The Boxing Rematches That Failed To Deliver
Sometimes the highly anticipated sequel lives up to the hype. Sometimes they don’t.
We’re about to see the hardest hitting boxer in history meet the hardest man to hit in the heavyweight division for the second time. Both men should have won the last fight and either could win the next. Anticipation for Wilder vs Fury II is astronomical.
But as much as we look forward to a classic, there's every chance that we get a plodding result that satisfies no-one. The adjustments fighters make between bouts can nullify all of the action of the first meet.
Obviously Marcos Maidana didn’t beat Floyd Mayweather the first time they fought in May of 2014, but boy he came close. He landed more shots on the best defensive boxer in recent memory than any other fighter in his career.
Where most had expected Mayweather to waltz past Maidana with his usual slick aplomb, instead the Argentinian dragged Floyd into a war. Mayweather still walked away with a majority decision, but it was enough to book Maidana a rematch just four months later.
Many of the millions who bought Floyd Mayweather pay per views did so to see him beaten, and in Marcos Maidana, they believed they had found someone who could do just that. All he needed was to build on the strong start he’d shown in the first fight.
Yes, just like you said. I have twelve more rounds to finish the job. That's what I'm here for. I'm here to win. I'm well prepared and (Floyd) Mayweather isn't what everybody thinks he is.
But where Floyd had been surprised by Maidana’s aggression the first time, in the rematch he was prepared. He danced around his opponent, putting on the kind of defensive masterclass everyone had expected last time.
Maidana was both less aggressive and less accurate. In the first fight, he’d landed more than a quarter of his 858 punches. In the second fight, he managed less than a quarter of his 572.
The judges gave Mayweather a deserved unanimous decision, Marcos Maidana was relegated to boxing’s second-tier again, and fans were left to be disappointed by Mayweather fights for years to come.
When Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin first met in 2017, Golovkin was an undefeated, three belt champion looking to break Bernard Hopkins’ title defence record. Canelo Alvarez was the Ring and lineal champ and the other most popular fighter in the division.
The winner was destined to be named the best middleweight in the world and become one of the biggest boxing celebrities since Floyd Mayweather. It was a flying cow of high stakes. The problem was that, after 12 tense, hotly contested rounds, there was no winner. Despite many calling the fight for Golovkin, the fight was called a split draw. Triple G was pissed.
This is terrible for the sport, for boxing. I'm a champion. This is the biggest fight for boxing. If these judges like today, this is terrible. Unbelievable. Unbelievable.
Alvarez eating some steroid-filled beef put the rematch on hold for a year. By the time the event rolled around Golovkin had been stripped of one of his titles. But otherwise, it was essentially round 13 of the same fight.
After another twelve more rounds it was still hard to pick. Alvarez had been more aggressive, but the majority of viewers had either scored it to Golovkin or given yet another draw. The judges, however, managed to hand Canelo a majority decision by a single round. Whether you think he deserved it or not, no-one could argue that we never definitively found out which man was the better boxer.
But the win has so far been enough for Canelo to move on and ignore any attempts by Golovkin to get a third go-round.
And how can we not finish with2019’s rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr?
Their first meeting had been one of the most exciting clashes in recent memory.
It had everything, a slick champion, an overlooked underdog with an unassuming physique, both fighters hitting the canvas in the third round, the champ’s desperate attempt to stay in the fight - and finally, the last-minute challenger taking the belts in shocking fashion.
The rematch had more question marks than a Riddler costume. Was Anthony Joshua overrated? Could Andy Ruiz be the best boxer in the heavyweight division? Would we discover that Snickers bars were performance-enhancing?
The setting was Diriyah, Saudi Arabia - a custom-built stadium for fifteen thousand fans. And there, under the bright Saudi lights, Anthony Joshua answered all of those questions with an emphatic no.
Ruiz had ruined the spectacle by turning up unprepared, while Joshua was content to keep the shorter man at range and box him up from distance. It was like watching AJ do his taxes - safe, necessary and dull.
The anticipation for Wilder vs Fury II is huge and you’d have to be dead to not be excited by the fight’s potential. But it would be best to savour the feeling now, there’s a chance this may be as good as it gets.