Defensive-minded Vazquez vows more aggressive approach against Bone

Miguel Vazquez has long eschewed the traditional blood-and-guts approach of his Mexican countrymen. So don’t expect the onetime 135-pound champion to all of a sudden turn into a power puncher just because he’s jumping up in weight for Saturday’s 144-pound clash with Erick Bone.

Vazquez vs Bone

A former 135-pound champion, Miguel Vazquez (left) has bulked up by nearly 10 pounds for Saturday's 144-pound showdown against Erick Bone. (Ryan Greene/Premier Boxing Champions)

That said, Vazquez isn’t going to employ boxing’s version of the prevent defense, either. Instead, he plans to modify his typically technical style against Bone, a high-volume boxer-puncher.

“We know that Bone will throw a lot of punches and be there to fight, so Miguel has to take advantage,” said Javier Capetillo, who trains Vazquez. “We don’t want Miguel to lose his ability to be elusive, but we want him to fight more at middle-distance range and not run around so much, coming back with more immediate counterattacks to make Bone pay after making him miss.”

Miguel Vazquez (35-5, 13 KOs) will face Erick Bone (16-3, 8 KOs) of Manabí, Ecuador, in a 10-round main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card (Fox Sports 1, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT). The fight will take place at Cowboys Dancehall in San Antonio, the site of Vazquez’s most recent fight, a unanimous decision loss to former titleholder Algenis Mendez in October in a bout contested at 135¾ pounds.

It was Vazquez’s second defeat in his last three outings, the other being a disputed split decision against Mickey Bay in September 2014. The latter setback ended Vazquez’s 13-fight winning streak and his four-year reign as a 135-pound world champion.

“I believe that Miguel did win the Mickey Bey fight, and losing that affected him mentally. It took him a while to recuperate from that,” Capetillo said. “Against Mendez, I think we lost because we [fought tentatively] and could have done more.”

Doing more is at the forefront of the game plan against the 27-year-old Bone.

“I want my fans to believe in me again, so this is very important for my career,” said Vazquez, from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. “I’m definitely going to be more aggressive and make it more of a fight, so we’ve trained to be more offensive-minded, making [Bone] miss and then capitalizing.

“I’m going to try to knock him out, but if I don’t get it, then I really need to win this fight impressively.”

An interesting subplot to this fight is the 144-pound weight limit.

While Bone has spent his nearly five-year career fighting between 139½ and 149 pounds, the 29-year-old Vazquez has not once tipped the scales at more than 139 pounds since weighing 148¼ for his second loss to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez nearly eight years ago. (Vazquez also fell to Alvarez in his pro debut in January 2006.)

However, following the loss to Mendez, Capetillo felt it was time for Vasquez—who fought mostly between 134 and 136 pounds for the past 7½ years—to beef up.

“Miguel is a much stronger fighter at 140 at this point,” said Capetillo, whose fighter tipped the scales Friday at 143.6 pounds, while Bone checked in at the 144 limit. “If he does as well in this fight as we think he can, then he’ll be ready for another title shot. When he’s focused, mentally, I don’t think anyone can beat him.”

Bone, a 5-foot-9 right-hander, represents a replacement opponent for Vazquez, who was initially scheduled to face former Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz, a 5-foot-5 southpaw who had to withdraw because of injury.

This is the second time in 14 months that Bone has filled in for an injured fighter, having been a day-before substitute for Roberto Garcia in March 2015 against former 147-pound champion Shawn Porter. Bone was knocked out in the fifth round by Porter, then hit the canvas again in the eighth round during a unanimous decision loss to onetime 140-pound champion Chris Algieri in December.

Those consecutive defeats have left Bone to view this battle against Vazquez as a must-win if he’s to ever make the leap from fighting former champions to challenging current ones. To that end, Bone says his best bet to prevail Saturday is to target Vazquez’s midsection.

“A body attack is very important, especially with the way Vazquez likes to avoid punches,” Bone said. “When he dodges a punch, he kind of moves a little bit too much and leaves himself a little bit open on the body.

“I’ve worked on a lot of boxing techniques in the gym, like being able to cut off the ring and to get him in a corner and go to the body and generally work on the inside. Whatever style I have to apply, I’ll apply that to win. If it’s a decision or an early knockout, there is no other option for me but to win.”

For complete coverage of Vazquez vs Bone, check out our fight page.

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