Pernell Whitaker versus Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.
Canelo Alvarez versus Austin Trout.
The comparisons are so obvious between the two fights that are separated by nearly 20 years. What was once old is new again.
Both fights pitted champion against champion. Both were among the biggest that could be made in boxing at the time. Both were held in the same stadium. Both featured a popular, brawling Mexican hero against a more refined African-American southpaw.
Let’s just hope the one thing they ultimately won’t share is an extraordinarily controversial outcome.
On Sept. 10, 1993, welterweight champion Whitaker -- the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world at the time -- defended his title against junior welterweight champion Chavez, who many had No. 2 on the P4P list, in front of a crowd of nearly 60,000 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
In the end, the fight was ruled a draw, one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history. To most, Whitaker schooled Chavez and was simply robbed of the decision deep in the heart of Texas, where Chavez was the massive crowd favorite and the guy who generated big money.
Now here we are again getting ready for Alvarez-Trout. They will meet to unify their junior middleweight world titles Saturday night (Showtime, 10 ET/7 PT) in front of a what is expected to be a crowd of about 38,000 at the Alamodome in a fight so hotly anticipated that promoter Golden Boy, which had set the arena up for 35,000, added an extra 3,000 seats last week.
Alvarez and Trout know all about the comparisons being made between the fights and have embraced it. And why not? Being compared to those great fighters has to be nice.
“It is a very similar fight,” the 22-year-old Alvarez said through a translator. “I watched it on video several times, and Austin Trout, like Pernell Whitaker, is a southpaw, slick, difficult fighter. He's very difficult, but that's what we're training hard for. We're training hard for that and come [Saturday], the night of the fight, we're going to make it where it's not so difficult for us.”
Trout is coming off his huge win against Miguel Cotto in December and is aiming for another big-time win against Alvarez in a bout he also believes has a lot of similarities to Whitaker-Chavez.
“First of all, let's just say ‘Sweet Pea’ is one of my favorite fighters,” Trout said. “But the thing of it between me and ‘Sweet Pea’ is that I could punch a bit. There are things I saw that he did in the fight that he could've done to make it a lot less close that he could've done to pull away from Chavez.
“The best way to not let history repeat itself is knowing your history. So yes, I've definitely watched the fight. We'll make our adjustments because Chavez Sr. is not Canelo and I'm not Sweet Pea. But there are very similar comparisons.”
Trout (26-0, 14 KOs), 27, of Las Cruces, N.M., is, of course, referring to the decision. He hopes his fight with Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs) goes the same way as Whitaker-Chavez, minus the horrible scorecards. Trout knows nobody is going to do him any favors in Canelo country, and he admitted that he is a little concerned about getting a fair shake -- but at ease.
“We know Texas is WBC country,” Trout said, referring to the Mexico-based alphabet organization that has Alvarez as its titleholder. “But I can't focus, I can't use any energy to dwell on things I can't control. All I can do is just focus on what I can control, and that's what I have to do in the ring.
“We don't want to go out of the game plan. We don't want to break character to force something that's not there. So we're going to just stick to our guns and make sure that we do our absolute best, and if it goes to the judges, then it's really in God's hands. If the judges want to jerk me, that's between them and God.”