HBO Boxing Insiders Year End Picks: Fight of the Year

Photo Credit: Will Hart

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. Next up, Fight of the Year.

Previously: Fighter of the YearBreakthrough HBO FighterBest BlowBest HBO Boxing MomentsTrainer of the YearRound of the Year, KO of the Year

Kieran Mulvaney: Timothy Bradley W12 Ruslan Provodnikov

In a terrific 12 months of boxing, March produced the two best fights of all. In pretty much any other year, the Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios rematch would likely have taken this prize (just as the first clash between the pair would have won the same award in 2012 were it not for Juan Manuel Marquez knocking out Manny Pacquiao), but the gold medal goes to Bradley's desperately hard-fought win over Provodnikov, in which the Amercian survived being nearly knocked out by the Russian at the very beginning and the very end, but did enough in between to eke out a thrilling win.

Eric Raskin: Timothy Bradley W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov

If I'm going purely on sustained action, Alvarado-Rios II edges this out. But there was something special about the drama of Bradley-Provodnikov, an edge-of-your-seat factor that Alvarado-Rios II lacked. Bradley showed bigger stones than any other fighter had to in 2013, fighting the last 11 rounds in a fog and surviving a 12th-round onslaught from the animalistic Provodnikov that called to mind the thrills of 2012's incredible finish to Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Nat Gottlieb: Timothy Bradley W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov

This was a thriller from start to finish, a crowd-pleasing slugfest with dramatic moments galore. Provodnikov came forward all night, and Bradley didn't back down.  Provodnikov added extra drama in the 12th round by knocking Bradley to the canvas, but the Russian couldn't finish him off. Bradley got the close UD win.

Tim Smith: James Kirkland TKO 6 Glen Tapia

You knew Kirkland-Tapia was going to be fireworks from start to finish and it wasn't going to go the distance. Tapia, a New Jersey resident, was seeking to become the new Arturo Gatti -- the all-action king of Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Kirkland is the embodiment of Gatti's blood and guts spirit. It was one of the few times that a match more than lived up to its billing.

Hamilton Nolan: Guillermo Rigondeaux W12 Nonito Donaire

This certainly won't be a popular pick. It didn't feature a great deal of bloodshed, or staggering fighters winging blows while barely clinging to life. What it did feature was a highly respected but (professionally) untested challenger, Rigondeaux, absolutely dominating every aspect of the fight against Donaire, who had been touted as one of the three best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Rigondeaux proved that master boxing skills can beat athleticism and punching power. Rigondeaux, in fact, is the one who is among the best pound for pound fighters in the world. Anyone who finds his style "boring" is not a fan of boxing.

Michael Gluckstadt: Timothy Bradley W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov

You want backstory? Tim Bradley was coming off one of the most depressing "victories" in the sport; Ruslan Provodnikov, "The Siberian Rocky," has one of the most remarkable backgrounds of any athlete. You want action? From the opening bell Bradley decided to engage and Provodnikov was only too happy to oblige. You want drama? The results of the fight were in doubt until the very last second, with Provodnikov gunning for the KO. This was a fight that had it all.

Before 2014, the Best of 2013

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credit: Will Hart

Households across the country have had the opportunity to exchange gifts and wear garish sweaters. But for boxing fans, the most wonderful time of the year presents a special challenge. Granted, you're grateful for that tie, and who doesn't need more socks, but where's the sanctioned, televised violence? Sure, Uncle Ernie and Cousin Jerome might square up after too much eggnog, but it's hardly the same, is it? And it may very well be a wonderful life, but I think we can all agree that James Stewart is no Ruslan Provodnikov.

Never fear, HBO Boxing is here. To help bridge the gap until our first live fight card of 2014 on January 18, we're bringing you the best of 2013. If you missed any of these 10 fights the first time around, you can watch them now on HBO.com:

Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler II

Three years after Kessler scored a narrow decision win over Froch in his native Denmark, the Englishman extended an invite for a rematch in London, and the result was another 12 rounds of first-rate action.

Round to Watch: In round 5, Kessler landed a hard left-right combination that buckled Froch, only for the Brit to shake it off and take it to the Dane for the rest of the round.

 

Sergey Kovalev vs. Nathan Cleverly

Kovalev's reputation as a fearsome puncher preceded his HBO debut against Cleverly, and it was only enhanced after he blew away Cleverly and took his light-heavyweight belt in the process.

Round to Watch: Although it wasn't the final frame of the contest, round 3 was the one in which the fight was effectively knocked out of the Welshman, courtesy of a pair of heavy knockdowns.

 

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Ruslan Provodnikov

Bradley's first outing since his highly controversial 2013 win over Manny Pacquiao was nearly a disastrous one, as he (and the world) was introduced to the relentless punching power of Siberia's Provodnikov.

Round to Watch: Round 12 was the most dramatic final three minutes of professional prizefighting since Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. nearly pulled victory from the jaws of defeat against Sergio Martinez last fall.

 

Miguel Cotto vs. Delvin Rodriguez

Fan favorite Cotto returned to HBO after back-to-back losses in 2013, and rebounded in style, with arguably his most emphatic victory in years.

Round to Watch: Officially, the contest ended in the second, but it was all but over before that, as Cotto came bouncing out of his corner on his toes and spent the first three minutes tearing into Rodriguez with his long-vaunted but much-missed left hook.

 

Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II

In a rematch of their hellacious first encounter, Rios and Alvarado once again thrilled fans with a bruising battle in which neither man gave any quarter, both ended the night battered, but only one man was beaten.

Round to Watch: Just try and watch the second round without your jaw dropping. Go ahead. Try it.

 

Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin

After rolling to two stoppage wins on HBO, Golovkin took on the sternest challenge of his professional career in the form of former title challenger Macklin. The aftermath saw a lot more passengers clambering aboard the Golovkin bandwagon.

Round to Watch: The third-round ending is a study in violent artistry, as Golovkin maneuvers Macklin into position before dropping the hammer blow.

 

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez

Bradley's reward for escaping Provodnikov was a pay-per-view bout against Mexican veteran Marquez, and the result was two men putting on one of the year's best displays of skilful boxing-punching.

Round to Watch: For the second Bradley fight in the row, the final round had the most drama, the result of the contest seemingly hinging on the final three minutes – and even the very last punch of the fight.

 

Adonis Stevenson vs. Chad Dawson

Dawson was returning to light-heavyweight after an unsuccessful attempt to wrest the super-middleweight crown from Andre Ward. Few had heard of Stevenson before the opening bell; it only took 79 seconds for that to change dramatically.

Round to Watch: Let's put it this way. Once the fight begins, try not to go to the bathroom or the kitchen, or even to sneeze.

 

Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios

Eleven months after the sudden and disastrous end to his fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao returned to action against Rios, in the first pay-per-view boxing card to be broadcast from China.

Round to Watch: Bit by bit, round by round, Pacquiao's speed proved too much for Rios; the final frame, when Rios made one last effort to turn the tide, was the best of the bunch.

 

James Kirkland vs. Glen Tapia

There are boxing bouts, and there are fights. This was a fight.

Round to Watch: All of them. Seriously. All of them.

 

HBO Boxing Insiders Year End Picks: HBO Round of the Year

Photo Credit: Will Hart

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. Next up, HBO Round of the Year.

Previously: Fighter of the Year, Breakthrough HBO Fighter, Best Blow, Best HBO Boxing Moments, Trainer of the Year

Kieran Mulvaney: Darren Barker vs. Daniel Geale, Round 6

When a fighter crumples to the canvas from a body shot, he normally stays there. It isn't a question of having his senses scrambled; it's more that every last molecule of oxygen and vestige of energy has escaped through his pores, to be replaced by a paralyzing agent that renders movement impossible. Yet somehow, when Barker dropped to the floor against Geale, he found a way to will himself to his feet; amazingly, after withstanding Geale's efforts to finish him, he actually turned the tide and by the end of the round was the one battering his opponent.

Eric Raskin: Timothy Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov, Round 12

Rounds two and six of this fight were also in contention, as were half the rounds in Alvarado-Rios 2, but the "will he or won't we?" intrigue over Provodnikov's pursuit of a needed knockout in the frenetic final round separates these three minutes from the other candidates.

Nat Gottlieb: James Kirkland vs. Glen Tapia, Round 2

Not having fought in 20 months, Kirkland took on the undefeated but unproven Tapia and changed the course of a brutal fight when he landed a ferocious straight left with about 1:10 to go in the round that clearly hurt Tapia. From then on, Tapia fought purely on courage, but after that round, the end was inevitable.

Tim Smith: James Kirkland vs. Glen Tapia, Round 1

The first round of Kirkland-Tapia was the kind of opening salvo you would have expected in a match of this type. Neither gave an inch and they traded punches like kids swapping baseball cards. It set the stage for a back and forth battle of attrition that you know would leave only one man standing.

Hamilton Nolan: Timothy Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov, Round 12

The fact that Tim Bradley stayed awake and on his feet for 12 rounds with Provodnikov is the year's best survival story. The fact that he won is icing on a most delicious cake. Here's to you, Tim Bradley. Never try to slug like that again, you psycho.

Michael Gluckstadt: Darren Barker vs. Daniel Geale, Round 6

A good measure for picking round of the year is how closely it resembles Round 9 of the first Gatti-Ward fight. When Barker mashed his face against the canvas in anguish after being felled by a left to his liver, it did not look like he was getting up. And when he did get up and couldn't throw a punch for 30 seconds, it didn't look like he would get out of the round. But Barker willed himself back into the fight and finished the round strongly en route to a split decision victory.

HBO Boxing Insiders Year End Picks: Best HBO Boxing Moments

Photo Credit: Will Hart

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. Next up, the best HBO Boxing moments of 2013.

Previously: Fighter of the Year, Breakthrough HBO Fighter, Best Blow

Kieran Mulvaney:

In a year full of great moments, three in particular come to mind. One was interviewing boxers during the promo shoot for HBO's Epic Fall of Boxing, highlighted by the contrast between discussing Russian poetry with Ruslan Provodnikov one minute, and then hearing his screams of "Champ-ee-on" echo through the studio stage as he posed beneath an artificial waterfall the next. The others come from Macau: finding ourselves hopelessly lost on a day out, only to be rescued by a bar owner who saw the credential hanging round HBO photographer Will Hart's neck and walked up to us shouting, "Hey! Manny Pacquiao"; and sitting in the arena at 10AM on a Sunday morning, taking in the scene as 12,000 people packed the venue and screamed themselves hoarse at what was the first -- but surely not the last -- big boxing pay-per-view on Chinese soil.

Eric Raskin:

Tim Bradley's raw comments during Face Off With Max Kellerman:

Bradley talking openly about the aftereffects of his fight with Provodnikov as he sat across the table from Juan Manuel Marquez, admitting to a concussion and two months of slurred speech, was one of the more harrowing, gripping, honest moments of TV I saw all year.

Arturo Gatti's daughter reading his Hall of Fame plaque:

If you didn't well up at least a little bit during the final minutes of the Legendary Nights doc on the Gatti-Micky Ward trilogy, then you might want to check yourself for a pulse.

Darren Barker getting off the canvas after Daniel Geale's sixth-round bodyshot:

Referee Eddie Cotton's count was at about 9 and 99/100ths. It's remarkable that Barker not only got up, but rallied back and won the fight.

Nat Gottlieb:

So many great moments. Tough to choose. I loved virtually every episode of the 24/7 series. Choose between them? Not me. I vote the entirety of the 24/7 series as my favorite "moments" of the year.

Tim Smith:

During the Face-Off between Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios, Max Kellerman asked Rios if he thought he was being insulted by Pacquiao selecting him as an opponent that he could look exciting against and whom he could beat up. As Rios answered the question, boasting about what he could do against Pacman, Pacquiao had a smirking smile on his face. It was as if he knew he was going to beat the stuffing out of Rios and look good doing it.

Hamilton Nolan:

"Gabriel is… good boy." - Gennady Golovkin, after nearly murdering Gabriel Rosado.

My least favorite moments of the year were the fights that did not get stopped when they should have, including Abdusalamov and Tapia.

Michael Gluckstadt:

Ruslan Provodnikov's mom, a Russian nesting doll come to life, joining her just-crowned champion son in the ring, brings a smile to my face whenever I think about it.

In 24/7 Bradley/Marquez, Juan Manuel Marquez broke down the footage of his KO of Manny Pacquiao, describing the feint he had been waiting for all night to unleash a vicious counterpunch, and removing any doubt that what he had landed could be considered a lucky punch.

Sitting in the driving rain in Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I was unsure if Sergio Martinez's fight against Martin Murray was about to take place or not. Once it did, I'll never forget clearing a path through a mass of humanity (and no security), before celebrating a job done remarkably well with the HBO production team.

HBO Boxing Insiders Year End Picks: Breakthrough HBO Fighter

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. Next up, Breakthrough HBO Fighter.

Previously: Fighter of the Year.

Kieran Mulvaney: Adonis Stevenson

It's tempting to nominate Gennady Golovkin, who only made his HBO debut last year and is now widely regarded as being, at worst, on the fringe of many pound-for-pound lists. But I'm going with Stevenson, who exploded onto HBO with a first-round obliteration of Chad Dawson (followed by a 5-mile sprint around the ring) and hasn't looked back. Honorable mentions to Sergey Kovalev and Ruslan Provodnikov.

Eric Raskin: Ruslan Provodnikov

There were so many excellent candidates for this one, and I might have given it to Adonis Stevenson if I hadn't already named him my Fighter of the Year. Instead, in a narrow decision over Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and Mikey Garcia, I'm picking Provodnikov because of the leap he made relative to my expectations coming into the year. I assumed he was an ESPN2-level boxer, little more than a clubfighter. By nearly defeating Tim Bradley and then forcing a surrender out of Mike Alvarado, the all-action Provodnikov proved me all sorts of wrong.

Nat Gottlieb: Gennady Golovkin

I give it to Golovkin over Stevenson because people already knew about Stevenson coming into this year. Golovkin was largely unknown stateside until this year when he exploded onto the boxing scene by knocking out all four of his opponents in breathtaking fashion. The future is limitless with this guy. The problem is finding opponents for him.

Tim Smith: Adonis Stevenson

Adonis Stevenson is soaring in rarified air. It is not often that a fighter can take over a single division with the kind of concussive force that Stevenson displayed in 2013. Doing it the hard way, starting with the best lightweight heavyweight in the sport, Chad Dawson, Stevenson smashed his way through the division. He won all three of his 2013 matches by knockout. Now he stands as the best light heavyweight champion in the game, setting up an explosive 2014. 

Hamilton Nolan: Adonis Stevenson

He knocked off the champ, and knocked out the challengers, and covered the most distance of any fighter in terms of vaulting from relative unknown status to solidified champion status. He should beat Kovalev, but it'll be close.

Michael Gluckstadt: Adonis Stevenson

"Superman" came in to his bout against Chad Dawson as a 7-1 underdog. It'd have been one thing to eke out a win over the lineal light heavyweight champion, but knocking him out before the first round was even out? That was truly shocking. And he followed it up with two impressive defenses, showing that his signature victory was no fluke.

HBO Boxing's Best For 2013

Gennady Golovkin, Matthew Macklin - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

The schedule is set for HBO Boxing's Best for 2013. 

Over the course of five consecutive nights in December, HBO2 will present 10 of the year's biggest fights, featuring the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Timother Bradley Jr., Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, and more.

The Best Of series kicks off on Monday, December 23 at 11:00 PM ET/PT, with a back-to-back feature of Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler II and Sergey Kovalev vs. Nathan Cleverly. 

Revisit the most memorable fights of 2013 with the full schedule below.

(Winners names in italics)

 

Monday, December 23 at 11:00 p.m.

Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler II

Sergey Kovalev vs. Nathan Cleverly

Tuesday, December 24 at 11:00 p.m.

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Ruslan Provodnikov

Miguel Cotto vs. Delvin Rodriguez

Wednesday, December 25 at 11:00 p.m.

Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II

Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin

Thursday, December 26 at 11:00 p.m.

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez

Adonis Stevenson vs. Chad Dawson

Friday, December 27 at 11:00 p.m.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios

James Kirkland vs. Glen Tapia

 

Which fight was your favorite? Let us know in the comments or at @HBOBoxing on Twitter.

 

Peer Predictions: Fighters Past and Present Pick Pacquiao-Rios

by Kieran Mulvaney

Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios - Photo Credit: Will Hart

All kinds of prognosticators are weighing in on this week's fight between Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios. Many say that Pacquiao, the favorite, possesses a skill set that will simply outclass Rios. Others counter that Rios was built to absorb punishment, and that Pacquiao may still be haunted by the crushing punch that knocked him out against Juan Manuel Marquez last December.

But what do the real experts think? Here's how a selection of past and present fighters see the bout shaping up.

Terence Crawford (lightweight contender):

I've got to go with Pacquiao. Because Rios, he's going to take a lot of punishment coming in.

 

 

 

 

Ruslan Provodnikov (junior welterweight title holder):

To be honest with you, strategically, politically, it would be good for me if Brandon Rios won the fight. But I'm going to be rooting for Manny Pacquiao. I spent two months with him in training camp. We're very close. He's a great, great person, and I think that he will come back after his last fight, and he has still has a good amount of time left.

 

 

Mike Alvarado (junior welterweight contender, Rios opponent):

That's a really good fight. Rios is going to push Pacquiao. He's going to make him adjust. I want Rios to win that fight, so when our trilogy happens it's like, "Hey, he just beat Pacquiao." But I don't know. I don't think he's going to beat Pacquiao. I laid out the blueprint for how to beat Rios. Pacquiao's going to be like, "I can box, I can move, I hit hard." But then again, we're waiting to see how Pacquiao recovers after losing to Marquez. That was a punishing blow; it might have a big effect on his career. We'll see.

 

Nonito Donaire (featherweight contender and former three-weight title holder):

If Pacquiao can return to a Pacquiao with focus, he'll overwhelm Rios with power and speed. But if he goes in with a shadow of a doubt in his mind after what happened to him in his previous fight, then Rios can overwhelm him with intensity and pressure. But I think that Pacquiao has the best chance of winning this fight, if he even gets just 50 percent of his focus back.

 

George Foreman (former two-time heavyweight champion):

I think it's going to be a 12-round decision and I give Pacquiao the hometown decision.  How about a home-region decision.

 

 

 

 

Sugar Ray Leonard (former five-weight world champion):

I think Pacquiao will win although I give Rios a shot, a big shot.  It's not going to be an easy fight.  I'm picking Manny because he is Manny Pacquiao.

 

 

 

 

Timothy Bradley (welterweight title holder): 

I've got Manny Pacquiao by a mid to late round KO.  Eight rounds.

 

 

 

 

 

Marco Antonio Barrera (former three-weight title holder):

I think it is a complicated fight for both of them.  You have Brandon Rios who comes straightforward and will apply the pressure on Manny.  Then you have Manny who moves around the ring very well and picks and chooses his spots and comes at different angles and is a very strong fighter with a lot of speed.  It's just going to be a tough fight for both of them.

Provodnikov Breaks Alvarado and the Hearts of a Hometown Crowd

by Kieran Mulvaney

Ref Tony Weeks, Ruslan Provodnikov - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Before Saturday night, Mike Alvarado and Ruslan Provodnikov had staked rival claims to the Fight of the Year. But now they have joint ownership in a new contender for that honor, following a battle that was every bit as absorbing, skillful and downright brutal as had been predicted, and which ended when Alvarado, no longer able to resist the Russian's relentless aggression, yielded in his corner at the end of the tenth round. With the victory, Provodnikov has a junior welterweight belt and a world of possibilities.

When we last saw Provodnikov (23-2 with 16 KOs), in mid-March, he nearly knocked out Timothy Bradley on more than one occasion before falling short in a points decision. Two weeks later, Alvarado (34-2, 23 KOs) boxed and fought his way to a revenge victory over Brandon Rios, who had issued him his first professional defeat the previous October. Both fights had been compelling, but given these two fighters' styles and commitment to combat, there was genuine optimism that this meeting could match them both. And with the very first action of the very first round, it began to live up to that billing.

Read the Complete Mike Alvarado vs. Ruslan Provodnikov Fight Recap on HBO.com.

Fans Weigh In: It's Gonna Be a Brawl

Boxing fans from across the country offer their insight and analysis as we head into Saturday's slugfest.

 

 

Mickey Ward Recounts Iconic Trilogy

by Hamilton Nolan

Gatti Trainer Buddy McGirt, Mickey Ward, and Michael Strahan - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

Micky Ward is an exceptionally soft-spoken man for someone whose fame was earned through punching and bleeding. After a screening this week of 'Legendary Nights: The Tale of Gatti-Ward,' a documentary devoted to his most brutal battles (airing Saturday night on HBO following World Championship Boxing: Alvarado vs. Provodnikov), Ward stepped to a podium in HBO’s headquarters and remembered his opponent in those three historic fights, Arturo Gatti, as a friend. “We had so many memories,” Ward said. “Good, and, obviously, bad at the end.” Gatti himself was not soft-spoken at all. But he was not there to say his piece.

Over a period of just 13 months in 2002 and 2003, Ward and Gatti engaged in three boxing matches that came, rather unexpectedly, to define both of their careers. Had they never met, Ward would have retired as a respected journeyman, just another tough, straightforward Irish fighter out of Massachusetts; Gatti would have had his own flashy and varied career like many other highly-touted Jersey showoffs. Together, however, they each found someone similar enough to themselves to create a situation like two stubborn mountain goats trying to pass each other on a rocky path only big enough for one of them. They butted heads for thirty rounds.

Ward won the classic first fight, in which Gatti got up from a devastating ninth round body shot to finish. Gatti took the second fight, in which Ward shattered his eardrum and lost his equilibrium yet pushed on to the end. And Gatti won the tiebreaking third fight, even though he broke his right hand early on. Each man suffered immensely. Each man instantly came to be defined by these fights, to the near-exclusion of the rest of their careers. “It was the greatest, most dramatic trilogy in the history of boxing,” said Lou DiBella, Ward’s promoter. “They became blood brothers.”

It is the friendship of the two men that shines through most in the film. They came to be like Army buddies, brought together forever by war. In their case, the war was with one another. Yet they grew so close by pushing each other to the edge that after Ward retired, he briefly became Gatti’s trainer. “When I beat him at the racetrack, he wouldn’t talk to me,” Ward recalled with a smile. “He wanted to go home.”

For all of Gatti’s flash inside and outside of the ring--and for all of his wild nights and partying, which were legendary--he comes off as a man equally decent as the humble Ward. Their story, of course, is shadowed by Gatti’s death in 2009 in Brazil (ruled a suicide, though significant skepticism still exists among Gatti’s friends and family, who plausibly believe he was murdered). Their parable seems deceptively simple on its surface: the humble man lived, the wild man died. But that’s not it at all. Gatti and Ward were far more alike than they were different. “He had a wild side, but who doesn’t?” Ward said of Gatti. “Whoever says they don’t, they’re lying.”

More than anything else, both men represent the iron will of a harsh sport--the will not to win, but to fight to the end, no matter the cost. Their fights, and their suffering, stand as a testament to what is possible.