Undefeated WBO featherweight champion Rafael Espinoza is set to do battle against number two ranked contender (WBO) Sergio Chirino at the BleauLive Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada.

(Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

The match has the makings of an all-out war between two warriors determined to capture the victory by any means necessary; they will leave it all in the ring.

It’s his first title defense for Espinoza since capturing a surprising victory against Robeisy Ramirez last December. For Chirino, it’s the opportunity to accomplish his lifelong dream of capturing a world title.

Rafael Espinoza (24-0, 20 KOs) is the tallest featherweight champion in history at six feet and an inch. He has a difficult first defense when facing a very hungry fighter with a strong amateur background who is technically sound and possesses decent power.

Espinoza has a 6.5-inch reach advantage, and he’ll utilize it throughout the match. To be truly effective he needs to be disciplined and utilize his jab at long range for the entire match, Espinoza tends to get careless and fight on the inside instead.

If he does so, he’ll be giving Chirino the opportunity to box him on the inside. Espinoza is an orthodox fighter, and this is his strength; he sometimes chooses to switch to the southpaw stance to give his opponents a different look.

In his match against Robeisy, his transitioning of stances turned out costly, as he suffered a knockdown and a twisted ankle. He could have lost the match then and there, but Espinoza dug deep, finished the match, and captured the victory.

Espinoza threw nearly 1,000 punches in that match and stated at Wednesday’s press conference that he’s had a full camp, feels good, and is prepared to exceed that punch count this time around.

Chirino will have to neutralize Espinoza’s high output rate to be successful. Chirino’s average output rate of 47.3 punches thrown per round is significantly lower than Espinoza’s average rate of 77.4 punches (Compubox).

When on the defensive, Chirino will have to effectively catch, parry, and roll Espinoza’s punches and then target Espinoza’s large body offensively to slow him down.

Sergio Chirino (22-1, 13 KOs) normally likes to box on the outside as he tends to have the reach advantage against his opponents. At 5’9, he’s a good-sized featherweight. For this match, he’ll have to fight on the inside to be successful. This is a strategy that won’t pose a difficulty to find as Espinoza likes to fight on the inside as well.

Chirino has stated he feels he can drop Espinoza, as others have done in the past. This will be no easy task, as Espinoza’s volume and power can create difficulties. Only four have gone the distance with Rafael.

This match may become a battle of attrition whereby the winner will be the one who can withstand a 36-minute war. Neither will concede, and both are prepared to give it their all to capture the victory.

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