Alvarado stayed unbeaten (33-0, 23 KO) with a gritty, hard-fought and hard-earned decision over Maurico Herrera last night, easily stealing the show, even though it became sort of lost in the shuffle after the stomach-turning disgrace of the Rios-Abril decision (but we'll get to that).
At 31, Alvarado is looking to move into the big fights sooner than later, having squandered part of what should have been is prime with outside the ring issues. Now that he's gotten it together, he's starting to bloom as a fighter, but it's hard not to admit that his ceiling is likely low. Can he beat guys better than Herrera and Breidis Prescott?
A matchup with Brandon Rios would make a lot of sense. It favors both of them stylistically and is unlikely to be anything less than a great fight. Given the hit Rios took last night, it might also serve as a good image rehab fight for Rios if he could win.
Herrera came up short in his biggest opportunity, but proved he's a legit fighter. His chin was really outstanding against Alvarado, who banged away at him and busted him up, but never seemed to have him in serious trouble. Herrera, as I said last night, may be stepping back to Friday Night Fights level next if he can't find another lucrative shot at 140, but it would be a welcome return -- sort of like a hero gracing the FNF airwaves more than a guy coming back with his tail between his legs after taking an ass-kicking. He did take an ass-kicking, for the record -- and he took it well, and he was in the fight the whole way. You can't ask for more than what Alvarado and Herrera gave last night.
Juan Manuel Marquez
Well, he certainly wasn't a loser on the night. He'll have a big fight in July, may still wind up fighting Manny Pacquiao, and sold a lot of seats down in Mexico City, fighting in his native city for the first time since November 1994. And he easily defeated Serhiy Fedchenko. It was anything but a thrilling fight (it was pretty snoozy, to be honest), but that wasn't entirely unexpected. Marquez was more middle ground than anything last night, but this is Winners and Losers, not Winners, Losers, and Guys Who Made No Changing Impact at All. So Marquez is a winner, because he's not a loser.
When Fedchenko and team celebrated their ability to go 12 rounds with Marquez, I knew for sure that they'd "won" in some small way. Fedchenko will now be in demand to travel the world. He's not very good, he's not dangerous in any way, and he doesn't totally lack credibility. We'll be hearing about this dangerous Russian for a while longer.
Brian Kenny, Rich Marotta and Raul Marquez
This three-man team was fantastic for the most part, with Kenny again proving his value in the boxing field, to the point that I really wish someone would sign him to work boxing cards regularly. I know he has a deal with MLB Network, but that didn't prevent him from working last night, so why couldn't he work at HBO or SHO for a sport that has nothing to do with baseball? He's been sorely missed at ESPN this season for Friday Night Fights and it was good to have him back. Marquez is one of the better ex-fighter commentators out there, at least when he's not paired with Col. Bob Sheridan, whose goofy charm and even goofier cheerleading drags his partners down with him to the point they're acting like Martirosyan-Lowry was a statement fight. And Marotta's a veteran color guy who did a fine job, too.
I want to put her in this column because I want to make something clear: When I pick on some of the things Crystina has to say, I'm not saying that she's doing a bad job. She isn't reading script, but it's not like she's there to go in-depth with the fighters and ask the tough questions. She seems like a hard-working woman who does the best she can when she's often presented with suicide tasks for her credibility, such as having to sputter that Rios missing weight on Friday "only ADDS to the drama!" It's not your fault, Crystina.
Rios had by far his worst performance last night and had no business getting the cards, but he got them, of course, because that's how boxing works. There is the idea out there, with a derelict few, that Abril didn't do enough to win. Well, first of all, I don't see that at all. These folks are tending to point out the flaws of Abril in the fight, which are real and are, in some order:
- Abril is boring.
- Abril held too much.
- Abril didn't land a lot of big shots or have much power.
Let's be quick here: Abril is boring, did hold too much, and didn't land a lot of big shots or have much power. Yet he still clearly won this fight, because Brandon Rios was even worse. Rios didn't have any power either. He didn't land any big shots. He couldn't do anything in there. I do believe Abril probably should have had a point taken for holding. But forget what Abril didn't do -- what's the argument for Rios? All I'm hearing are arguments against Abril. No one is coming up with legitimate reasons that Rios should have been close, let alone won this fight. It's not like Rios was effectively pressuring or landing heavy shots. He did nothing! Rios wasn't exciting last night either. So why does he get the pass? Because he's been exciting before?
Bottom line is he was out of shape, had no energy, and couldn't fake his way through it like he did with John Murray, who stood still and let a brawl break out. Abril actually moved around and boxed from the outside. But let's jump right into Abril.
He lost last night, too. Not only was he robbed, but all of the criticisms of his performance are, in fact, true and valid. They're just not reasons he should have actually lost the fight on the judges' scorecards. He clearly was the better of two guys who combined to put on a pretty lousy fight from an entertainment standpoint.
Now, since he didn't get the ugly win he deserved, he will likely be cast aside into purgatory. The win would have forced him into another bigger fight on TV. The loss means he's just a rather dull fighter who got robbed, and since boxing has a wonderful way of completely brushing this bullshit under the rug, he'll just basically go away. No one's going to want their guy fighting him -- he's awkward, he's difficult to fight, and he's going to make it ugly and not let the hot ticket look good. Boxing's history is littered with guys like this, many of whom probably could have done more than they were allowed to do. It's not even that he was too good for his own good; it's more that Rios was so bad that it ultimately trickles down and kills Abril's career, because he basically couldn't help but win that fight last night, save for the insanity on the scorecards of Jerry Roth and Glenn Trowbridge.
Look, this is a sport, supposedly. If you want guaranteed attempts at entertainment, watch WWE. I don't mean watch WWE in addition to watching boxing, I mean watch it instead. I love my entertaining fighters and dump on guys I don't find fun to watch, too. I do not like watching Andre Ward fight. But I am not going to be so stupid as to tell you he hasn't earned the right to be called the best super middleweight in the world. There's a huge difference between saying you aren't dying to see someone fight and blatantly ignoring that they clearly deserved a win. Abril was not obligated to be entertaining any more than Rios was. He also was really no less entertaining than Rios.
Judging is subjective, it's said, but it's not this subjective, or I suppose I could have found a way to score Froch over Ward and explain it away with, "Well, he did more of what I like." I fundamentally do not like watching Abril's approach to boxing. I just don't. And while this may seem contradictory right now, no, I'm not itching to see him again, either. But if last night was an example of how Brandon Rios will be fighting from now on, you could just as much count me out of him, too. I know he's got the history Abril doesn't have, but past fights don't count on the night. Abril won last night, but he didn't really win in any way. He's just another victim.
In the sense that Marquez is a winner out of last night because he's not a loser, Gesta is a loser because he's not a winner. Nothing about his performance last night was impressive, and I left the fight downgrading him in my prospect notebook. (I don't actually keep one...or do I?)
For $55 in HD last night, you got one great fight (Alvarado vs Herrera), a forgettable FNF showcase sort of bout (Gesta vs Cuero), a disgraceful turn of events (Rios vs Abril), and just a fairly dull final fight (Marquez vs Fedchenko) that made no true impression either way. Honestly, if Rios vs Abril had just been a routine fight with no controversy, and Rios had won but it was no big deal either way, then I might have been compelled to say, "Alvarado vs Herrera was damn near worth the PPV pricetag alone." But everything great about Alvarado vs Herrera was washed away within an hour. Boxing once again spit in your face and called your mother a whore, because, y'know, what are you gonna do about it?