Nico Carrillo vs Gorka Caro – VICTORY 5 Preview

UAM Muay Thai - Nico Carrillo

As announced by Victory Promotions yesterday, Nico Carrillo will be joining his team mate Stephen Irvine on the VICTORY 5 show in December. He will face tricky Spaniard Gorka Caro. Carrillo is coming off his latest win in Sweden against well touted Kenny Hong in what was a dominant performance.

Currently training out of the Glasgow Thai Boxing Academy, Carrillo has a strong record of 15-3-1, including a TKO win over Shane Farquharson on his last showing for Victory. He will be looking to make it two against the fast paced Caro. Currently ranked as the UK #5 at 63.5KG and 4-1 in his last five fights, Nico will be looking for a strong performance to enable him to climb those rankings.

Feints and plenty of shuffling

Carrillo is one of the most awkward Thai boxers you could hope to face and generally makes landing even the most basic of strikes exceedingly difficult. One of his bouts which highlights this best is his last performance on Victory at the Lee Smith Memorial Show. Facing him was Shane Farquharson an excellent fighter in his own right.

Neither fighter gave much away in the initial round with both men looking to control their opponent’s lead hand and using probing teeps and jabs. Immediately Carrillo showed one of his favourite moves, a shuffling step. Bearing similarities to the famous Saenchai shuffle, this is more pronounced step than you see in a typical foot switch that is used when throwing a switch kick. This is often used to get an opponent to second guess where the strike is coming from and ideally check incorrectly or prematurely.

However, Farquharson was able to judge these feinting shuffles fairly accurately. Carrillo would shuffle but then not throw the kick as Farquharson already had a check waiting. In the second round Carrillo used the pattern he had established with Farquharson and began to shuffle into a left cross. Farquharson, expecting the kick, checked and loosened his guard, allowing the punch to land.

Throughout the second and third rounds, Carrillo began to use the lead left hook to the body, one of his favourite shots. Gradually slowing the output of Farquharson and providing interest in the investment later on in the fight.

Carrillo finished the fight in the fourth round when he showed a slick variation of his shuffling step. Switching his feet and moving forwards, Carrillo stretched out his hands as if to clinch and pulled Farquharson’s arms down. He then disengaged and threw a short right hook to he exposed chin of Farquharson. After staggering his opponent Carrillo swarmed him with body shots and finally dropped him with a knee to the head.

When Farquharson made the count, Carrillo didn’t rush the finish pressuring his opponent against the ropes. As he tried to advance off them, Carrillo caught him with a brutal body shot, dropping Farquharson and finishing the fight. Speaking about his awkward style, “There was reason I adopted this style it’s just my style. Its grown on me over the years of fighting. I think it’s a smart and slick way of fighting and it works perfect for me”

A more aggressive style

Carrillo most recent bout against Kenny Hong showed a marked difference in his style. Whilst never the sort of fighter to do his work sitting on the ropes, Carrillo’s fights also showed he was not a pressure fighter, instead preferring to push the action in the open centre of the ring. This was not the case in his latest bout.

From the offset he was using rapid switch kicks and forcing Hong back onto the ropes. Carrillo rarely backed up during the duration of the fight, and when he did so it was immediately followed by him attempting to pressure.

Once again he utilised his shuffle step, in this case as more of an offensive weapon. Using it to back move forward and back Hong up. As well as confusing the direction of the kick, Carrillo also used it moving forwards as an entry for the elbow. If Hong backed up out of range from either the elbow or kick, Carrillo gained territory and reduced Hong’s options.

Carrillo insists that this is a permanent change in his style, “This a permanent change in my approach of fighting. So you can expect a fight when I’m in there.”

The new match up

Carrillo’s opponent is the Spaniard, Gorka Caro Miguelez who is currently 25-3-2. Not lacking in either the speed, aggression or the stamina departments, Caro is a blazingly fast starter (stopping his last opponent within the first round). Caro could pose some interest stylistic problems for Carrillo.

One issue Carrillo has had in the past is his low hands, especially when executing his favourite shuffle. Like any hand position, Carrillo’s has its advantages and negatives. On the plus side, it allows him more flexibility in how and where he throws his punches as well as freeing them up to catch and counter kicks more easily. However, like everything in Thai boxing, it is not a one way street.

In his bout against George Mouzakitis, Carrillo was often countered by his opponent timing his left hook to the head of Carrillo as his hands dropped during the shuffle. Eventually Mouzakitis stopped giving ground to Carrillo’s pressure and attempted to counter each time his feet began to twitch. Although less refined, Hong had reasonable success with timing blitzing jab crosses down the centre. It’s conceivable that Caro has speed enough to bother Carrillo with this tactic.

What this fight is likely to come down to is whether Carrillo can force Caro’s respect early on and slow down the pace of the fight. Then he can begin to build the fight in his favour with his constant feints, body work and shuffles.

Although disappointed with the original Mouzakitis falling through, it seems Carrillo might already have his eyes on another fight, “I want to fight George but we know that’s not going to happen now. So if Luke Hill beats him I’d like to beat Luke”. Regardless of his next opponent, Carrillo will be keen to put on another strong performance and contest for the UK 1# spot.

Fight Record

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