In my opinion, the only thing better than a great fight is a great fight followed by a rematch or two. Every great fight is an epic adventure all by itself. But like any thrilling story, when it's all over, it's only natural to want to see another chapter.
And once world-class fighters gain some familiarity with each other in the first fight, as often as not the knowledge they pick up makes the next engagement all the more dramatic and hard-fought.
It's not that fans want to see the same old thing over and over again. But once you know you've got a good thing, you can't help but want more of it.
Nonito Donaire entered his fight against Guillermo Rigondeaux last April as a universally recognized pound-for-pound star. But the former Cuban amateur standout shocked much of the boxing world by winning with relative ease.
In some circles, the fight has been criticized as unexciting, but hardcore fans were transfixed. Rigondeaux used brilliant defensive movement to control space and angles and neutralized one of the best offensive fighters of this generation.
It might not have been thrilling like an amusement-park ride. But it was intriguing to anybody who understands some of the finer aspects of the sweet science.
At the same time, Donaire had his brief moment in Round 10, when he managed to connect with Rigondeaux and send him crashing to the canvas.
In a rematch, one has to assume that Donaire would look to get aggressive earlier in the fight. At the same time, now that the wizard-like Rigondeaux has had 12 rounds to study Donaire up close, he might handle "The Filipino Flash" even more easily in a rematch.
In August, Jhonny Gonzalez shocked the boxing world when he knocked out Abner Mares in the first round to capture the WBC featherweight title.
It wasn't quite the upset that some people made it out to be. Gonzalez was a former world champion and a veteran of more than 60 professional fights.
But Mares entered the fight undefeated and one of the hottest rising stars in the sport. In the past few years, he had won world titles in three divisions and beaten a laundry list of world-class opponents.
In his last fight prior to Gonzalez, Mares had captured the WBC belt by Round 10 TKO of Daniel Ponce De Leon, who had won the belt from Gonzalez.
Most boxing writers had Mares ranked in the pound-for-pound top 10. In the week before their fight, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told Boxing Scene that Mares deserved to be ranked No. 2, behind only Floyd Mayweather.
Gonzalez's win was surprising, but things like this happen in boxing. It was a great moment for a veteran warrior.
The rematch for this one is already signed for December. Fans will be anxious to see if Gonzalez can do it again.
In September 2012, Marcos Maidana beat Jesus Soto Karass by Round 8 TKO in a brutal, action-packed fight. Both fighters lost points for hitting on the break.
For Maidana, it was a great career boost. He followed up on it this year by stopping Josesito Lopez in six, and in December he will fight Adrien Broner for the WBA welterweight title.
For Soto Karass, it was the eighth loss of his career. It seemed to permanently mark him as nothing more than a tough journeyman.
But a tough journeyman who sticks around the scene can end up providing some terrific fights. And Soto Karass hasn't gone away since losing to Maidana. He has recommitted to his training and seems to have gotten better.
So far this year, he has beaten Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto. Those are the same two fighters whom Robert Guerrero beat in 2012 to earn his shot at Floyd Mayweather last May.
If Maidana takes the belt from Broner, Soto Karass will have a long line to stand behind before he gets a rematch against Maidana. But if Maidana loses, a rematch with Soto Karass makes a lot of sense. It would likely be another fan-friendly fight.
I'm not sure if any active boxer has been ripped off more often than Carlos Molina. Early in his career, he fought a pair of six-round bouts with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. In my opinion, Molina deserved to win both fights, but his record shows a loss and a draw.
I thought he deserved to win his draw with Erislandy Lara in March 2011 as well. But the worst injustice he has suffered came in March 2012, when he lost by disqualification to James Kirkland in a fight he was winning.
At the conclusion of Round 10, Kirkland muscled/threw Molina to the canvas. The bell rang as Molina tumbled to the deck.
Referee Jon Schorle ruled it a knockdown, which was questionable but not totally out of line. Still, Molina easily beat the count and did not appear even remotely shaken.
With time expired in the round, Molina's corner assumed it was over and began the normal process of entering the ring. In a moment that shocked everybody watching, including the HBO broadcast team, Schorle inexplicably DQ'd Molina.
This fight was in Texas and had screw job written all over it. Judge Gale E. Van Hoy even had Kirkland up on the cards, which was incomprehensible to me.
As can be seen in the attached video, even Kirkland's trainer, Ann Wolfe, told Molina: "You were winning."
Kirkland has been among the more exciting punchers during this century but also one of the most troubled fighters outside of the ring. He's faced legal problems throughout his career and earlier this summer was arrested for assault.
He hasn't fought since the "win" over Molina, but Fight Hype reported earlier this month that Kirkland is about to sign with rapper 50 Cent's promotion.
If he is returning to action, he owes Molina a rematch. And since Molina has since captured the IBF junior middleweight title, he'll probably be willing to give it to him.
On the September 14 Floyd Mayweather vs. Saul Alvarez pay-per-view, Danny Garcia successfully defended his WBC and WBA light welterweight titles against the red-hot Lucas Matthysse, nearly closing the Argentinian gunslinger's right eye in the process.
It was another stellar performance by the 25-year-old star, who came into the fight as a betting underdog. Matthysse brought in a 34-2 record with 32 KOs. Both his losses had been by hotly contested split decision, to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander. In both those losses, he had knocked his opponents down.
The win likely moved Garcia near the front of the line for a shot at Floyd Mayweather, so a rematch with Matthysse is unlikely to materialize in the immediate future.
Still, it was a very good fight, and a rematch would potentially be even better. With his right eye almost shut, Matthysse was particularly vulnerable to Garcia's left hook, which is his bread-and-butter punch.
That's not an excuse by any means. Matthysse's eye was shut because Garcia shut it. There's no controversy at all about who deserved to win.
But there's also no doubt that a rematch would be compelling, if the stars align for it.
In July 2012, Danny Garcia and Amir Khan faced off to unify their WBA and WBC light welterweight titles. Garcia entered the fight undefeated, but he was considered the underdog by most observers.
For the first two rounds of the fight, that underdog status looked like it might be justified, as Khan sprinted out to a quick lead. But in Round 3, Garcia caught up to Khan with his fabulous left hook, knocking the Brit to the canvas and rocking him badly.
Garcia finished Khan off by TKO in Round 4. For the otherwise extremely talented Khan, it was the second shocking knockout loss of his career.
As mentioned in the previous slide, Garcia's September 14 victory over Lucas Matthysse has shot his star up to near the top of the sport. At this point, he probably has bigger fights on the table than a rematch with a guy he stopped in four.
But Khan is only 26, and his hand speed and boxing skills are legitimate, even if he is a tad chinny. In all likelihood, he's not going anywhere, and he should line up again with the 25-year-old Garcia somewhere down the line.
Heading into the first Mike Alvarado vs. Brandon Rios fight last October, boxing fans were already salivating. Alvarado and Rios were both undefeated and two of the most exciting action fighters in the sport.
It looked like a sure-thing thriller, and that's exactly what it ended up being. Rios came away with a Round 7 TKO in a give-and-take war.
Alvarado was clearly rocked and was getting hit by unanswered punches when referee Pat Russell called off the fight. But he was also upright and relatively alert. Alvarado was respectful of the referee in the televised, post-fight interview but also clearly disappointed.
An immediate rematch was signed for March 30, 2013. This time Alvarado mixed in enough movement to outbox Rios in another exciting, all-action fight. Many fans consider it the best fight to occur so far this year.
Alvarado is scheduled to fight Ruslan Provodnikov in October, and Brandon Rios gets the opportunity of his career in November when he faces Manny Pacquiao.
But no matter what happens in those two fights, I am positive that an Alvarado vs. Rios rubber match is coming at some point in the future.
As of right now, Timothy Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov would be my choice for 2013 Fight of the Year. Last March, the two welterweights turned in an epic war, with Bradley escaping with a decision that he likely has little memory of.
This fight was so brutal that trainers Freddie Roach and Joel Diaz both threatened their fighters with throwing in the towel at separate points in the bout. In the first two rounds, Provodnikov had Bradley seemingly out on his feet.
But over the middle rounds, Bradley used his superior boxing skills to take control of the fight and build up a lead. He damaged Provodnikov's eye badly.
In Round 12, Provodnikov went for broke and nearly pulled it out. Bradley was knocked down and was lucky to survive to the final bell.
Bradley fights Juan Manuel Marquez in October, and if he wins, I think he'll probably fight a rematch with Manny Pacquiao next. But at some point, I have to believe he's going to meet Provodnikov again, too.
Timothy Bradley's split-decision victory over Manny Pacquiao in June 2012 is among the most controversial boxing decisions in recent years. I was at the Boxing Hall of Fame ceremony in Canastota, NY the next day to watch Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach get inducted.
On the parade route, fans shouted their condolences to Roach. I couldn't find a single fan who would concede giving Bradley more than three rounds.
Even rewatching the fight and being as generous as possible, I don't see anyway possible to give Bradley more than five rounds.
But amid the justifiable outrage, the fact that Bradley was fighting on two badly injured legs has been more or less completely ignored. Even with compromised mobility, he stifled Pacquiao's normally potent offense for much of the fight.
Pacquiao has to get by Brandon Rios in November, and Bradley has a fight with Juan Manuel Marquez in October. If both men win, I expect a rematch will happen next spring.
For Pacquiao's devoted fanbase, it will be an opportunity for redemption. But I'll be curious to see what Bradley can do the second time around if he has two good wheels.
So far in this century, Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez has been the greatest rivalry in boxing. But it's a rivalry that almost never got off the ground. In the first round of their first meeting in May 2004, "Pacman" blitzed Marquez, knocking him down three times in the opening round.
In a lot of states, the fight would have been stopped right there.
Instead, Marquez climbed his way back into the fight and gave Pacquiao a boxing lesson for much of the rest of the way, ultimately escaping with a draw.
Pacquiao won their first rematch in March 2008 by split decision, but many fans and writers felt Marquez deserved the victory. Pacquiao again prevailed in the third fight in November 2011—this time by majority decision.
Again, the verdict was controversial. As this BoxRec page documents, a majority of the boxing media had Marquez winning.
There was no controversy in their fourth meeting. Last December, Marquez caught Pacquiao with a right-hand counter for the ages, knocking him out cold at the end of Round 6.
But Pacquiao had been giving Marquez heck up until he got caught. On all three scorecards, he was winning three rounds to two and was clearly winning Round 6 up until he got knocked out.
A fifth fight between the two might be a long shot. For one thing, Marquez has a tough fight to get by with Timothy Bradley next month. And I don't think Pacquiao can be completely penciled in ahead of time against a hungry, aggressive fighter like Brandon Rios.
Even if they both win this fall, Marquez is 40 and may simply choose to retire. But doing so will mean leaving many millions of dollars on the table.
And for a certified accountant like Marquez, it somehow seems an unlikely move.