In the fight game, a big win on the main stage of HBO usually proves to the world that you have arrived on the scene. However, with Alberto Machado, it may have done just the opposite. Jezreel Corrales was a huge favorite and was looking to punch his ticket to bigger fights in the junior lightweight department. He had scored wins over Takashi Uchiyama (twice) and Robinson Castellanos and was looking to further improve his 22-1 record against a guy that was undefeated, but had yet to face any real competition in Alberto Machado.
Machado had obliterated almost all of his competition in one to two rounds before being taken the distance in his last fight against relative unknown Carlos Morales. Machado was the feel-good story of this fight as he hails from hurricane-destroyed Puerto Rico, and had dedicated the fight to his home country. It was easy to root for him in this fight, but as the fight wore on, his work looked more than cut out for him.
Back from the brink
Machado was clearly outclassed and out-gunned from pretty much the opening bell. Corrales was beating him to the punch all night long, and his left hand was finding a home on Alberto's face every time it was thrown. Machado was losing all on all three scorecards going into the eighth round and had even been put on his seat in the fifth.
The one shining light he had going in this fight though, was that he had wobbled Corrales with hard shots that Jezreel was jumping into every time he attacked. It was becoming clear that Alberto's only chance in this fight would be to land the one big shot that Corrales doesn't get up from. Then it happened. Corrales was getting more and more aggressive as he seemed to sense that his over-matched opponent was there for the taking if he wanted it.
He was ripping shots at Machado whilst they both threw at the same time. Machado's got there first as the punch shut down the legs of the Corrales, and his attempt to hold himself up turned into a tackle. Although he technically was to his feet at the count of ten, referee Mark Nelson had seen enough based on the crushing shot landed, and the followup tackle. Machado celebrated a big upset win and although it looked to validate his record, it left more questions than answers.
Where does Machado go from here?
A knockout win over a fighter like Corrales should be a win that puts you on the map as an up-and-coming fighter. This win however, will likely put Machado on a "wanted" poster for every fighter in the junior lightweight division. He looked about a mile-and-a-half slower than the speedy Corrales, and his defensive game plan seemed to be, "block everything with my face".
Corrales has never been known as a huge puncher, but for a while, it felt like almost everything he was throwing was landing flush on the cranium of Machado. Alberto was receiving good advice from his cornerman, Freddie Roach, to double up his jab and use it throwing the big left down the center, but his jabs weren't even close to the constantly moving target that was Jezreel. When Machado doubled them up, they looked even more foolish as he was essentially punching at empty air.
What he had going for him in this fight is his borderline reckless persistence. A fighter that was seemingly losing every aspect of the fight can often get frustrated or quit. Machado was not just in this fight to see the final bell, and he was proving it every round. He stalked Corrales around the ring and hung in the pocket during exchanges. He winged hard shots in return to the punches he was eating and never lost his composure when faced with adversity. He also proved that his power goes beyond knocking out tomato cans on the local circuit when he ended the fight with one shot.
There are fighters that can overwhelm their opposition with volume and there are fighters that can hurt you with one shot and then put you away afterwards. It takes a special power to unplug someone with one shot, and that is the kind of power that Machado has in this division. He has deficiencies as a fighter but he also possesses an equalizer he showed Saturday night. That equalizer will always give him a chance regardless of who is opposite him in the ring. The question will remain the next time he steps in the ring - will it be enough?
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- watch highlights of the fight here
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