Miguel Vazquez vs Leonardo Zappavigna Preview

LAS VEGAS - MARCH 11: Lenny Zappavigna (L) squares off with Miguel Vazquez after the weigh in for the IBF Lightweight title at MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 11, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Lee Payton previews tonight's lightweight clash between Miguel Vazquez and Leonardo Zappavigna (prediction after the jump).

A look at what each fighter brings to the table...

Leonardo Zappavigna

Lenny Zappavigna always brings the fight right from the start. He's a thickly built, aggressive boxer who doesn't do reverse. In a shoving match, he'd be an overwhelming favorite against his long, thin opponent who looks at first glance to be outmatched physically.

To make that edge in pure strength mean something he'll have to work his way inside without giving up too much of himself on the hunt. Once he finds himself in range, the pony-tailed Aussie can let go with power combinations up and down.

If Zappavigna can work Vazquez into the ropes with consistency, he keeps his "0".

Miguel Vazquez

There is nothing pretty about the way Miguel Vazquez fights. Many people look at his body and get the sense that he is frail and vulnerable. They see his awkward delivery and the way he sometimes loses his feet and think that there is no way this guy should be a top lightweight contender. I finally got around to watching this young man and I must say I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. He fights like a veteran.

The first thing that struck me was the way he gives equal attention and respect to offense and defense. That's not the case with most youngsters and it could be an advantage against an opponent who just wants to hit someone. He doesn't mind shutting down the action for a few seconds by moving out of range, or diving all way in for protection. These are tactics that not excite every boxing fan out there, but it's smart fighting. The purist in me appreciates these little tricks.

The second thing that makes Vazquez a difficult fighter to deal with is his belief in his quick left jab. He tends to use that weapon a lot, which is the mark of a true boxer. With the extra inches he'll have in the ring, an active stick will prove to be quite handy, I think.

Despite the fact that he can sometimes be caught a little off balance, I think he does a relatively good job of controlling pace and distance with educated feet. The Mexican's defensive moves aren't going to make any highlight reels, but he does seem to have a natural ability to avoid the big shot.

Questions

Vazquez: What's his chin like? Can he handle himself inside if forced into the trenches?

Zappavigna: How steep a price will he have to pay to get close? How is he going to deal with the jab?

Prediction...

I think Vazquez will retain his title belt with a consistent left hand and superior defense. He looks like a well-balanced and seasoned fighter, so I will take him by wide unanimous decision.

Zappa comes off as a bit raw and predictable in his attack. I've seen some moments of concern on defense, as well. Specifically, he spends too much time on the line, with his head in the center, which leaves him especially vulnerable to a jab. In short, there's too much forward and back and not enough side to side movement for me to think he can get inside in every round.

The wide right hand and the soft double jab on the way in (that never touches anything) don't help his chances, either. I just don't think he's got enough layers to beat Vazquez, who will jab, feint, spoil and step around him all night long.

e-mail Lee Payton

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