impressive big fight victories and wider acknowledgement. If Booth is able to improve Aydin as a fighter, much like Garcia has done with Maidana, the chips may finally fall into place for the Turk.
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