By Austin Killeen
Boxing has a rich history of fighters in turf wars for bragging rights to the local neighborhood. Sadly we see less and less of this in present day boxing. But that will all change next Saturday night at the Route 66 Casino when Jose Torres squares off against Cristian Cabral in the main event and Max Heyman faces Mike Alderete in the semi final. Both fights are about bragging rights in the “Duke City.” You could call the Heyman/Alderete bout “The Final Chapter” and still get three more fights out of them. Cher’s “Farewell Tours” has been going on for a decade and the movie franchise “Fast and Furious” is now on its eighth production. So let’s have Heyman vs Alderete “For all the Marbles” on April 1, 2021 in their seventh bout. Heyman/Alderete is no joke, as their first two fights were action packed and this one should be more of the same.
In interviewing both fighters, I was surprised to find they took different paths to the sport of boxing. Max Heyman’s father was a martial arts instructor before his son was born. As a result Max’s early exposure to combat sports had nothing to do with boxing. He commented, “If mixed martial arts was more advanced in the early 90’s I never would have become a boxer. I wrestled in high school and competed in Muay Thai tournaments.” Muay Thai involves a lot if kicking, something you can’t do in a boxing ring. At the age of seventeen Max was asked to compete in the USA boxing tournament at the state level. “I won the state and regional tournament before being disqualified at the nationals. That same thing happened in the golden gloves that year, with my being disqualified at the nationals.” Max’s amateur career consisted of 16 amateur bouts over five months after which he turned pro.
Alderete took the more traditional route to the pro ranks than Heyman, having been introduced to the sport by a friend. Mike estimated he had about 55 amateur bouts winning the state and regional golden gloves, but losing in the nationals. Although there is less than two years difference in age, Alderete didn’t turn pro until 2003, six years after Heyman. As a result Heyman has had more than twenty more bouts than his rival.
Their first bout took place on May 7, 2010 at the Isleta Casino & Resort. A clean shot to the head early in the first round by Heyman put Alderete on the canvas for the first time in his career. Commenting on the fight Max said, “I broke my left hand and was not in shape to fight hard until the final bell.” Alderete stated, “I got up from a flash knockdown and outworked him the rest of the way to win a split decision.” Veteran boxing writer Rick Wright covered the bout for the Albuquerque Journal and scored the bout for Alderete. He based his decision on hard lefts and rights scored by Alderete. The official scores were 76-75 and 77-74 for Alderete and 76-75 for Heyman. Alderete felt he won the bout on superior conditioning because he had never trained as hard in training camp before. The fight itself was very entertaining and lived up to the prefight hype.
Six months later the boys hooked up again at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and this time Heyman would take a victory lap at the expense of Alderete. There was nothing wrong with Heyman’s left hand this time and it found the target over and over again in the rematch. Fighting behind an excellent left jab Heyman controlled the action from long range in the first two rounds. In the third round Heyman exploded a left hook to the body, dropping his rival. From that point on it was a battle of attrition with Heyman applying more and more power each round. Although it wasn’t his night, Alderete had no quit in him and just kept trying to turn the tide. At the end of the eighth round Alderete’s corner had seen enough and stopped the contest against the wishes of their fighter.
Now we move ahead to the night of March 17 of this year. During intermission before the main event Alderete and Heyman enter the ring and start calling each other out. It looked more like WWE wrestling and only Heyman looked to be in shape. After some pushing and shoving, cooler heads prevailed and (wink, wink) order was restored. At that time it was announced that there would be a third fight between them and that it would take place on June 23. Although the antics in the ring had provided a few laughs, I felt a third fight would be a joke. Last week after visiting both training camps, my opinion of the bout did a 180 degree turn.
On June 4th I visited the camp of Mike Alderete and found him to already be at the contracted weight. Although there was no sparring, I saw a boxer who was in shape and going through the final preparations for next Saturday night. The contract calls for both fighters to weigh in at 185 pounds and Alderete weighed 187 pounds on that evening. Alderete told me he felt great and would not have to lose ten pounds days before the bout. Mike was excited about the idea of next Saturday’s fight being for a state title. “It’s a nice belt for the New Mexico Cruiserweight Championship.” I asked Mike who his trainer was and he was excited about who was running his camp.”I’m training with Hector “the Hurricane” Munoz and it’s going well. Hector spars with me, I’ve been to Terence Crawford’s training camp and Hector brought me to Colorado for some work. I’ve never run so much in preparation for a fight.” When I asked Mike about his feelings towards Heyman he responded; “He’s a boxer, I respect him, I just don’t like the guy. If he’s at the top of his game and I’m at the top of my game, he isn’t going to beat me.”
The next morning I met with Max Heyman and his trainer Manuel Anaya. Anaya trained Heyman for his second fight with Alderete, so needless to say boxer and trainer are comfortable with each other. As expected Heyman was in excellent shape and loaded with confidence. When we sat down to talk, Max got right to the point. “Alderete has a lot of animosity towards me. I have his soul in my front pocket. I got it when I stole it in our last fight. He wants it back and he has to earn it to get it back. I took it when he quit. I don’t care if he says his corner stopped the fight, he quit! It’s mine and I have it for all of eternity. He wants revenge because he was humiliated in our last fight. He was humiliated because he was out boxed, out skilled, out toughed and out everything. I have a lot of respect for Mike, I don’t like him, but he works hard. He doesn’t look like he can go ten rounds let alone one. Between our two fights we’ve gone sixteen rounds and he pushed it all sixteen rounds. I have to give him credit, he doesn’t look it but he’s always in shape.” Max Heyman gives new meaning to the expression “providing you opponent with bulletin board material.”
When I first heard about the fight I thought it was a joke, but not anymore. When Alderete learns that his soul is missing he’ll really be up for the fight. These boys have generated some serious ticket sales and for good reason. I only saw Heyman live and had to rely on video to see both men in action. Heyman is you classic boxer/puncher. He is capable of opening up an opponent’s defense like it’s a can of sardines. If he can break through Alderete defense, he’ll be spooning out a large portion of pain. To be successful Heyman has to keep the fight in the middle of the ring. He has the advantage in both height and reach and has the skills to capitalize on both.
As for Alderete, he has a better defense than he’s generally given credit for. Although he’s not a big puncher, he’s very strong and knows how to work his way inside. He forces his opponent to leave his comfort zone and seems to be able to suck the oxygen out of the ring. If he needed any more motivation for this fight than already exists he’ll have it when he realizes his soul is missing. (Mike, Max said it not me.)
I’m getting the feeling this could be the fight of the night. Is there any wonder why I think there could be more Heyman/Alderete fights to come.
VOICES FROM THE CORNER: On May 24th bantamweight Jee “Mega” Kim scored his third straight stoppage when he scored a first round TKO over Luis Eduardo Escobedo at the Revolution Bar in Tijuana, Mexico. Using timing and distance to avoid Escobedo’s punches he made it look easy in upping his record to 3-0-0, (3 KO’s). As soon as Escobedo stopped throwing punches in order to catch his breath, Kim struck with the speed of a cobra. It didn’t take the referee long to save Escobedo from further punishment. When will his fans in Los Angeles get to see this prospect that has lightning bolts shooting out of his gloves?