Sammy Vasquez scored a fifth-round TKO over Jose Lopez at the California University of PA in California, Pennsylvania in the feature bout on PBC on Fox Sports 1. Vasquez has looked great since turning pro in in April of 2012, but his biggest win came in his previous outing against Wale Omotoso in June.
In that fight with Omotoso, Vasquez was forced to endure some intense moments against a difficult opponent complete with a bloodied face.
It was a step back for Vasquez, but he definitely deserved a fight against a perceived softer touch in Lopez, although he got a bit more than he bargained for. But what did we learn from the fight with Vasquez?
Lopez was busy in the early going. He was trying to make his presence known, but Vasquez was much more accurate and just looked the part compared to Lopez. Vasquez utilized his jab very well. He didn’t beat Lopez to death with the jab, but he made it an integral part of his performance and it tied in with his other offense. The southpaw Vasquez countered well, but he ended the round with some hard power shots to cap the three minutes.
It was obvious that Lopez found respect for Vasquez in the first round because he came out a bit hesitant. However, there were some very interesting exchanges throughout the fight and they started in round two as Vasquez landed a hard left uppercut, but he was caught with a left hand from Lopez just as was set to land another hard left hand of his own. It was clear that Vasquez got the most out of the exchange as Lopez wobbled back just a bit – he wasn’t hurt but the indication that he felt the punch was clear – but the fact that Vasquez was caught clean and first was the point I took.
Of course, you have to understand that Vasquez is being graded unfairly because he is the one in the fight that has the most to prove, and he is also the one in the fight that has been most impressive. There is more to expect from Vasquez, so there is more to be critical of when it comes to his performances.
Lopez was tough and he ate big shots while maintaining his own offense. Now, Vasquez might’ve felt Lopez’s power and realized he was not in danger, but there is reason to believe that the clearly superior fighter in Vasquez was suckered into Lopez’s fight, which isn’t a good thing to see from a fighter in such a deep division like welterweight.
In the proceeding rounds, Lopez managed to back Vasquez up against the ropes, land accurate power punches, and sucker Vasquez into dangerous exchanges. It needs to be said that Vasquez was never in serious trouble and handled Lopez’s attack well. And it goes without saying that Vasquez looked much better and accomplished much more in the fight, not just because of the win because there were high level things going on in the ring. It wasn’t just a win that stemmed from overwhelming power and skill. It was a methodical performance that stemmed from real brilliance.
It truly was a dominating performance capped off by a knockdown in the first few moments in the round. But before the final knockdown, which came moments after Lopez got up from the first, Lopez caught Vasquez square on the chin. Now, this is a fight and guys will get hit no matter how good they are.
My impressions of the fight were that Vasquez is talented, both from a physically athletic standpoint, and from that of a boxing specific skillset. However, the commentator asked Vasquez about the potential for a matchup with the best fighters at 147 lbs., specifically naming Keith Thurman.
Now, I’m sure that Vasquez is not thinking about getting those fights yet because guys like Thurman, Shawn Porter, and Amir Khan are hoping to secure bigger fights with opponents that have been there longer than Vasquez. But he did say that he is working towards landing those fights, mentioning the politics that go along with landing those names.
If Vasquez wants to be a real player at welterweight then he should not rush to fight these guys. He isn’t ready, but that isn’t the point. The fact is Vasquez might never be the best welterweight amongst the current class, but he has something going for him that none of those other top-rated welterweights have.
Vasquez has a Spanish surname and provides entertaining fights. He is best after establishing a working distance and maintaining control from the outside, but he is not afraid to fight inside and truly mix it up. He has a chin and he has the power to gain notoriety without a huge name on his resume. Vasquez should continue to work his way up the ladder, but in doing so he can create a following amongst boxing’s most coveted demographic: the Hispanic fans.
We learned that Vasquez is hittable, we learned that Vasquez is not afraid of mixing it up and we learned that he is quite possibly the most commercially exciting fighter in the division right now.
You can talk about the appreciation hardcore fans have for Errol Spence’s technical ability, but that is sometimes lost on the casual fan. You can talk about Thurman’s hard hitting nature, but I’ve seen him avoid the fight at times. For Vasquez, he has the technical ability, but the apparent flaws are only highlighted by his exciting nature.
I’m not saying he should avoid the best fighters, I’m only saying that he can build a reputation off of his name and his propensity to make exciting fights will create the kind of following that will have the big names chasing him one day.