This past Saturday night Showtime Sports put on Knockout Kings 2 from the ATT Center in San Antonio, Texas. With six fighters on the three fight Showtime card that have over one hundred knockouts between them, well, you expect a couple of knockouts. We did get two of those in a pair of the fights, but it was the one fight that went the distance that was truly special. It is already topping many FOTY lists as it was a classic battle between Young and talented but untested Omar Figueroa Jr (21-0-1, 17 KOs) when he took on unknown inside of the United States Nihito Arakawa (24-2-1, 16KOs). By the end of this fight all questions were answered about Figueroa and fight fans know who Arakawa is and what he is all about.
There is a great picture on Golden Boy Productions’ Twitter timeline of the two lightweight fighters together in the hospital after they had both been checked out and released. Their faces are wearing the bruises and cuts but they both still have a faint smile on their faces. It also shows the mutual respect for each other. At that moment they know more about each other than anybody else really does. They shared something special as they pushed and tested each other’s limits. They may face better fighters in their careers but none tougher and none with greater warrior spirit.
To try and describe the action of this fight would be ridiculous. Combined they threw over two thousand punches. It was a fight that defined non-stop action. You also heard Mauro Ranallo use fighting in a phone booth as throughout the fight Arakawa just kept coming forward until he could put his head on Figueroa’s shoulder. The whole time they are just throwing punches and more punches, literally averaging between them one punch per second. Even in the later rounds when they had to be tired they just kept throwing. Their technique faltered but not their heart and desire.
It was their hearts, desires and fighting spirits that took us on an epic journey. The early rounds were competitive and close but Figueroa was clearly winning the fight and that started to show on Arakawa’s face. By the middle rounds, with his eyes swollen above and below, you started to worry for Arakawa. You started to wonder if they should stop this fight but Arakawa would not let them. He would not quit and he stayed competitive throughout the fight. When the fight got to the eleventh round you had no idea how he was still standing much less throwing bunches of punches himself. Arakawa continues to keep fighting and we have learned that Figueroa’s hands are hurting him. Arakawa is not only still standing but could win this fight. Figueroa has no quit in him and keeps fighting. The fight somehow goes the distance. Arakawa won the last two rounds but Figueroa did enough to clearly win the fight. Arakawa’s swollen and mask like face told a part of that story.
One of my favorite moments in the fight is right after the bell in the third round. Arakawa was knocked down in the second and absorbed more punishment in the third and he has this grin on his face. It is a grin of someone who is doing something they love. It is more like a little boy playing his favorite game with his new friend on a summer day. That same beaming smile was still there after the sixth round, a round in which Arakawa went down for the second time in the fight. Instead of being frustrated by the knockdown he is having a great time. Figueroa had to be wondering what was keeping this guy up and what do I have to do to knock that smile off of his face.
It would have been easy for Arakawa to have quit in this fight and it would have been easy for Figueroa to get frustrated by the iron will of Arawkawa. Instead these two fighters just kept digging deeper and deeper inside showing us their warrior spirits. Figueroa went twelve rounds for the first time, and showed the heart of a champion. For Arakawa it was a magnificent introduction to fight fans in the United States. He gave us a display of pure guts and will. It took these two fighters facing each other for them and us to learn the depths of their desire and fighting spirit. If you have Showtime do yourself a favor and watch this OnDemand. If you do not have it then find a friend who does, grab some beer and go to their house. This fight was a true masterpiece of violent beauty authored by two classic warriors and demands repeated viewing.
image via @GoldenBoyBoxing
Article via @DwayneWolff1
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