Cayo Proves Don'ts Sometimes Do's

boxingBy Paul Strauss, photo by Ron Scarfone - Keep your hands up. Stay on the outside against the shorter-armed fighter. Keep moving and outbox him. All good advice and often said in ring corners by boxing sages. This advice is like playing the percentages in baseball........i.e. take all the way on 3-0 count, replace the starter when he reaches a certain number of pitches, and replace him in the last inning with your saver if you've got a lead.

Friday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL we saw an up and coming star Victor Manuel Cayo go against the percentages when he was showcased in his bout with former champion Julio "The Kidd" Diaz.

The twenty year old (not a kid anymore) Diaz, who is a veteran with 42 fights behind him, came into the bout confident his 62 percent knockout power against tough opposition would be the story against the flashy Cayo. Sooner or later he felt he would get the kid to trade with him, and that would be that.. After all, Diaz probably thought, "Cayo is just a kid. He's had half the bouts I've had, and against nobody fighters. Plus, he's tall and slender and my body shots will quickly slow him down, so I can then start landing my power shots."

Fans too were suspicious of Cayo's credentials. After all, most of his fights took place in the Dominican Republic. He had only once previously fought in the USA, and once in Canada. The question everyone was asking, "Does this 24 year old kid really have the goods?

Well, Hollywood (FL) was a good place for these questions to be answered in entertaining fashion. Cayo proved to be skilled enough that he could turn some of those "Don'ts" into "Do's".

First, he didn't wait on Diaz and attempt to start slow and figure out Diaz. He didnít wait and hope to tire out the veteran. No, he came out fast and furious. In the very first round, he threw volumes of beautiful combinations, not just light "feeling out" type jabs. He was throwing the hard, snappy stuff right off the bat. Diaz, of course, was no pushover, and remained poised while attempting to time the youngster's onslaught with his own counters.

Early on Cayo taunted Diaz with hands down, and with quick in and out movement. His unusual style made it difficult for Diaz to gauge distance and angles of punches. Cayo would throw "shovel jabs" and uppercuts, which on the surface would seem to place him in danger. However, Diaz seemed hesitant and unable to "let his hands go". Even when Cayo would slide inside, Diaz seemed complacent and would hold on instead of ripping shots to the body. But, it wasnít anything Diaz was doing or not doing, it was what Cayo was doing that was making the difference. In fact, Cayo went against conventional wisdom and eagerly engaged Diaz on the inside, risking retaliatory body shots, only to outpunch the shorter armed infighter.

Cayo's confidence was genuine and not the too often blustery wind youthful prospects some times exhibit. Cayo knew what he was doing and the extent of his capabilities. All though he has a long way to go in establishing himself the league with a hall of fame fighter like Joe Calzaghe, and a current great champ like Sergio Martinez, he does borrow from their styles and techniques, and if last night is any evidence, successfully so.

It's somewhat humorous to listen to contemporary trainers tell their charges that carrying their hands low, especially their left, is old school, and that they must concentrate on keeping their hands up, etc. Too often fighters are taught to be predictable and limited in what they attempt to do. Perfecting such a style often does carry fighters a long way up the road to success, but it's also true that predictability can be limiting. Hopkins vs. Pavlik comes to mind. Kelly is obviously a great fighter, but when up against a wily veteran, his polished but predictable skills became a liability.

Everyone remembers when Joe Calzaghe would drop his hands and taunt opponents, and then pummel them with numerous shots for which they seemed defenseless. He would even stick his unguarded face in between their gloves, challenging someone like the great Roy Jones to do something about it.

Sergio Martinez, who everyone knows beat Kermit Cintron, has a somewhat similar style. He too is a southpaw, and often times drops his gloves to his side, only to momentarily lull his opponent into the false impression he's out of range, and then rat-a-tat-tat, they are peppered with numerous shots.

Certainly Cayo has work ahead of him, and odds are he will never reach the heights of someone like Calzaghe or even Martinez for that matter, but it's a good bet he will continue to impress. He has the size, speed, balance, style, and the great vision and reflexes needed to do so. Keep an eye out for his next bout, and be sure to mark it down on your calendar. You will not be disappointed. Last nights judges thought so, because they scored the fight 97-93, 96-94, and
98-92. All three saw it as one-sided for Cayo. Not bad against someone of Julio Diazí caliber.

Article posted on 01.08.2009

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