Sunday, March 31, 2013

In the midst of the latest greatest boxing trilogy

Unfortunately it doesn't come around very often, but when it does it is something to behold. I'm talking about when two boxers come together that are just made for each other. I'm talking such a perfect combination, that the results are evenly matched, super exciting fights that result in a historic boxing trilogy.

Welcome to this generation's offering for inclusion into this special club between light welterweights Brandon 'Bam Bam' Rios (32-1, 23 KO's) and Mike Alvarado (34-1 (23 KO's). On Saturday night these two warriors engaged in a rematch of 2012's fight of the year and the result was just as good, if not better than last year. That is because this time the fight wasn't stopped before the end by the referee, so we got to witness all 12 rounds of this classic and more importantly, Alvarado won the decision; thus creating the need for the much anticipated rubber match.

How perfect are these two made for each other? Besides the fights, which speak for themselves, just look at the little things. Starting with their records, other than two more fights for Alvarado, they are virtually the same; by the way, if you haven't figured it out already the losses on their records are to each other. On HBO's 'Tale of the Tape' before the fight, they measured the same in both height and arm reach and then during the fight came the most glaring stat of them all. After round nine HBO displayed the punch count to that point and it showed Alvarado having thrown just two more punches total through nine and the both of them eerily landing the same amount; that's scary!

However, forget the numbers and the statistics, this is about two fighters that have come together during the peek of their careers and have put on a display of both skill and guts. On Saturday night the fight lived up to the hype, though it looked early liked there would be no reason for a third match. That is because in the second round Rios staggered Alvarado in his tracks with a straight jab of all punches. Alvarado was legitimately shook and struggled to get through the round; yet through his struggle he found the sense to keep throwing punches if you can believe that.

In between rounds he seemed to gather himself because he came out in the third round and during the course of exchanging landed an overhand right (pictured above) that rocked Rios. This was the turning point in the fight for two reasons. One is because it brought Alvarado back into the fight from an immediate two round deficit; and two was because that overhand right would be Rios kryptonite throughout the rest of this installment. Alvarado had found a home for that punch and Rios had no answer for it.

Nonetheless, just like Cameo's 1987 hit single, Rios and Alvarado went "Back & Forth" throughout, though Alvarado clearly separated himself in the latter part of the bout winning the last four crucial championship rounds. By doing so he won the WBO light welterweight title and redemption for his loss back in October 2012. However, the celebration was only minutes old before talks of a rubber match was spurred on by Rios himself.

During Alvarado's post fight interview with HBO's Max Kellerman, Rios barnstormed in yelling about how he had given Alvarado a rematch and now he needed to do the same. Of course Alvarado immediately obliged saying he would, but that next time he wanted Rios to come to his hometown of Denver, Colorado the way he had gone to Rios hometown in their first meeting. Rios said he would and both called upon promoter Bob Arum to make it happen.

For boxing fans like me, the setting can't be more perfect. Meanwhile for the two combatants involved, their place in boxing history will be cemented, assuming the third fight is like the first two, but at what cost? It's no mystery that a trilogy of this caliber takes something from the fighters they can never get back. They put so much into hurting one another that regardless of how good they are, they are never the same afterward; history has dictated such.

Before my time in the early 50's it was Willie Pep and Sandy Saddler; though they fought in an era where boxers fought unbelievable amounts of fights in their career. Between the two of them they combined for over 400 professional fights; that's insane and unheard of today. One can argue the Muhammad Ali/Joe Frazier trilogy in the '70's pretty much ended their careers for the most part; though Ali would defeat Leon Spinks later for his third title.

In more recent history we were treated to two such historical trifectas; Erik Morales versus Marco Antonio Barrera and Arturo Gatti versus Mickey Ward was Rios/Alvarado a decade ago. The six wars those four engaged in were so legendary they are linked to each other for eternity; but it took so much out of them they were never quite the same even with any success attained afterward. So here we are once again, in the midst of the latest greatest boxing trilogy. If you missed the first two fights, I suggest you catch replays if you can; because as I stated earlier, fights like these don't come around very often.

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