The Five Best Junior Welterweight Battles of All-Time

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This Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios will go toe to toe in what most see as a guaranteed instant classic. The junior welterweight clash between the two Mexican-American brawlers may, technically, be the chief support to the Nonito Donaire-Toshiaki Nishioka main event, but there's little doubt that it could very well provide the evening's most memorable moments.

Here's a look at five other 140 lb. classics that captivated the boxing world:

Aaron Pryor TKO 14 Alexis Arguello

Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida. November 12, 1982

Regarded by many as one of the greatest fights of all-time, this clash for Pryor's WBA junior welterweight title pitted the frenetic aggression of Pryor against the smooth warrior class of WBC lightweight champ, Arguello. The clash of styles resulted in a back and fourth war with Pryor eventually stopping his opponent in the fourteenth round. Ten months later, the two tangled one more time with Pryor stopping Arguello again, this time in the tenth round.

Julio Cesar Chavez TKO 12 Meldrick Taylor

Las Vegas Hilton, Las Vegas, Nevada. March 17, 1990

In a battle of undefeated junior welterweight champs, IBF titlist, Taylor took on WBC champ, Chavez in a dream clash of styles and temperaments. Taylor, using his superior hand speed, built an early lead, nearly sweeping the early rounds on two of the three judges' scorecards. But Chavez slowly worked his way back into the contest, hitting Taylor heavy to the body and gradually grinding him down. By the twelfth and final round, Taylor was an empty shell and Chavez was coming on strong, working under the correct assumption that he needed a knockout to win. With seconds left in the bout, Chavez sent Taylor to the canvas with a hard right hand and, while Taylor was able to beat the count, he was in no condition to continue. Much to the dismay of many, referee Richard Steele would stop the contest with two seconds left, further increasing the legendary status of "El Gran Campeon Mexicano." In the rematch four years later, Chavez would stop a badly-faded version of Taylor in the eighth round.

Micky Ward MD 10 Arturo Gatti

Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut. May 18, 2002

Technically, this was not a junior welterweight bout since both fighters weighed in one and a half pounds over the 140 lb. limit, but how could anyone leave this hardcore classic off any Top 5 list on such a technicality? Gatti-Ward became an instant classic and a fixture on most fight fans' all-time best fight lists. The back and forth brutality had fans on their feet and still, to this day, excites those who have likely seen the bout several times already. This classic clash, won via decision by Ward, elevated two relatively marginal fighters into cult figure status. It would also produce two entertaining rematches, both won by Gatti.

Marcos Maidana TKO 6 Victor Ortiz

Staples Center, Los Angeles, California. June 27 2009

Golden Boy's Victor Ortiz was being groomed for stardom and a world title shot when he was signed up to face the unknown, free swinging Argentine battler, Maidana. Early on, though, it became painfully obvious that Ortiz's resume-filler was going to be a real, legitimate battle. Maidana would survive a knockdown midway through the first round, battling back to send Ortiz to the canvas right before the round's closing bell. Following two knockdowns in the second, the Argentine would step up the pressure against a tough, but increasingly troubled Ortiz. In the sixth round, Ortiz, battered and bloodied, collapsed under the relentless pressure, passively going along with referee Raul Caiz Sr.'s decision to wave off the bout.

Micky Ward UD 10 Emanuel Augustus

Hampton Beach Casino, Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. July 13, 2001

The combination of Ward's brawling and Augustus' accurate, tenacious boxing immediately produced something truly special, prompting Teddy Atlas to tell viewers on ESPN's Friday Night Fights to call their friends and tell them to tune in. Atlas' assessment was dead-on as Ward and Augustus (then known as Emanuel Burton) would combine to throw 2,100 punches over ten rounds. Ward would come away with the decision victory, but both fighters would win their share of fans after this battle and the fans would be able to boast of having seen a modern classic.


Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, and a close follower of the sport for more than 30 years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The BoxingTribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.


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