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Friday, November 8, 2013

Salita-Bracero Preview

Welterweight Dmitriy Salita faces Gabriel "Tito" Bracero at the Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn, New York tomorrow. Both men are fighting int heir home borough and are stepping up the quality of competition relative to recent fights.

Salita (35-1-1, 18 KOs) has won five fights against journeymen since his 2009 defeat to Amir Khan. Bracero (22-1, 4 KOs) has won four fights since his 2012 loss at the hands of DeMarcus Corley. Save Khan, Bracero is Salita's toughest opponent; a case can be made that Salita is a tougher challenge for Bracero than was Corley, a former champion who was 37 years old and had lost six straight heading into the match with Tito.

Salita comes into the fight with a number of advantages. He's the bigger man, weighing in at over 147 pounds in each of his last five bouts. Bracero has never weighed as much as the welterweight limit in any pro fight. Salita is a couple of inches taller, a year younger, and has more experience in the ring.

Dmitriy's best punch is his jab. He's also a devastating body puncher, having knocked down James Wayka several times with body shots in 2010 and sapping Roberto Valenzuela's will to fight the following year. As the taller man, Salita will want to jab early and often against Bracero, who has been known to vary his attack between coming forward and boxing from the outside. Salita will only want to tag Tito's body when the two are on the inside since he'll otherwise have to reach for the shorter man's midsection from distance, exposing his chin to a counter.

Salita possesses good hand speed and decent power. Against Wayka, Salita landed a number of overhand rights that opened up Wayka's body for punishment. Against Brandon Hoskins last October, Salita saw an opportunity for his left hook to land. It will be important for Salita to initiate the action with his jab and punctuate it with head shots early to open up the body. Salita's KO power is to the body.

Salita's main problem is that he's a slow starter. He was knocked down once in the first round against Robert Frankel in 2005, twice in the first against Ramon Montano in his next fight, and three times in the first against Khan. When facing fighters not on his level such as Hoskins, Valenzuela, and Wayka, it still took a little time for Salita to find his grove.

It would thus behoove Bracero, who spent six years in prison, to come forward and attack early. His best punch is the right which he throws off the jab. Bracero however sometimes becomes too square after throwing his right and it can be countered. His defense will need to improve against Salita because he's been cut early in each of his last two fights against men who were not throwing many punches.

Tito has shown fortitude throughout his career. Corley nearly blasted Bracero out of the ring in the second and third rounds of their fight, but Gabriel came back and even knocked Corley down later in the fight. He's often cut over the eyes in his fights, but it rarely seems to bother him.

Bracero's primary advantage though is activity. Bracero has fought once this year and was in four fights in 2012. Salita hasn't fought in over a year and has only been in the ring twice in 19 months. Since Salita's lone loss to Khan in 2009, he has fought only five times while Bracero has fought 17 times in the same span.

Bracero has more power than his four KOs suggest, but when he's ahead, he doesn't go in for the stoppage. At that point, he prefers to box. It's unlikely that Bracero, whose punches can be too mechanical, will be able to outbox the more fluid Salita. Bracero's best hope is to constantly pressure Dmitriy in order to wear him down and frustrate him.

The match is scheduled for ten rounds. The winner of this crossroads bout hopes to get a significant fight on a major television network in the U.S. There has been some talk that the winner could face the winner of December's clash between Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi.

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