Brandon Rios dug deep, overcame an early assault and stopped Mike Alvarado in the seventh round Saturday night in Carson, Calif. In doing so, he emerged as a new brightly shining star in the boxing world.
"I'm a warrior. I let him get that little advantage. I let him think he hurt me. I'm a warrior, I go forward," Rios told Max Kellerman in the ring after the fight.
While Rios won, and deserved to, both he and Alvarado will both become household names as a result of this performance.
The two men came into their fight promising a war, and to say they delivered would be like saying World War II was a school playground fight.
The fight was an exercise in total brutality. It was less the sweet science and more the boxing equivalent of a thermonuclear war.
The entire fight, from the opening bell, to the final second, was fought in a phone booth. Both men exchanged murderous shots, designed not to hurt, but to knock out their opponent every time.
It was a fight, that as fight fans we love, but at times, was difficult to watch. Was it the fight of the year? It's hard to see how it isn't. But, both guys swallowed a massive, and at times, frightening amount of punishment.
In the early rounds, the tone was set, as both men stood toe-to-toe in the center of the ring—not a shred of defense, not a care in the world. There was just leather, heads turning with blood and sweat flying.
In the middle rounds Alvarado appeared to be seizing command in the fight. His shots were harder, landed with more frequency and seemed to do more damage. But Rios was undeterred, adding more and more shots to the body to his repertoire, work that paid off.
In the seventh round, Rios landed a series of punches that hurt Alvarado and forced him into the ropes. A massive right hand put him in severe trouble and prompted referee Pat Russell to stop the fight.
"Mike Alvarado is a warrior, but I told him I'd come out victorious," Rios told Max Kellerman in the ring after the fight.
In just seven rounds, the two men combined to throw shots at a blistering pace, combining for over 1,300 punches thrown by the time of the stoppage.
Alvarado was gracious in defeat, and this really is one of those fights where both guys win.
"I kind of got wheeled in to a slugging match with Brandon. But the fight went the way it had to go. I went in there to fight my fight but it is what it is, the fight turned out the way it did" Alvarado told Kellerman.
"He shook me up a little bit. But I mean I thought it was stopped a little to early. I could have kept going."
For his part, referee Pat Russell made the call he felt he had to make in order to protect a fighter, who had both dished out and absorbed huge amounts of punishment, from further harm.
"The whole thing was brutal," Russell sad.
"I thought he was defenseless and I don't want to see him get hurt. I stopped that fight."
You can reasonably argue that some more time could have been given to Alvarado, but you can't blame Russell for his decision.
While Brandon Rios won this fight tonight through sheer heart, determination and will, there are no losers. Both he and Mike Alvarado will be back, possibly against each other, and both deserve to be called the ultimate compliment in boxing—warrior.