Erick Bone was chilling in New York early last March when he got the call: The second-ever Premier Boxing Champions card was taking place in 24 hours in Ontario, California, and a replacement opponent was needed for former 147-pound champ Shawn Porter.
Bone quickly accepted the offer, packed a bag, flew across the country and weighed in for the fight at 9 a.m. That night, he stood in the ring at Citizens Business Bank Arena opposite Porter for a bout that was televised on Spike TV.
Just like Superman, Erick Bone had swooped in to save the day. It wouldn’t be long, though, before the native of Manabí, Ecuador, would encounter his kryptonite.
Bone (pronounced bo-NAY) injured his right knee early in the bout before succumbing in Round 5, when Porter dropped him twice, the second knockdown ending the scheduled 10-round contest.
“I sprained my right knee in the second round,” said Bone, who fought Porter at a career-high 149 pounds after taking the fight on such late notice. “By the fifth round, I really couldn’t put any weight on that knee.”
A little more than a year later, the 27-year-old Bone, who has bounced between the 140- and 147-pound divisions during his career, finds himself in a similar position: After an injury removed Felix Diaz from Saturday’s scheduled bout against onetime 135-pound champion Miguel Vazquez, Bone once again was asked to come to the rescue.
Only this time, rather than 24 hours notice, Bone (16-3, 8 KOs) was given two weeks to get ready to face Vazquez (35-5, 13 KOs) at Cowboys Dancehall in San Antonio in the main event of a PBC card on Fox Sports 1 (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT). The fight, which is set for 10 rounds, will be contested at 144 pounds.
“I’ve had time to prepare and evaluate Vazquez’s style, which is a big difference,” said Bone, whose loss to Porter ended a four-fight winning streak. “Plus, Vazquez is in my weight category, and Shawn Porter wasn’t. He’s not as big a puncher as Shawn was, but I can’t underestimate his power.”
After recovering from the knee injury, Bone returned the ring December 5 to battle another ex-champ in Chris Algieri, who once held a 140-pound title. Bone was competitive and survived a flash knockdown in the eighth round, but lost a 10-round unanimous decision in a fight in which both boxers weighed 145¾ pounds.
“ If Vazquez is aggressive, I’ll box him. If it’s a brawl, I can brawl. ” Erick Bone, on facing former 135-pound world champion Miguel Vazquez
So why would he agree to take a third consecutive fight against a former champion—and do so for the second time on short notice? Well, for one thing, Bone believes Vazquez is going to have issues adjusting his game plan as he goes from preparing for Diaz, a 5-foot-5 southpaw, to facing Bone, a 5-foot-9 right-hander.
“We know Vazquez wasn’t preparing for a guy my height, which could give him problems,” said Bone of Vazquez, an elusive 5-10 counterpuncher. “He has to bring the fight to me rather than use those long arms as a counterpuncher from distance against someone who is shorter. And I can fight inside or outside.
“If Vazquez is aggressive, I’ll box him. If it’s a brawl, I can brawl.”
Another possible reason Bone didn’t hesitate to fight Vazquez is that the 29-year-old Mexican has looked vulnerable of late, dropping two of his last three bouts. That includes losing a 10-round unanimous decision to former 130-pound champion Algenis Mendez in October in a bout contested at 135¾ pounds that also took place at Cowboys Dancehall.
Two fights before losing to Mendez, Vazquez came up on the wrong end of a split decision against Mickey Bey, ending the Mexican’s 13-fight winning streak that included six successful defenses of his 135-pound title.
Are the losses to Bey and Mendez signs of Vazquez’s decline? Bone will soon find out. And unlike when he faced Porter, Bone—who has been working with trainer Nirmal Lorick at the Star City Gym in Brooklyn, New York—will be able to handle whatever this former champion throws at him.
“Erick’s been in camp for some time now preparing for a July fight against a right-hander, so this time, he’ll be ready,” manager Eli McKay said. “Vazquez is going to pay for everything that has happened to Erick in the past couple of fights.”
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