Over the course of its 15 year run, HBO’s Boxing After Dark series has produced some of the sport’s most exciting matchups. The series has televised cards from all over the world in eight different countries with more than 125 championship bouts being broadcasted.
The inaugural broadcast on Feb. 3, 1996 featured a smashing 122-pound contest between rising Marco Antonio Barrera and a still quality Kennedy McKinney. It was a back-and-forth war with tons of bad blood. The program, which has focused on building stars for its World Championship Boxing brand, has hardly looked back since that first show.
On Saturday, a rematch of one of last year’s best fights tops an HBO B.A.D. telecast.Brandon Rios looks to duplicate his mid-rounds stoppage of Mike Alvarado at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The first fight, which took place last October in Carson, Calif., was a B.A.D. opener (for Nonito Donaire-Toshiaki Nishioka), while this fight will headline – to lots of fanfare.
It is one of the more anticipated fights of the early 2013 boxing schedule and with good reason. The first bout featured some of the most hellacious action and fits right in with other classics that have aired on the program.
Of all the fights that have taken place onBoxing After Dark, it would be difficult to rank them. One man that has the necessary credentials to do such a thing is HBO’s unofficial scorer and retired judge Harold Lederman, who has impressively worked every single one of the previous 145 shows dating back to 1996.
RingTV.com got in touch with Lederman, who was happy to provide his list of ten most memorable fights from Boxing After Dark while also sliding in the first Rios-Alvarado fight where he felt it fit in. That brings the list to 11 as we also include a few quotes from Lederman on each bout.
If the rematch between Rios and Alvarado is going to crack this list, it’ll sure be something to witness.
11. Oleg Maskaev KO 8 Hasim Rahman, Nov. 6, 1999
“At the Atlantic City Convention Hall, Jim Lampley forgot to duck and had huge Rahman in his lap [as a Maskaev right hand knocked him unconscious and out of the ring].
“In the meantime, I was under the ring where I couldn’t get crushed to death. Lamps learned that you move real quick when a heavyweight is flying through the ropes.“
10. Ivan Robinson SD 10 Arturo Gatti, Aug. 22, 1998
“Ivan was at his greatest. He couldn’t punch a lick, but the Philadelphia fighter put on a masterful display of boxing to win a well-deserved decision.”
[The first Gatti-Robinson fight was THE RING magazine’s Fight of the Year for 1998 and was followed up by a classic rematch that Robinson also won.]
9. Brandon Rios TKO7 Mike Alvarado, Oct. 13, 2012
“The ebb and flow of Rios-Alvarado, with both guys taking turns landing monumental shots until referee Pat Russell called a halt in round seven with Alvarado up against the ropes and Rios blasting away with some monumental right hands that couldn’t miss Alvarado’s chin certainly belongs in the top 10. It was everything that it was predicted to be.“
8. Erik Morales KO 11 Daniel Zaragoza, Sept. 6, 1997
“It must have been 150 degrees in El Paso, Texas, where Morales wore down Zaragoza [in his inaugural appearance on HBO]. I lost more weight at ringside than the two of them combined.“
7. Vince Phillips TKO10 Kostya Tszyu, May 31, 1997
“Who would have ever thought this could happen? Vince, rumored to be having problems outside of boxing, reached a new height that he would never reach again when he blasted the heavily-favored Australian in 10rounds using his murderous right hand. Vince was sitting on top of the world after this one, but he soon fell off and never got back up there again.“
6. Marcos Maidana TKO 6 Victor Ortiz, June 27, 2009
“Maidana, out of Argentina, showed grit, toughness, and determination and eventually made budding star Ortiz say, ‘No mas.’There were so many knockdowns in this fight that the crowd was roaring with excitement until a busted up Ortiz turned his back despite the pleas of California referee Raul Caiz Sr. for him to continue in round six.“
5. Miguel Cotto KO 7 Ricardo Torres, Sept. 24, 2005
“In the second round, I thought Cotto was gone and I had never even heard of Torres, another virtually unknown South American. Anyway, Cotto dragged himself off the canvas, badly hurt, and wound up stopping Torres to establish himself as a great fighter.”
4. Morales MD 12 Marco Antonio Barrera, Feb. 19, 2000
“This began a famous trilogy, with two Mexicans looking to kill each other. Personally, I thought Marco won, but what do I know? Barrera, with his half hook, half uppercut and spitting water through a slit in the front of his mouthpiece for three minutes a round, looked to be too much, but Morales prevailed.
3. Derrick Jefferson KO 6 Maurice Harris, Nov. 6, 1999
“Jefferson, with bullet holes in his legs, showed huge power in winning this slugfest. It may have been one of the most exciting heavyweight battles I ever saw in my life as these guys were landing monumental haymakers all night.”
[Jefferson would score a YouTube-quality KO of Harris more than a half-decade before the site would exist, knocking Harris’ mouthpiece out of his mouth to the tune of Larry Merchant screaming, “Derrick Jefferson! I LOVE YOU!”]
2. Barrera TKO 12 McKinney, Feb. 3, 1996
“This fight got the series off the ground. McKinney, fighting way over his head, put on the greatest performance of his career against the ‘Baby Faced Assassin.‘Barrera pulled it out, but he almost didn’t.“
1. Micky Ward MD 10 Arturo Gatti, May 18, 2002
“This was one of my favorite fights of all-time. My favorite is still Wilfredo Gomez-Lupe Pintor in New Orleans. But Ward-Gattilead to another fantastic trilogy, with all three fights being back and forth wars. If I remember correctly, Ward won the fight when he got the vote of fellow Massachusetts native judge Dick Flaherty.“
Photos / Michael Loccisano-Getty Images, Getty Images, THE RING
Mark Ortega is the boxing columnist for the Martinez News-Gazette and is a member of the Boxing Writers Assoc. of America and the RING Ratings Advisory Panel. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]as well as followed on Twitter @MarkEOrtega.