On December 3rd, six courageous fighters will return for an encore performance:
1. Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito
On July 26th, 2008, WBA Welterweight Champ Miguel Cotto defended his unblemished record and his world title against one of the more avoided fighters in boxing at the time, Antonio Margarito. In a back and forth slugfest, both men showcased their amazing heart and determination for eleven entertaining rounds.
Margarito charged forward throughout the entire bout while Cotto displayed impressive lateral movement and counterpunching ability. The TJ Tornado was decisively losing the first half of the scheduled 12 round contest, but came on in the mid to late rounds to hurt and eventually stop the WBA Champ at the 2:05 mark of the dramatic 11th round.
Once heralded as a brilliant performance by Antonio Margarito, the first boxing match has now been riddled with controversy due to his attempted use of loaded hand wraps before his fight with Sugar Shane Mosley, further creating drama leading into their highly anticipated and long overdue rematch.
2. Abner Mares vs. Joseph Agbeko
On August 13th, 2011, two of boxing's best 118 pound fighters met in the ring to decide the winner of Showtime's Bantamweight mini tournament. Joseph Agbeko from Ghana was also defending his IBF Championship title against Golden Boy Promotions' Abner Mares, the WBC Bantamweight Silver Champion.
In what was a very important bout for both men, most boxing scribes viewed this Championship contest of little men as somewhat of a "rite of passage" into not only a potential fight with pound for pound fighter Nonito Donaire, but also a big step towards boxing stardom.
Both men put forth terrific performances worthy of global recognition, but unfortunately their accomplishments in the ring that night were overshadowed by the numerous mental lapses of referee Russell Mora.
The third man in the ring missed about 20 low blows and incorrectly scored a knock down in the eleventh round for Mares, which should have been cited as a low blow and a possible point deduction from the point total of the young Hispanic fighter. The botched call created a four point swing on the judges' scorecards, virtually making a decision for Agbeko mathematically impossible.
Abner Mares won a majority decision with the official scorecards reading 115-111 twice and 113-113.
3. Delvin Rodriguez vs. Pawel Wolak
The first boxing match between these two contenders proved to be the perfect storm on July 15th, 2011. It was a beautiful fight which fused technical savvy with consistent brutality for ten rounds on ESPN's Friday Night Fights.
Wolak was the hungry aggressor, charging relentlessly against the always formidable and hard punching Delvin Rodriguez. The entire boxing match took place in a virtual phone booth and was filled with non-stop, breathtaking action.
During the sixth round of the highly competitive bout, ringside observers began to notice massive swelling around the eye of Pawel Wolak. It kept growing and growing until it finally resembled an Easter egg, which admittedly hindered the vision of the Polish-American fighter.
The fight was allowed to continue; and after all was said and done, the Fight of the Year candidate was officially scored a majority draw with one of the judges scoring the bout 97-93 in favor of Delvin Rodriguez.
Remarkably, referee Steve Smoger only had to separate both combatants one time throughout the entire 10 round slugfest.
There was no premature stoppage, no overly officious referee, and no robbery at the hands of the judges...God finally smiled upon the sport of boxing on that warm summer evening in Manhattan.
Will the three scheduled return bouts be as exciting or as dramatic as the initial squabbles?
History tells us that they more than likely won't. Quite often when a fan friendly scrap results in a rematch, seldom does part II live up to the created hype.
Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward II
The first between these two regional heroes was proclaimed by most as not only the fight of the year for 2002, but one of the greatest fights in the history of the boxing. There were no titles on the line in this ten round slugfest, just boxing pride and glory.
Although the rematch was very entertaining, it ultimately fell short of expectations and turned into a decisive victory for boxing's "blood and guts warrior" via a strategic chess match. Both men seemed much more reluctant to duke it out the second time around, with the two fighters anticipating their opponent's offensive attacks. It was uncharacteristically docile compared to some of their previous respective performances, but was worthy of note and eventually led to a classic ending and one of boxing's all time great trilogies.
Erik Morales vs. Marco Antonio Barrera II
The first meeting in 2000 was a unification bout and was one of the most important fights in the history of the sport, because it opened the door for the smaller sized fighters to appear on the biggest stages of boxing. Morales/Barrera I was a violent affair which captured the imagination of the entire boxing universe and started off the new millennium with a bang.
Unfortunately, like Gatti/Ward II, the rematch between the two Mexican legends featured more boxing and less brawling. Both men looked considerably less eager to exchange with the same brutal savagery. Again, the second fight was entertaining, but failed in comparison to the all time great slugfest which preceded the highly anticipated sequel.
The boxing match, which took place on June 22nd, 2002, resulted in a controversial but unanimous decision victory for Marco Antonio Barrera, despite being floored in the 7th round by a beautifully timed body shot. Erik Morales was viewed by most ringside observers to have landed the harder and more effective shots throughout the entire fight.
The two fighters would meet again in an historic rubber match held in November of 2004.
Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo II
In what is arguably considered to be the greatest fight in the modern era of boxing, Corrales/Castillo I was a beautifully dramatic and brutal unification bout in the lightweight division. Champion versus Champion, and warrior versus warrior, the two brave combatants gave it their all to the point of ruin in May of 2005.
