Steve Bunce on Boxing: Classic rematches only leave fight fans wanting more

 

A man called Sam Langford seemed to have some permanent unfinished business with his truly great rival Henry Wills, and they fought as many as 21 rematches.

There is no clear and clean science to rematches – they remain unpredictable, the result of varying factors. Langford and Wills were forced into conflict at a time when the sport of boxing had some serious problems and most of Langford's fights against Wills were for the world "colored" heavyweight title between 1913 and 1923. Modern fighters are spared the repetition that many had to endure to survive, but a rematch remains a major fixture on the boxing landscape.

Last weekend in Las Vegas and Liverpool, two great fight cities separated by a few licensing laws, the rematches of two of the best fights from 2012 took place, and in both fights the promise of a repeat of last year's intensity was expected.

At the Echo Arena in Liverpool, which is England's No 1 boxing venue, local fighter Derry Mathews met Anthony Crolla for the vacant Commonwealth lightweight title. The pair first met in Crolla's Oldham and the referee rescued him from his own bravery in round six. It was breathtaking and difficult to watch at times as they each wobbled from the punches.

On Saturday Crolla fought to plan, never risked another sickening defeat with a loss of his head, but was still trailing after nine rounds. The different corners were a study in tactics, despair and inspiration, and by about round 10 the men in Mathews' corner realised that their fighter had nothing left; his slender lead was not enough. Crolla had been pulled back, calmed down by trainer Joe Gallagher from the opening round, but that changed as the last three rounds of the drama unfolded.

It was beautiful to watch and in many ways was a much better fight. At the end it was a draw and they will go to a trilogy.

It was good in Liverpool but in Las Vegas, at the Mandalay Bay, the best fight so far this year took place when Mike Alvarado beat Brandon Rios to win the WBO light-welterweight title.

Last year Alvarado was stopped in round seven of a stunning slugfest and nobody genuinely believed that the rematch would be as good; it was better and rounds two and three have been added to the list of boxing's greatest rounds.

"The second round was the best round I have seen since the first round of [Marvin] Hagler and [Tommy] Hearns," said Bob Arum, the world's greatest promoter. "It really was that good and deserves to be mentioned with that round." The opening round of Hearns and Hagler in 1985 is considered the best round of boxing to have taken place.

I have no idea how Alvarado survived the second round, but he did, and in the third he had Rios out on his feet. The amazing fight went the full 12 rounds, Alvarado won, Rios laughed and Arum promised a rematch. It would be nice if both fights take place again on the same night. The four boxers have experienced so much together and hurt each other so often, and it remains impossible safely to predict the outcome of their third instalment; it is the crucial ingredient of shared pain that makes rematches so attractive.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Grange Retirement Home: Full Time Care Team Manager

£22,400: The Grange Retirement Home: This is a key role which requires a sound...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada