The GeeksverseLeaving Proof 153 | The Occasional Digression

Leaving Proof 153 | The Occasional Digression
Published on Sunday, October 14, 2012 by
Combat sports (Rios vs. Alvarado, Donaire vs. Nishioka, Silva vs. Bonnar) and WayForward Technologies’ Double Dragon Neon are the subjects of today’s Digression.

 

Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Quick thoughts on the three big combat sports stories of the evening of October 13:

Brandon Rios (31-0-1, 22 KOs) def. Mike Alvarado (33-1-0, 23 KOs) by TKO (Rd. 7)

Click on the image to view the fight gallery by Naoki Fukuda

Fast-rising pugilistic attraction Brandon Rios—going up to junior welterweight (140 lbs.) after spending most of his career campaigning as a lightweight (135 lbs.)—and highly-touted veteran Mike Alvarado gave fans a thrilling back-and-forth match reminiscent of the first and third Gatti-Ward contests on the undercard of the Nonito Donaire-Toshiaki Nishioka championship bout at Carson City’s Home Depot Center. Both fighters spent most of the fight trading punches in the middle of the ring, although to my eyes, it seemed like Alvarado, the naturally bigger man of the two, was getting the better of the exchanges. But one clean overhand right from Rios wobbled Alvarado in the seventh round and, after a sequence of about half-a-dozen unanswered power punches, referee Pat Russell saw fit to call a halt to the bout. Was the stoppage too early? Perhaps. It seemed like the hurt Alvarado still had his wits about him when Russell intervened, but in combat sports and especially in boxing, I’ll always prefer a premature TKO to a late one. Rios looked real good fighting at the heavier weight, but his wild, wide-open brawling style—while definitely crowd-pleasing—makes me wonder how much success he can ultimately have against the elite of the junior welterweight and welterweight (147 lbs.) divisions. His dreadfully exposed chin stood up to Alvarado’s power, but I don’t know how well it would hold up against the power of punchers like Marcos Maidana or Randall Bailey, never mind Manny Pacquiao.

Nonito Donaire (30-1-0, 19 KOs) def. Toshiaki Nishioka (39-5-2, 24 KOs) by TKO (Rd. 9)

Click on the image to view the fight gallery by Naoki Fukuda

The main event at the Home Depot Center had the California-based Donaire defending his WBO and IBF junior featherweight titles against Japan’s Nishioka, the world’s number one junior featherweight according to The Ring magazine’s rankings. The San Leandro resident dubbed by the boxing press as “The Filipino Flash” has been under pressure as of late to produce a convincing knockout win justifying the fearsome notoriety he developed with his devastating stoppage of Vic Darchinyan (which earned The Ring‘s Knockout of the Year award in 2007) and chilling demolition of Fernando Montiel (which likewise received Knockout of the Year recognition in 2011). The problem with Donaire’s fights since his win over Montiel is that his reputation precedes him: His last three opponents were so wary of his vaunted counter-left hook that they ended up “stinking out the joint”, engaging minimally and fighting to survive instead of to win, which makes for terribly boring bouts. Donaire wasn’t exactly blameless in those snoozers, however—in all three bouts he showed a somewhat mediocre ability to solve the defensive riddles offered up by his opponents, which had me slightly questioning just how high his ceiling could be as an elite fighter. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case against Nishioka. Like Mathebula, Vazquez, and Narvaez before him, Nishioka looked to turtle up and negate Donaire’s left hook—the Japanese southpaw fought most of the bout behind a high guard. Instead of getting frustrated, showboating, or looking for the increasingly elusive one-punch left hook KO like in his last three fights, Donaire and his corner made some very smart in-ring adjustments. Recognizing that Nishioka was focused on defending against the left hook, Donaire started throwing left uppercuts under Nishioka’s high guard and straight rights to the head and body. Donaire looked to be on his way to a comfortable decision win (he dropped Nishioka in the sixth with a sneaky left uppercut) when he knocked the challenger down on his backside with a gorgeous counter-straight right in the ninth round, timing it with split-second precision against a lazily-thrown jab. Nishioka managed to beat the count but his corner, having seen enough, threw in the towel. Besides mixing up the variety of his punches, Donaire also showed improved footwork, spacing, and angles. This was most apparent when Donaire engaged at middle range, where more often than not he was able to keep his left foot on the outside of Nishioka’s right foot, ensuring that the left-hander would be unable to get full extension and power behind his lead hooks while lining up his own straight right perfectly against the exposed areas of Nishioka’s head and body. After the fight and with his gloves off, the wraps on Donaire’s left hand looked to have some blood on them. and he did confirm with HBO’s Max Kellerman that he hurt his left hand during the sixth round. This was the same hand that he injured in the Vazquez fight, and it will be interesting to see if this will be some sort of recurring issue for the fighter or if it’s just an unfortunate coincidence.

Anderson Silva (33-4-0, 20 KOs, 6 Subs) def. Stephan Bonner (15-8-0, 3 KOs, 7 Subs) by TKO (Rd. 1)

I’m usually very excited for an Anderson Silva fight—any chance to see one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time ply his trade live on pay-per-view should be treasured now that he’s nearing the end of his Hall of Fame-worthy career—but I really wasn’t all that thrilled going into watching his light heavyweight (205 lbs.) non-title bout against Stephan Bonner. Don’t get me wrong, Bonnar is a solid if unspectacular fighter but even with his natural size advantage, he just isn’t in the same class as the UFC’s incumbent middleweight (185 lbs.) champion. Silva made his disdain for Bonnar’s skills clear, standing right in front of “The American Psycho” and effortlessly rolling with and slipping his punches. Even during the few instances when Bonnar’s strikes did connect, they didn’t seem to faze the Brazilian, who was clearly toying with his eager but outmatched opponent. One knee to the solar plexus and it was all over with twenty seconds left in the first round. As I’d written previously, I don’t really know if there’s anything left for Silva to do in the sport except for perhaps catchweight fights against welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre or light heavyweight titlist Jon Jones.

 

Double Dragon Neon

I bought WayForward Technologies’ Double Dragon Neon published by Majesco Entertainment for the PS3 a couple of weeks ago (it sells for $9.99 on the Playstation Store as of this writing) and I’ve been having an absolute blast playing it—it’s not the best PSN game I’ve played this year (Journey still tops the list), but it certainly is the most fun I’ve had with a PSN game in the past year or so. The game features updated character, stage, and audio designs from the 1987 arcade classic., but it isn’t a simple note-for-note HD remake. It’s a new game littered with tons of nods to 1980s video games and pop culture.

I can see how the game might not appeal to younger players, though—side-scrolling “beat ‘em ups” have been out of vogue since at least the late 1990s and Double Dragon Neon‘s old-school difficulty (even at the lowest setting) might be too frustrating for gamers who’ve grown accustomed to contemporary game mechanics like regenerating health and automatic save points. Anyone who grew up enjoying the original Double Dragon arcade game and its home console incarnations should at least give the free demo a try, though.

Also worth noting is the game’s excellent soundtrack written by Jake Kaufman. Kaufman’s tracks incorporate various 1980s and early 1990s influences—Prince, Peter Gabriel, Marvin Gaye, NWA, Enya, Stan Bush, The Beastie Boys, and “Mean Green Mother from Outer Space” (from 1986’s Little Shop of Horrors musical)—are several that come readily to mind. The whole soundtrack can be downloaded legally at a “name-your-price” deal (yes, that includes “free”) from Kaufman’s Bandcamp page.

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