Retired former contender “Irish” Micky Ward said that he believes that Saturday night’s HBO-televised junior welterweight clash of unbeatens between former lightweight titleholder Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., could conjure his classic trilogy with Arturo Gatti.
Rios (30-0-1, 22 knockouts) has promised that his bout with Alvarado (33-0, 23 KOs) will be “a very violent, very bloody fight,” one he believes will invoke memories of the Gatti-Ward trilogy as well as the Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo 2005 Fight of The Year.
Nicknamed “Mile High,” Alvarado has vowed to become the first man to score a knockout against Rios, whom he meets on the undercard of a main event matching Nonito Donaire (29-1, 18 KOs) against Japan’s Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KOs), THE RING’s No. 3 and No. 1 junior featherweights, respectively, in what will be a battle for the 122-pound championship, as well as for Donaire’s IBF and WBO belts.
Alvarado and Rios are known for their fierce, blood-and-guts approach to boxing, with Rios having won his past two bouts by 11th-round knockout of British contender Johnny Murray in December and controversial split-decision over Richard Abril in April.
On the Rios-Abril undercard, Alvarado overcame rugged Mauricio Herrera for a 10-round unanimous decision after having survived for a come-from-behind, 10th-round stoppage of Breidis Prescott on the November undercard the third fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Ward (38-13-1, 27 knockouts) is most known for his trilogy with Gatti, whom he defeated and then twice lost to before retiring. Of the three Gatti-Ward bouts, the first and third earned RING Magazine’s “Fight Of The Year” honors.
The late Gatti (40-9, 31 KOs) earned IBF junior lightweight and WBC junior welterweight titles and is a nominee for the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013.
Ward and his older half-brother and former trainer Dicky Eklund were portrayed by actors Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, respectively, in The Fighter, a movie released in 2010 about Ward’s life.
Bale received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for The Fighter, and Melissa Leo, an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in the role of Ward’s late mother, Alice Ward.
During the summer of 2009, Ward, Eklund and Bale spent time at Wahlberg’s home in Beverly Hills working out as boxers in Wahlberg’s private boxing gym replete with a full ring and boxer’s training equipment and trading punches as part of their preparation for the film.
Although the Gatti-Ward trilogy was not depicted in The Fighter, Ward said that he is in favor of a Fighter sequel that would address his match ups and his relationship with Gatti.
Below is more of what Ward had to say about Rios-Alvarado as well as Gatti in this brief Q&A.
RingTV.com: Do you believe that Rios-Alvarado can be the sort of fight that the Gatti-Ward series was?
Micky Ward: If you look at it, the way that they both fight, most definitely, it can. Will it happen? We don’t know. But it has all of the makings to be a great fight. The way that they fight, they’re both disciplined guys.
They fight hard. They don’t take backward steps. So it has the makings of being a fight like the ones between me and Arturo Gatti. But, you know, who knows. But like I said, it certainly has the makings.
RingTV.com: Will you watch?
MW: I will be watching, yes.
RingTV.com: Can you make a pick on who will win?
MW: Man, I really don’t pick. I stopped doing that after I picked three losers in a row. I said after that that I’m not doing it again.
I know that there has been a bunch. Every fight, I go with my heart instead of, like, what I should go with, you know what I mean?
RingTV.com: What is your assessment of each of the fighters’ skills?
MW: Well, Rios is a tough guy, and Alvarado, he’s tough too. You know, I might give Alvarado a little bit of an edge, but I don’t know.
It’s safe to say that it’s going to be a great fight and that I’ll be watching. People should tune in to watch it, because it’s going to be a classic, hopefully.
RingTV.com: Is there any talk of a sequel to The Fighter, including your series with Gatti?
MW: Hopefully. They’re talking about it, so hopefully it happens. There’s really nothing yet, but hopefully, they’ll do the Gatti trilogy, you know?
It’s just being thrown around and discussed right now — no one in particular. Just that I’ve been hearing things about it, so I hope that it happens.
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]