Action heroes are special. There are precious few of them in any generation. We like to pretend that every fight was an event, but mostly they are like any other fighter except for a few great nights.
Mickey Ward was in his share of dreck fights. So was Arturo Gatti.
We aren’t supposed to say that. We’re supposed to revere them. And we do. But maybe we put too much pressure on them. Gatti-Ward happened. We didn’t demand it. It just happened.
Francisco Vargas has been in back to back fight of the year battles. Are we to expect that every time out?
But that’s a brutal expectation. Can’t an honest prizefighter just do his job to the best of his abilities without us needing to assign some value to it?
This is boxing, and we want gods, not men.
Francisco Vargas (23-1-2, 17 KO) wasn’t betrayed by lack of skill, or determination against Miguel Berchelt (31-1, 28 KO). He just got old in front of our eyes. He was faced with a younger, fresher, more determined challenger, and his body gave out.
You could argue that had Vargas not been betrayed by the scar tissue around his eyes, he’d have won, but that misses the point. Berchelt forced the stoppage. He did the damage when it counted. That’s all that matters, and for 11 rounds; they gave us one hell of a fight.
In the co-feature, Takashi Miura (31-3-2, 24 KO) stopped Miguel Roman (56-12, 43 KO) in a slugfest. Roman will never be a world-class fighter, and Miura is just barely that, but the carnage they served up is worthy of admiration, and it was absolutely thrilling. I’m not sure that Miura can be in a bad fight and he’s so goddamn tough that anyone who shares the ring with him will catch unshirted hell. The right cross he knocked Roman out with was a thing of beauty.
(INDIO, CALIF. — Miguel Berchelt lands a right cross on Francisco Vargas during their junior lightweight fight; Photo: Ed Mulholland via HBO)