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Rubio and Ornelas Set to Rumble For Middleweight Title Shot
By Derek Bonnett: The world readily accepts Kelly Pavlik in the lead role of the film that is the middleweight division.
By Michael Norby: It took Sam Soliman a couple of rounds to figure out Enrique Ornelas, but when he finally did he displayed all of the unorthodox attributes that makes him one of the toughest men to fight against in boxing. In what was an entertaining middleweight fight, Soliman (33-8 13KO) took over from round three onward enroute to a, tighter than it appeared, decision victory.

Rubio and Ornelas Set to Rumble For Middleweight Title Shot

By Derek Bonnett: The world readily accepts Kelly Pavlik in the lead role of the film that is the middleweight division. However, Arthur Abraham of Armenia has done more than enough to convince some that he is worthy enough to push Pavlik out of the spotlight from his own position of best supporting actor. With Jermain Taylor off to venture new roles at super middleweight and Winky Wright mostly forgotten in a self-imposed exile, the remaining major characters of the 160 lb. class have yet to be cast.

For this reason, the October 18th bout between streaking Mexican middleweights Enrique Ornelas, 28-4 (18), and Marco Antonio Rubio, 42-4-1 (37), at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City holds great significance to the future of the division. The winner of this WBC title eliminator is promised his shot at the crown as the mandatory challenger. This dark horse candidate for fight of the year will be televised by HBO PPV as a part of the undercard for Pavlik-Hopkins.

While neither man has looked unbeatable throughout his respective career, both have been involved in the type of aggressive slugfests that promise fireworks of an even greater magnitude once they step into the ring together in New Jersey. Ornelas-Bronco McKart II and Rubio-Jose Luis Zertuche have been two of the most overlooked slugfests of the last 12 months and it’s comforting to see two top contenders willing enough to put their position on the line for pride and country instead of just sitting on a title shot.

“At this point in Marco’s career, [he has to] fight the top ranked fighters and win for the world title opportunities,” said Rubio’s manager Julio Gudino. “His rise to middleweight has given him the confidence in his abilities and has stopped the weight struggle. We took Ornelas because it was approved as an eliminator. This will hopefully not allow Pavlik to back down from a fight if he comes back to the middleweight division. If he doesn’t, we are positioned for the vacant title opportunity.”

The situation is surely win-win for the victor and, in the sport of boxing, a fighter cannot turn down that kind of an opportunity when it comes along. Alliteration aside, the term “Mexican middleweight” is catchy because this is not a division that historically has been replete with contenders south of the border. Even more noteworthy, according to my estimation, a Mexican fighter has never been crowned middleweight world champion. Should the victor make good on his challenge of Pavlik or receive the vacant title, it would be a great benchmark for Mexican fans.

Although Rubio and Ornelas, both 28 years old, are not familiar with one another personally according to Gudino, they must be very aware of the other’s power. The obvious outcome of this fight is knockout and probably sooner rather than later given their styles.

“KNOCKOUT there will be!” Gudino responded jubilantly. “Marco goes into every fight anticipating a war. That’s his style: GOOD OR BAD! This fight is no different. He is training in the mountains near Mexico City to build his stamina. Ornelas is a good fighter and he can take a punch, but Marco is at another level in his career with his experience and his mental confidence. The fight will either end very early or it will go to the later rounds, but rest assured Marco will come out victorious and with another KO on his record.”

Prior to signing to fight Ornelas, Rubio had already been mentioned as a possible opponent for Pavlik. However, Pavlik ended up using sacrificial lamb Gary Lockett instead. Rubio has also seen a proposed title eliminator with David Lopez fall through as well this year. Since early 2008, a piece of the middleweight pie has been on Rubio’s mind. Perhaps the timing of this eliminator bout has been the best now that Rubio has had a chance to really test the waters of the division since 2006 and grow comfortable.

With Pavlik on the horizon and Ornelas right in front of him, Marco Antonio Rubio has not selected an easy road to the title. Like the Greek hero Theseus, he has chosen the difficult path to glory and now more than any other time in his career does he seem poised to set himself among the top fighters of his division.

October 13, 2008

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