Tonight's Knockout Kings II card promised action, but nobody really saw this coming. After a terrific fight between Keith Thurman and Diego Chaves in the Showtime opener, Omar Figueroa and Nihito Arakawa followed up with an utterly savage war in San Antonio, in what may be the new leader for 2013 Fight of the Year.
Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KO) dished out the vast majority of the punishment, which is not to say that Arakawa (24-3-1, 16 KO) didn't do some damage of his own. The fight was one of those that is impossible to describe immediately after it has ended, and does not in any way lend itself well to these quick post-fight takes we have to do on this site.
This fight was so brutal that at stages, it became uncomfortable to watch, almost scary. It seemed that almost all media members and even some fighters on Twitter were all but begging for the fight to be stopped, as were the participants in our live thread. But Arakawa was so constantly in motion, always staying right in the pocket, always moving his hands, that it would have been hard to ask referee Laurence Cole to do anything more than a technically questionable mercy stoppage. And though he had a bad eye, we've seen worse injuries carry on in fights many, many times.
The idea then would be for Arakawa's corner to stop it, and that clearly wasn't happening in this fight. Arakawa fought like a man truly willing to die in the ring. Fighters say that all the time, but you rarely really see an example of it. Arakawa's effort tonight was an example of that sort of fearless pride and determination.
Scores for the fight were 119-107, 118-108, and 118-108. I stopped scoring after the third round because it was just too insane for me to try and score the rounds while also just enjoying the spectacle, but those scores seemed a little wide to me, and most scores I saw online agreed with that, a lot of them 116-110 or 115-111.
This was an instant classic and if you missed it, catch a replay. You have to see this fight. Considerations for FOTY are not complete without it. Hats off to both of these men.