David Lemieux is long removed from his golden prospect status, but there's still a warehouse full of TNT in him, and if he can just get his act together, he can be a contender to watch. For now, his most recent Knockout of the Year candidate is docked a few points for quality of competition, but as a reminder of what Lemieux can do, it is a nice advertisement.
There are no points to dock Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado. None. That final minute of the 5th round (Round of the Year candidate) looked like a video game version of boxing, with two teenage boys funneling their hormonal energy into mashing the button that makes them throw their MAXIMUM KNOCKOUT PUNCHES as fast as possible. It's the Fight of the Year so far, easily, but… other than that? We'll discuss the "other," as well as what's next for the two men, Nonito Donaire and more in this late-breaking edition of Weekend Afterthoughts.
- Rios-Alvarado standing. The leading Fight of the Year contender prior to this weekend was probably Victor Ortiz-Josesito Lopez for me, but there was no real obvious consensus. This is the one where consensus has coalesced. A lot of great fights have momentum swings or dramatic elements you don't find in other fights, but this one was just plain two-way action, no frills, with it being close on the cards — I had it even — going into the 7th, when Rios put Alvarado away with a stoppage that I don't find all that controversial. Was it more than the Fight of the Year, though? This article contends it's the best fight of the 21st century. I think that's getting far too carried away — it's top 10, probably, and thrilling stuff that I put heads above the rest of what we've gotten in 2012. Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo is still the best fight ever in my book, and Rios-Alvarado couldn't match its two-way action or its dramatic swings.
- Pound-for-pound vs. exciting. This debate is getting old. There should be no debate that pits skill against excitement. A lot of fans enjoyed Rios-Alvarado to say the least, and so did a lot of fans enjoy Andre Ward-Chad Dawson, and there is probably considerable overlap between those two groups of fans. I don't get the need of the two polar extremes to trash talk the other end. Just like what you like, and stop pretending that fights can only be one thing or the other. I, for one, have had Rios on my pound-for-pound list, and this fight validated that point of view; I also pointed out in my preview that Rios and Alvarado were skilled offensively, less so defensively. Sometimes exciting fighters are in boring fights, and sometimes fighters who are broadly skilled are in exciting fights. And my pound-for-pound list has plenty of stereotypically exciting fighters, like Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, Carl Froch, Abner Mares and Roman Gonzalez. Jay Caspian King has a great piece here suggesting that boxing need be boiled down "to its most pornographic state." There's room for the pornographic violence and sublime balletic violence both, and sometimes even in the same bout.
- Next for Rios. Obviously anyone would love to see RIos-Alvarado II, but Rios' promoter Bob Arum is talking about putting Rios in against Pacquiao. Fair enough. Rios couldn't possibly turn that payday down, and we know Rios would bring maximum effort, and he looked like a pretty powerful junior welterweight, so I can easily imagine him carrying some power up to welterweight enough to make him a credible opponent. Arum has never had much interest in Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather, and his company Top Rank seems to be souring on Timothy Bradley after his own fight against Pacquiao and some funny business about Bradley's December bout, and doesn't seem to see Bradley in the mix for another Pacquiao rematch, so Rios is as worthy as anyone else.
- Next for Alvarado. The Top Rank talk here is of Alvarado against Ruslan Provodnikov, which is another can't-miss fight. Alvarado elevated himself even in a loss — who wouldn't want to see his next fight? And Provodnikov matches up with him in that brawler style that is bound to produce fireworks. I'd favor Alvarado, but mostly I'd favor watching the thing.
- Next for Donaire and Toshiaki Nishioka. There's been more criticism of Donaire for not delivering an exciting fight, but unlike past times where the other guy was more to blame and Donaire could've done more to change the dynamic, I'm not at all sure what Donaire could've done differently. Nishioka barely did a thing for five rounds, only showing life after a 6th round knockdown, and Donaire didn't take his foot off the gas much, going for the stoppage in the 6th despite getting return fire and eventually stopping Nishioka in the 9th. Nishioka is talking about retiring, and acted in this fight like he was already retired before survival instinct or pride or something kicked in, but probably this should be the last stand at age 36 after an excellent career. Donaire is again talking about moving up in weight to 126 pounds if there are no challenges left for him at junior featherweight, but there are obvious challenges for him at 122, be they Guillermo Rigondeaux or the winner of Abner Mares-Anselmo Moreno, the second harder to do because both men are with Top Rank's hated rival Golden Boy. That bullshit is apparently never going to end.
- The Rest. Kudos to super middleweight Adonis Stevenson for a destructive performance against an ultra-tough opponent in Don George. Stevenson proved his merit stopping George in the 12th because George was so stubbornly resilient, and for the first half of the fight was reasonably competitive. The fight maybe could've been stopped sooner by George's corner, but he told them he'd never talk to them again if that happened. I like George's spirit but that's a dangerous mentality. His job is to fight until he can't and for his corner to protect him when he's too stubborn… I've yet to catch up to ShoBox (I was out of town all weekend), but it's now late Tuesday going on Wednesday in some parts of America, so I'll leave the rest of the weekend alone and leave you with Dan Rafael's scorecard.