Brandon Rios: Rios’ fight against Richard Abril was a disaster from the beginning. First, he was supposed to face Yuriorkis Gamboa in what would’ve been a much bigger fight. That fell through. Then he failed to make weight on Friday, which precluded him from regaining a 135-pound title. And then, on Saturday night, he appeared to lose a decision to Abril and possibly a chance to face Juan Manuel Marquez this year. Alas, two bumbling judges – Jerry Roth and Glen Trowbridge – came to his rescue by awarding him a split-decision victory he didn’t deserve. No one is questioning Rios’ effort. He appeared to be flat, perhaps the result of his battle with weight, but he tried. And there is some truth to his complaint that Abril held excessively. This is reality, though: Rios (30-0-1, 22 knockouts) lost to a very good boxer with a style that will always be difficult for him. He should consider himself very fortunate.
Richard Abril: The bad news is that Abril (17-3-1, 8 KOs) got robbed. The Cuban did his job. He outboxed Rios from beginning to end, did more than enough damage with quick, hard combinations to win rounds and fairly easily withstood anything Rios threw at him. An unbiased and clear-thinking observer would’ve given Rios no more than four rounds. This was the performance of Abril’s life and should’ve been his biggest victory. Instead, Roth and Trowbridge undoubtedly left him bitterly disappointed. I still wonder after all these years of covering boxing how those in the sport sleep at night knowing they’ve cheated a young man who risked his life in the ring. The good news is that we saw what we saw, an excellent boxer with the ring intelligence to negate Rios’ seek-and-destroy style. Abril lost a fight but won over a lot of fans.
Rios-Abril: One of the sad elements to this debacle was Abril’s reaction when the decision was announced. He didn’t seem to be the least bit surprised, as if saying, “Of course I lost. I was fighting in Rios’ world, not mine.” Makes me sick. Roth and Trowbridge would claim the obvious, that they scored it as they saw it. The problem is that almost no one else saw it the way they did. Check out the comments on Rios-Abril stories and message boards; you’d be hard pressed to find more than a few stubborn Rios fans who believes their man deserved the decision. More than 80 percent of those who took part in our latest RingTV.com poll (as of Sunday evening) had Abril winning. We’ve come to expect hometown decisions wherever fights take place, which apparently is why Abril reacted as he did. That doesn’t mean they’re acceptable, though. Each one eats away at the credibility of the sport. And this was a big one.
Juan Manuel Marquez’s victory: Marquez’s one-sided victory over Sergei Fedchenko on Saturday in Mexico City didn’t accomplish much. The fight was never destined to be a factor in whether a possible fourth meeting with Manny Pacquiao in November would happen, barring a stunning upset by Fedchenko (30-2, 13 KOs). Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs) also was fighting in his hometown for the first time since 1994. One would presume that he wanted to give a special performance, which certainly didn’t happen. Marquez clearly won a battle of counterpunchers but, aside from some big shots late in the fight, the future Hall of Famer provided relatively few thrills. Of course, Marquez realized his most-important goal: He won the fight. And if can get another shot at Pacquiao – or even another high-profile matchup – we’ll forget all about his forgettable meeting with Fedchenko.
Tyson Fury: The 6-foot-9 Englishman knew that Martin Rogan wasn’t a serious threat on Saturday in Northern Ireland. So Fury came up with something novel to add a little intrigue to the mismatch: The orthodox boxer fought left-handed. “I was just practicing a few things in there, and I found it a bit comfortable to go left-handed. I am a world-class heavyweight, and I am going to try different things,” Fury said. “I’m ambidextrous, I can box with both hands. I can hit as hard with my right as I can with my left.” Of course, Fury (18-0, 13 KOs) would’ve had no trouble in either stance: He scored a fifth-round knockout. THE RING’s No. 10-rated heavyweight seems to be evolving into a very good fighter and a significant attraction. He has already beaten Dereck Chisora, his biggest victory. We look forward to seeing how he will fare when he takes another step up the opposition scale.
Mike Alvarado: Alvarado doesn’t seem to do anything particularly well. “Mile High” Mike, who outpointed capable Mauricio Herrera on the Rios-Abril card Saturday, is a solid boxer with decent power and admirable fighting spirit. He also seems to be unusually strong, tough and fit. Add all that up and you get a formidable fighting machine, which is why he has a perfect record (33-0, 23 KOs). Rios might still be first in line to face Marquez in a lucrative matchup in about six or seven months. If that doesn’t happen, Alvarado, 31, certainly has earned the opportunity. Not many fighters toil for more than eight years and build such a solid resume without getting a chance to fight for a major title. As he said, “I’ve paid my dues.” Marquez would be favored to beat Alvarado but no one – not even a future Hall of Famer – will have an easy time with him.
Michael Katsidis: The Aussie brawler is probably near the end of his career even though he’s only 31 because of the way he fights. He has lost four of his past five fights, including a majority decision to a relatively unknown Ghanaian named Albert Mensah on Friday in Las Vegas. He has lost most of his biggest fights. And, frankly, he was never a great fighter to begin with. He has never cheated those who watch his fights, though. Katsidis (28-6, 23 KOs) demonstrated once again against Mensah that he gives everything he has seemingly every minute of every fight, which is all anyone can expect from any fighter. He has come close to winning a major championship, getting only as far as an interim title. That will probably gnaw at him the rest of his life assuming he doesn’t surprise us and win a belt yet. He has won something that might be more important, though: The hearts of fans. Not many fighters can say that.
Abril, as quoted by BoxingScene.com: “We executed our game plan. We used our reach because we knew that we had the advantage in those categories. The decision, what can I say, it was an obvious disgrace. I won this fight by at least four or five rounds.”