Damn, is it just me or has it felt like an eternity since we've had a proper Character Battle on this site?! Time to change that. This month, I'm going to focus on my (other) favorite sport...
Seeing as how I'm a man of flexible moral fiber, I have no problem whatsoever sharing with you that there are only two sports that I will ever gamble on. The first is football. Since I used to be a linemen in my youth, I developed an appreciation for the controlled chaos of the sport. The other is boxing. Ahh, yes... the sweet science of pugilism. Many a night has been spent with me (almost religiously) watching PPV fights & downing just copious amounts of alcohol. From the agile flyweights to the hard-hitting heavyweights, everything about the sport fascinates me. And with the news that came out just this weekend, all boxing fans have something spectacular to look forward to later this year. So now that I (and, more than likely, you) have boxing on the brain, I wanted to see a contest of "these hands"...
Moments like this, I'm reminded as to why I enjoy doing this column so much. Furthermore, the usual gallantry of my mannerisms is actually a perfect fit here. In the blue corner, weighing 176 lbs., the "White Wolf of the Ring"... Rick Strowd! And his opponent in the red corner, hailing all the way from Japan, the "Wandering Wolf"... Akihiko Sanada! Full disclosure, I only realized just now that both of these fighters consider themselves "wolves". Don't that beat all?
First up is Rick. Although it's not visibly clear, Rick is Native American. Since there aren't too many Amerind fighters, this is something that has always endeared him to me. He was a casino prize fighter, but simply wasn't feeling it anymore after a while. Totally understandable, seeing as how fighters like that rarely get the opportunity to shine or even get out there to really test their skills. In my opinion, the real tragedy of Rick (as a character) is that he functionally replaced in the KOF canon by Vanessa. (FYI: I loves me some Vanessa, so don't take that last sentence as a slight against her.) In terms of style, Rick is usually the aggressor. Most of his attacks have him getting toe-to-toe with his opponent. However, he's not entirely without any defensive or evasive tactics. Our boy just likes to always be moving forward.
Next up, the younger of the two, Akihiko (or 'Aki', for short) is actually the more well travelled of the two. Forever seeking to surpass his limits, Aki trains relentlessly. Although he definitely knows how to gussy up, don't let that fool you into thinking he can't throw down. You can't get scars like his by playing it safe. Case in point, I'd hate to see what happened to whatever unfortunate beast gave him those three on his chest. In terms of style, Aki understands the importance of footwork by getting it & getting out. Just by looking at him, you can tell he's not afraid to take a few licks in order to get the job done.
So who would have a better professional career in the squared circle? Considering how the sport's landscape has changed over the years, favoring the smaller weight classes over the heavyweights, the odds favor both of them. However, I feel that the edge is on Akihikio's side simply because he's dedicated himself to training for damn near any kind of opponent. Rick, on the other hand, is more or less playing it by ear. Seeing as how he was one-shot (not counting that NGPC title, sorry) whereas Aki has been a prominent fixture in two entries of the same series, he clearly has the staying power/notoriety needed for career longevity. That's not to say Rick wouldn't make a splash, but I get the feeling it'd be a short lived burst.
WINNER: AKIHIKO SANADA
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.