Repeat or revenge: A look at 10 rematches

One boxing adage would have you believe that if a boxer stops an opponent, he will usually do so again in a rematch, perhaps earlier in the fight. The reasoning: The boxer who does the stopping has the psychological advantage; he knows he can hurt his opponent and get him out of the fight. Thus, the theory goes, he enters the rematch with great confidence, whereas the other man might be beset by doubts.

It doesn't always work out like this, of course. A fighter who gets stopped might be able to work out what went wrong, correct mistakes and perhaps ratchet up his levels of conditioning and alertness. And revenge can be a powerful motivating force.

Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz meet in a pay-per-view repeat-or-revenge fight Saturday. Marquez can gain comfort from the knowledge that he knocked out Diaz in their fiercely contested bout 17 months ago. Diaz believes that a change in tactics -- smarter boxing, less slugging -- will lead to a different result. Boxing history offers comfort to both fighters. Here is a look at 10 rematches, five in which the KO winner in the initial fight won the second bout, five where fortunes were reversed:


Rocky Marciano versus Jersey Joe Walcott

Marciano's heavyweight championship victory over Walcott on Sept. 23, 1952, was hard earned. Walcott, at 38 the oldest heavyweight champion in history up to that time, was clever and courageous. He knocked down Marciano in the first round and led on points before the Brockton Blockbuster froze him in the 13th round with one of boxing's most celebrated right-hand punches. The rematch eight months later was a one-round disappointment. Dropped by a right uppercut, Walcott seemed to misjudge the count. He scrambled to his feet just as referee Frank Sikora counted "10." The Walcott camp protested that the ex-champion had been given a fast count, and many agreed. "Scores of fans, many of whom paid the $50 top price, streamed to ringside to protest the knockdown count," reported the Associated Press. Walcott had clearly been hurt, though, and with 35 seconds remaining in the round, he might not have survived Marciano's follow-up onslaught. Walcott never boxed again.

Gerald McClellan versus Julian Jackson

In a clash of middleweight big hitters, the undefeated McClellan stopped the more experienced Jackson in the fifth round to win the title May 8, 1993. It was touch and go, however. McClellan seemed to have been hurt in the second round, and he backed up as Jackson attacked confidently. "Gerald is looking scared; this is what you call intimidation," TV analyst Ferdie Pacheco informed viewers. Behind on points, McClellan rallied to floor Jackson twice in a thrilling fifth-round finish. "I let my emotions get in the way of my skills," McClellan later told me in an interview for Boxing Monthly. "That was the worst, the sloppiest fight I've had in my whole career." In the rematch a year later, a controlled and icy McClellan blasted through Jackson in 83 seconds. In his next fight, though, the seemingly unstoppable McClellan suffered life-altering injuries in a battle with Nigel Benn in London.

Iran Barkley versus Thomas Hearns

Battered and bloodied, seemingly on the brink of being stopped, Barkley dramatically turned things around by landing a huge right hand in the third round of his middleweight title fight against the heavily favored Hearns in June 1988. Barkley was again the underdog for the rematch in March 1992, this time with the light heavy title at stake. The brave and belligerent slugger from New York's south Bronx won again, though, this time on a split decision. A knockdown scored in the fourth round gave Barkley his narrow victory. "Hearns surprised everyone by staying inside and fighting toe to toe," I reported ringside from the Caesars Palace for Boxing Monthly. "Also surprising, perhaps, was that Hearns' suspect chin stood up to Barkley's bombs." It was the only fight that Hearns ever lost on points.

Aaron Pryor versus Alexis Arguello

Pryor and Arguello waged two unforgettable wars for the 140-pound title in the 1980s, with the fast-punching and furious Cincinnati Hawk winning by knockout each time. The first meeting, at Miami's Orange Bowl on Nov. 12, 1982, was one of boxing's classic fights. Arguello, skilled and dangerous, landed some huge right hands, but Pryor wore him down and overpowered the great Nicaraguan boxer in the 14th round. Pryor's win was somewhat tainted by the well-chronicled "black bottle" controversy, with the suspicion that trainer Panama Lewis had concocted a mixture not entirely within commission guidelines. In the rematch in Las Vegas, however, Pryor confirmed that he was simply the better fighter, overpowering Arguello in the 10th round. "Mr. Pryor demonstrated why he's the toughest, baddest, meanest, craziest and maybe even craftiest fighter now residing on the planet," Doug Krikorian reported in The Los Angeles Herald Examiner. "I don't think I hurt him at all," Arguello said in the postfight news conference. "He was too strong."

