by Cliff Rold
There are plenty of months where Timothy Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov would have been plenty. March 2013 has been that and, now, much more. In the two weeks since, fans have been treated to a three-round thriller and twelve round war in big name action.
The really hardcore types also know about another must-see gem: Saul Roman-Jose Pinzon. It happened on the 23rd and it’s out there on YouTube for those who missed it.
Next week, Brian Viloria is back in action against the man who waged a classic with Roman Gonzalez on the Viloria-Tyson Marquez undercard. Boxing is on a hot streak. Viloria versus Juan Estrada should keep it there.
Until then, there are two big fights to look back at.
Let’s go to the report cards.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Abraham B; Stieglitz B/Post: B; B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Abraham A; Stieglitz B/Post: A; B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Abraham B; Stieglitz B/Post: C-; B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Abraham B; Stieglitz B+/Post: B+; B+
In their first fight, Robert Stieglitz regularly outworked Arthur Abraham early in rounds only for the heavy-handed Armenian to come back blasting. This time, Stieglitz borrowed a page from Rocky III and decided to set a pace the stiffer man might not be able to keep up with.
While some will debate whether Abraham could have gone on, his left eye was shut after three and it wasn’t worth the risk. His chances to win rested on a bomb, and he was getting laced. He would have had to take a lot of blind shots to get the job done.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. Abraham was throwing big late in the third and protested the stoppage. He had already dug deep in the second round, a round of the year candidate. Stieglitz dominated the second early, was buzzed badly, and then came back to have Abraham nearly out on his feet.
It was a thrill ride, and one dominated by the ultimate victor.
Stieglitz deserves a lot of praise. A fighter who rebuilt after some knockout losses earlier in his career, he’s won 13 of his last 14 and avenged the loss two fights ago to Abraham. There were some picking the upset on Saturday; no one saw it going quite like this. At 31, this is a fighter who has come into his own and earned the right to be considered for fights with the likes of Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, and maybe even division king Andre Ward.
He might not be favored in any of those, but he’s done enough to get a chance to find out how he’d do for sure.
Realistically, it might take one more go with Abraham. Closed eye endings in fast paced action rematches give way easily to a rubber matches. They are split at one apiece in two quality encounters. Potential mandatory George Groves, a winner on the undercard, may be a factor but the chance that II will be followed by III is pretty good.
We might all have to wait a wee bit longer for an even more tantalizing third chapter. The road there will be fun to travel. The most recent stop in what appears destined to be a trilogy was more than fun.
It was fandom-affirming.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Rios B; Alvarado B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Rios A; Alvarado B+/Post: A; A
Pre-Fight: Defense – Rios C; Alvarado B-/Post: B-; B-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Rios A; Alvarado A/Post: Same
What a fight.
In the first two rounds, it looked like Rios might have Alvarado’s number. Alvarado was having none of that. He survived a nasty second round assault, hurt Rios back in round three, and found a way to win in a fight that improved on the original.
We got a lot of the same, five rounds and change more of it, and an eighth round as full of consistent violence as one could ask for. Both guys showed vulnerability; they also showed tremendous will and just enough defense to keep the other man from banging them out. Alvarado, playing as much the boxer as the fight could allow, did a fine job of using his feet to create space and slipped more shots than it probably appeared. He also did a nice job of moving his hands in varying speeds to keep Rios off balance in spots.
Rios, a sucker for the right hand a lot of the night, did some decent work picking off shots with his gloves as he came forward. His big mistake on the night, the one he’ll likely rue going forward, was not using his jab more. He might not have won but he didn’t always give himself the smartest chances to either.
Rematches, the really good ones, can be like this. The guy who lost last time has to work harder on adjusting than the man who won. Why change what worked, right? Alvarado found his answer to Rios. One day, we’ll find out if Rios can find his own answer and make this rivalry Rios-Alvarado instead of Alvarado-Rios.
When their third fight comes is anyone’s guess. Reports had promoter Bob Arum non-committal on doing it right away but that might not mean anything. A lot is likely to depend on whether Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao go straight to a fifth fight or in another direction. If they do, maybe Rios and Alvarado do it again? Maybe they mix and match with Timothy Bradley and Ruslan Provodnikov?
Whatever it is, both men have been and remain must-see TV. They honored themselves, and their sport, again on Saturday.
Report Card Picks 2013: 7-7
Super Middleweight: Stieglitz breaks into the top four and Abraham drops a spot.
Jr. Welterweight: Alvarado moves up and Rios drops a single slot, right behind the man with whom he is now all tied up.
Lightweight: Hank Lundy lost a decision on the road…but he was up a class. As the two men just below him also lost their last two fights, there is really nowhere to drop. Yes, Lightweight is really this weak and lacking in depth right now.
Bantamweight: Joseph Agbeko, kept inactive by issues beyond his control, returns to action and the ratings with a win over Luis Melendez. Melendez is no great win but the only cause for his removal was a year off, so he isn’t punished too badly. A tough choice had to be made with #9 Jamie McDonnell and #10 Paulus Ambunda as to who really merited a rating more. The choice is in the list.
Strawweight: Katsunari Takayama upset the division leader Mario Rodriguez and left a quandary. Takayama hasn’t had a big win in years but no one else in class has really had a big win lately either. It was a tough call. Raul Garcia, who hasn’t fought at 105 in well over a year and who lost one at 108 over the weekend, exits the ratings.
The full results of note and impact on the ratings are a click away.
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Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at r[email protected]