A rematch between both men took place on October 8th, 2005, but was nearly cancelled due to the challenger, Jose Luis Castillo, weighing in 3 ½ pounds over the lightweight division limit. Because Castillo could not make fight weight, the highly anticipated return bout was declared a non-title contest.
Both men picked up where they left off and delivered beautiful boxing for three plus rounds. Unfortunately for the unified Lightweight Champion, he was knocked out by the much bigger Castillo in the beginning of the fourth round with a perfect left hook to the jaw.
For the short time that it lasted, the action was tremendous. But, the controversial weigh-in took away some of the fight's luster and was considered by many to be a very unfair and unsportsmanlike gesture on the part of the challenger. It was a very anti-climactic ending to an otherwise terrific pairing.
Sometimes, on rare occasions, boxers match or outdo their first effort and capture the imagination of the boxing universe once again.
Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Carmen Basilio II
In a classic battle between two of the greatest pound for pound fighters of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson originally fought Carmen Basilio for the World Middleweight Championship at Yankee Stadium in 1957. In Ring Magazine's Fight of the Year, both men showed the perfect combination of technical brilliance, world class heart, and fierce determination for 15 time capsule rounds.
After losing the first contest via split decision, Sugar Ray challenged the "Upstate Onion Farmer" for his World Middleweight title in Chicago, Illinois, in March of 1958. Six months removed from their first war, both men picked up where they left off and dazzled the boxing world once again.
In a nip-and-tuck battle, the first half of the fight was very close with many hard to score rounds. Unfortunately for the reigning champion, Basilio's vision was impaired due to the accurate jab of Sugar Ray so he couldn't fight at a safe distance, which turned the fight into an intriguing slugfest on the inside.
Both men took a beating with hard leather thrown to the body and head. Ultimately, the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson gutted out a very hard fought scrap and won the World Middleweight Championship with a split decision.
The sequel, just like its predecessor, won Fight of the Year honors from Ring Magazine for the year 1958.
Bobby Chacon vs. Cornelius Boza-Edwards II
In a brilliant fight for the Ugandan warrior's WBC Super Featherweight title back in May of 1981, these two little big men went to war for thirteen solid rounds. With breathtaking, non-stop action, both fighters showcased their talents in a war of attrition. Unfortunately for the challenger, Chacon failed to answer the 14th round and lost his title shot via TKO.
In 1983, the two battlers met again, but this time it was for Chacon's WBC Super Featherweight title which he won by defeating Rafael Limon in 1982. The terrific 12 round contest, which took place at Ceasars Palace in Las Vegas, NV, displayed many exciting ebbs and flows within the action. Bobby Chacon overcame a knockdown in the opening round and a nasty cut over his eye to retain his title.
Chacon floored Boza-Edwards in the dramatic twelfth and final round to win a close but unanimous decision. The spectacular war of attrition was recognized as Ring Magazine's Fight of the Year for 1983.
Chris Eubank vs. Michael Watson II
In June of 1991, WBO Middleweight Champion Chris Eubank defended his world title against tough British fighter Michael Watson in what became known as one of the most controversial decisions in the history of British boxing.
In a very skillful but brutal back and forth fight, Chris Eubank retained his title by winning a majority decision. Because it was such a competitive bout and most critics felt the challenger did enough to deserve the victory, a second match was made just three months after the heavily debated title scrap.
In September of 1991, the two London-born fighters met in the ring to decide once and for all who truly deserved to be called the legitimate WBO World Champion. Both men came out fighting to stake their claim for title supremacy and put on a classic performance.
Like its predecessor, the highly competitive scrap had great ebb and flow action, which was technically brilliant yet viciously entertaining. But, nothing could prepare those in attendance for the dramatic ending of this brilliant but tragic contest.
Going into the final two rounds, all three judges had the brave Michael Watson winning the fight by a healthy margin. But due to the controversial decision given to Eubank after their previous meeting, Watson aggressively pursued the Champion and started exchanging heavy shots.
Exhausted and dehydrated, the challenger wobbled Eubank with a perfect right cross and followed up with a sharp right hook to floor the WBO champ. Seconds after getting up off of the canvas, Eubank sent a crushing uppercut to the chin of the challenger and sent him flying into the ropes.
The brave Watson made it out of the round, but was out on his feet. The challenger's corner tragically sent their fighter out to receive more unanswered punishment. The referee finally stepped in and stopped the contest, but not until permanent damage had been done to the challenger.
Chris Eubank retained his title via TKO in the twelfth, but poor Michael Watson was never the same. The courageous London-born pugilist slipped into a coma for 40 days and required 6 different surgeries to remove a blood clot from his brain.
Watson never fought again and suffered permanent nerve damage and partial paralysis.
The dramatic championship rematch is still considered to be one of the greatest bouts in the history of British boxing.
While everyone enjoys all of the great fights that take place this weekend, consider the lineage of warriors who fought long before there was ever a Miguel Cotto or Tony Margarito.
Because of their selfless bravery, heart, and courage, we are still able to witness the greatest sport on the planet.