By: Robert Aaron Contreras
No rematch is created equally. A return match can be called if the first go seemed like a fluke. Other times, the initial match proved to be such a scintillating matchup that public demand forces the two parties to do it all over again.
In June, WBA titleholder Andrew Cancio had already slung the gold belt over his shoulder. But speculation over former champion Alberto Machado’s conditioning left Cancio no choice but to affirm his claim of the WBA super featherweight title in a rematch. And he did by scrambling Machado’s insides with a left hook to the body, inducing a third-round knockout.
Now set to defend his strap for the second time, Cancio’s biggest challenge this weekend might not be the man in front of him—who he already holds a win over—but instead the fight card going on in Las Vegas, with Deontay Wilder at the top of the bill. The heavyweight star participates in a rematch of his own with Luis Ortiz after their classic slugfest last year.
So eyes may be limited for Cancio (21-4-2, 16 KO) as he tackles a former opponent in Rene Alvarado (31-8, 20 KO). DAZN will carry the action on Nov. 23, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The two previously met in 2015 when Cancio picked up a knockout victory in the eight round. The stoppage was well needed for the California native who had just dropped a bout to Ronny Rios. The future champ would lose once more (to JoJo Diaz) before putting together his masterpiece, stringing together four consecutive wins, culminating in two blowout victories over the sharpshooting beltholder Machado.
Four years on, the loss almost seems like an anomaly for Alvarado. It was part of a mediocre run across the lower tier of the division, competing between the U.S. and his homeland of Argentina. Recognizable names like Rocky Juarez, Jayson Velez and Yuriorkis Gamboa were too much for Alvarado. He lost to all of them and was 8-6 over his previous 14 bouts before mounting a seven-fight win streak, that dates back to the summer of 2017, on his way to a mandatory title defense this weekend.
The Argentinian veteran’s real watershed moment came on the undercard of the Orlando Salido vs. Mickey Roman melee. Alvarado had the warring ways perfectly suitable to support the violent main event and rushed out to an early lead against perennial contender Denis Shafikov, eventually earning a split-decision nod.
From there Alvarado’s pursuit for gold was on. He separated himself from the pack, including a decision over journeyman Carlos Morales, who just before that extended blue-chip prospect Ryan Garcia.
Much like his rival, Alvarado is experiencing a late surge. Already 30, the visiting challenger is still younger than Cancio, aged 31.
Cancio’s age and experience, though, is his advantage, only giving him longer time to adapt and evolve. He is some kind of boxing amoeba. Resurrected from his middling days as a featherweight, he is now elite; a banger by nature, he’s demonstrated that he can fight backwards—against the likes of Dardan Zenunaj—or simply seek and destroy as he did with frightening efficiency against Machado, twice.
As for the rest of the card, it is a relatively thin—totaling just nine bouts. The show includes featherweight beltholder Can Xu, who in the beginning of the year became the third world champion ever from China. He defends his belt for the second time against undefeated tyro Manny Robles III.