So that’s his secret. (via)
The meat on the menu this past weekend for the fearsome middleweight puncher was Nobuhiro Ishida, and while Gennady Golovkin beating him was no more surprising than his choice of favorite meal, it was at least somewhat surprising that Golovkin was able to stop Ishida given how sturdy he’s been in the past. It was some shot, too.
We’ll have more on the card Golovkin headlined in this edition of Weekend Afterthoughts, but mostly we’ll be talking about the Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios II awesomeness.
How good was Alvarado-Rios II? We all saw it with our own eyes, and Patrick Connor provided a sterling account here. It is, at minimum, a sure-fire Fight of the Year finalist, alongside Timothy Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov. Round 2 is a Round of the Year candidate. Here’s where my not watching it live hurts its standing with me, a little: I lean toward liking Bradley-Provodnikov a bit more for 2013, and preferring Rios-Alvarado I last year, too. Rios-Alvarado I is as pure a toe-to-toe brawl as I can imagine, so whether you watched it live or not makes no difference. Bradley-Provodnikov and Alvarado-Rios II, by contrast, benefited from the ways they defied expectations. Nobody thought Bradley was going to take the action-packed tact he did against Provodnikov; nobody thought Alvarado could box as well as he did against Rios in the rematch, let alone hurt him along the way when he couldn’t dent him with flush power shots the first time. Watching those expectations be defied in real time, rather than knowing the outcome and watching the fight afterward, was bound to enhance the drama. That said, it was indisputably great stuff in any universe, and one of the best boxing sequels ever, especially given the tendency of installment "II" in a sequence to be a comedown.
Next for Alvarado and Rios. Golden Boy may have most of the talent at 140-147 pounds, but Top Rank has, with a handful of fighters, set up a number of enticing potential match-ups. Top Rank’s Bob Arum – in between offering some scathing yet amusing disses of his promotional rival – said at the post-fight news conference that Alvarado-Rios III wouldn’t be right away. Normally, I’d want it ASAP, but there are a number of good fights available to both men that make it so I am content to wait. This would be my preference: Manny Pacquiao-Mike Alvarado; Juan Manuel Marquez-Timothy Bradley; Rios-Provodnikov, with only Provdnikov not under the Top Rank banner right now.
Popularity of Alvarado-Rios II. TV numbers were up from last time, ticket sales were down. You can explain all this in a variety of possible ways. There’s often a disconnect between TV ratings and live gates, where some fights do really well on TV but not so well with tickets sold. The rematch was in Vegas rather than Southern California, Rios’ stomping grounds and home to a larger Hispanic population. And maybe people were less willing to shell out bucks to watch something live where they thought the outcome was a certainty – Rios was the pick of virtually everyone to beat Alvarado this time – whereas turning on a TV costs nothing. Also, apparently, it was an HBO free preview weekend for at least some cable/satellite providers. Either way, yes, Alvarado-Rios II was good for boxing, but that it sold fewer tickets than Andre Ward-Chad Dawson and equaled its TV ratings shows once more that there is no direct correlation between expected action and eyeballs; there’s more than one type of boxing fan, from those that like only one flavor (action, say) to those that only like some other kind of flavor to those who like all the flavors. And yes, I beat this horse to death a long time ago, but when there’s so much raw propaganda in the opposite direction, you’ve got to keep flaying it to the bone, apparently.
Terrence Crawford-Breidis Prescott. With so many people in Vegas for the main event's action flavor, it was inevitable that Crawford’s slippery defense and stick-and-move style was going to get him booed on the HBO undercard. Still, the lightweight moved up a division and handled the very large 140-pounder Prescott more easily than anyone ever had, and it was hard not to be impressed by the showing even with how limited Prescott is. Crawford’s for real, and he has the look of someone who’s going to be a force at 135-140 before long.
Light heavyweight ranks. There were some meaningful bouts at light heavyweight this past weekend, with our man Andrew Harrison covering the Tony Bellew-Isaac Chilemba draw. On the card headlined by Golovkin, Edwin Rodriguez beat Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna by unanimous decision, while Denis Grachev handed Zsolt Erdei his first ever defeat. Grachev’s win was controversial in some quarters, but I scored it a draw and thought it could’ve gone either way. Grachev-Rodriguez should be an interesting finale to this “Super Four” tournament, assuming it goes forward. It’s not anything that’s going to have any real impact on the division, though, like Showtime’s bantamweight and super middleweight tournaments did with those divisions, because Grachev is someone who only ought to be ranked near the bottom of the division even if he beats Rodriguez convincingly in their catchweight bout, and Rodriguez has indicated he plans to go back to super middleweight shortly. To see how all this affected the Transnational Boxing Rankings, go here. To read an ESPN article about the TBRB that features quotes from yours truly, go here.
The rest. Rios interrupting Alvarado’s post-fight interview with a bunch of incomprehensible yelling offended a number of people, but I say “whatever.” It ain’t the classiest thing to do, but nobody ever accused Rios of class. He gets a pass from me for most things as long as he’s in Fight of the Year candidates as often as he is… And yes, to those who don’t like Rios in my top 20 pound-for-pound standings, it’s safe to assume he’ll be gone in the next update… It looks like, in fact, Brian Vera might’ve fought his way out of a middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. showdown with his performance on Friday Night Fights – Chavez seems to be targeting Darren Barker, whose boxing ability probably makes him better prep for a Sergio Martinez rematch anyway… The aforementioned Mr. Connor has some more to say on Alvarado-Rios II that he’s offered in video form. Check out his magnificent beard, silky-smooth baritone and cogent thoughts below.