Carmen Basilio versus Tony DeMarco

The two welterweight championship wars between Basilio and DeMarco were prime examples of the man who imposed his will in the first fight doing the same in the rematch. Basilio captured the title on his home turf of Syracuse, N.Y., on June 10, 1955, and retained the title in DeMarco's hometown of Boston five months later, each bout ending in the 12th round. DeMarco fought valiantly and well each time and came close to winning the second bout when a seventh-round bombardment "sent the defending champion rubber-legged, halfway across the ring," in the words of New York Times reporter Joseph C. Nichols. Basilio rallied, though, and "whittled down the hometown boy with a systematic, sharp-punching attack."


Jose Luis Castillo versus Diego Corrales

The first fight between Castillo and Corrales, in May 2005, was simply amazing, an all-time-great war for the lightweight title. Corrales, his left eye swollen and closing, appeared to be out of the fight when he suffered two knockdowns in the 10th round. He gained valuable moments of recovery time when discarding his mouthpiece, which was rinsed and replaced, and astonishingly rallied to hurt and halt Castillo with 54 seconds remaining in the round. Castillo went into the rematch five months later with an unfair advantage, coming in as the heavier man by 3&frac12; pounds after having failed to make the lightweight limit. It seemed clear in hindsight, though, that the bruising initial encounter had taken more out of the winner than the loser. Castillo, stronger and sharper, knocked out Corrales in the fourth round.

Terry Norris versus Simon Brown

Knocked out in devastating fashion by Brown in their December 1993 junior middleweight title bout, Norris boxed with skill, discipline and intelligence to win the rematch by a wide margin on points. It was a striking example of how a smart fighter can learn from a crushing setback and execute a winning strategy for the return bout. Normally aggressive and knockout-seeking, Norris used a hit-and-move method that frustrated his dangerous opponent in their return bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 7, 1994. "I think I surprised Simon Brown more than anybody with my ability to box tonight," Norris said in the postfight news conference.

Rocky Graziano versus Tony Zale

Zale's greater experience saw him through when he knocked out Graziano in their thrilling middleweight title fight in September 1946, but the colorful slugger from Brooklyn avenged the loss in their return bout July 16, 1947, each of the epic battles ending in the sixth round. Zale, the older man by eight years, was the superior boxer. Graziano won the rematch not by improved technique but by willpower and a resolve that he would take whatever necessary punishment and keep throwing his heavy punches until victory was achieved. He had "trained harder and longer for tonight's battle than he ever did before," reported the Vancouver Sun. Cut over the left eye and with his right eye swelling shut, Graziano began to take over the fight as Zale tired in the fifth round on a sweltering night at Chicago Stadium. "After the battle, Zale said the enervating heat had sapped his strength," reported the New York Times. "That may be true, but the paralyzing punches of Graziano unquestionably had more than a little influence in the champion's complete collapse."

Sechew Powell versus Deandre Latimore

ESPN viewers were able to see a prime example of a reversal of fortune when Powell outscored Latimore in the rematch of southpaw junior middleweights on "Friday Night Fights" in March. Latimore had won the first fight (televised on "Wednesday Night Fights") in emphatic fashion, overwhelming Powell in the seventh round. Although the contest seemed even after six rounds, Latimore seemed the stronger, hungrier fighter that night and he outlasted and outpunched the more experienced but lethargic-looking Powell in an upset. Powell, however, was clearly better prepared and more focused in the return bout. He simply seemed much tougher mentally than he had in the first fight. Latimore reached out to touch gloves when the first round ended. As analyst Teddy Atlas astutely observed, it's not a good sign when a fighter makes a "let's be friends" gesture after just three minutes of boxing. Although one judge had the fight even after 12 rounds, Powell was a comfortable and deserving winner on the other two scorecards.

Joe Louis versus Max Schmeling

Surely the most popular payback win in ring history came when Louis annihilated Schmeling in their rematch for the heavyweight title at Yankee Stadium on June 22, 1938. Two years earlier, Schmeling had knocked out Louis in 12 rounds in the same arena, giving the young Brown Bomber his first defeat. A more mature Louis, determined and powerful, was favored to win the rematch over a 33-year-old Schmeling, who had boxed only three times in the two years since the first fight. With Schmeling seen as representing Hitler's Germany, there was enormous emotional support for Louis. A win for Louis was not considered a formality, though. Former champion Jack Johnson picked Schmeling, citing Louis' "poor craftsmanship." Writers for the New York Times, New York Daily News and New York Post tipped Schmeling. Louis was a mere 2-1 betting favorite. In the event, the fight turned out to be brutally one-sided as Louis blazed through the ex-champion, proving to be "an incomparable destroyer" in the words of the Associated Press' Gayle Talbot.