Brandon Rios: Is He Being Groomed as the Next Manny Pacquiao of the Sport?
Saturday night was one of those very rare occasions where a fight that has been so hyped by HBO, promoters Top Rank and pretty much most boxing media outlets actually lived up to the hype.
The Brandon Rios vs Mike Alvarado fight was everything a fight fan could ask for.
It was scheduled for 10 rounds; however, seven rounds was all that Brandon needed to finally wear down the very equally-gamed warrior Alvarado, who traded big bombs back and forth with the Oxnard fighter known as "Bam Bam" for virtually the entire fight.
I had the honor of seeing the fight live at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and I had my laptop on my lap desperately trying to live blog the fight, but due to technical difficulties, I was not able to get the live blog going until the middle of the fifth round.
Obviously, I was rather disappointed that the WiFi was not working and that I could not do my live blog from the beginning of Round 1, but until the Home Depot Center tech. support finally resolved the WiFi issue in that fifth round, I was just watching a really great fight take place right before my eyes, where both Rios and Alvarado did what they do best, and that is fight toe-to-toe and throw numerous punches with bad intentions.
Had I not had the technical difficulties, I'm not even sure if I would be able to first believe what my eyes saw, comprehend what just happened and tried to explain it on the fly in my live blog?
I still have only seen the fight once, and that was live in person, but from what I saw that night, it seemed like Alvarado was the fighter who was more comfortable from the start, throwing the cleaner, more precise punches to Brandon's shots that seemed to be thrown with the purpose of opening up Mike's guard to land more.
Mike seemed to win the majority of the rounds by outpointing Rios, coming in with multiple combinations that even included several uppercuts, but for whatever reason, Brandon seemed not hurt and kept coming at him all night.
Rios would also seem to focus more on stealing the round at the final 30 seconds, or even the final 10 seconds before the bell.
It seemed, at least to me, that Alvarado was winning the fight, for he was winning the majority of the rounds, landing the cleaner punches, but Rios appeared to be hurting him more and more with his punches.
Going into the seventh round, I had Alvarado up by at least two or three rounds, but of course, that does not matter since Rios ultimately scored the TKO stoppage at 1:57 of the seventh round in a stoppage that many fans in attendance booed.
When referee Pat Russell was being interviewed by Max Kellerman on why he stopped the fight when he did, many of the fans at the Home Depot Center were booing his image alone on the jumbotron screen. This was obviously evidence of their disapproval of the stoppage.
There were several moments throughout this fight that the packed Home Depot Center were screaming, whistling and even jumping to their feet in sheer excitement for all the action that Rios vs Alvarado produced in entertainment value for them.
The last time I was at a fight this good was, well, it was at Brandon's last fight at Home Depot Center back in 2011, when he fought Urbano Antillon in a brutal war very much like this one, where it only took Brandon three rounds to knock Urbano out in a fight where they too traded big bombs nonstop for all three rounds.
Saturday night, there were numerous times where fans were even shouting out "Gatti!" or "Gatti vs Ward!" or "He's the next Gatti!", comparing Brandon Rios to the late great Arturo Gatti who won over legions of fans with his exciting fight style and displaying true heart inside the ring.
But this comparison to Gatti also triggered another comparison to Manny Pacquiao, who, in the prime of his career, also became famous for entertaining the masses with his exciting fighting style.
Unfortunately, these days, we have a bit of a different Manny Pacquiao who seems to have just way too much on his plate, and it seems he has his heart and mind focused in numerous endeavors outside of the ring? That may be preventing him from giving the sensational performances that made him who he is.
There is always that question of who will be the next Manny Pacquiao, or at least fill the Pacquiao void once Manny retires for good from the sport.
It seems so far, Brandon Rios is the one of the very few who may be able to do that.
In fact, immediately after the fight, Max Kellerman even brought up that should Manny Pacquiao beat Juan Manuel Marquez in December, that Top Rank is looking to have Rios fight Pacquiao next.
Should Manny Pacquiao fight Brandon Rios next, it would be viewed to many who understand the business of the sport of boxing to be a "passing of the torch" fight.
Kind of like how towards the end of Oscar De La Hoya's career, many of his final opponents were also "passing of the torch" fights, where those opponent went on to become the next big star of boxing.
Some may even argue with a theory that Tim Bradley was supposedly the winner of a "passing of the torch" fight when he shockingly upset Pacquiao last June in a highly controversial win, but if that were indeed the case, then that plan seemed to have backfired completely, seeing his win over Pacquiao hurt his career more than it helped to promote it.
So fight fans, can Brandon Rios be the next Manny Pacquiao? Or at least help fill that void once Pacquiao retires for good?
It seems as if Pacquiao is already viewing retirement, as his other ambitious goals such as politics are taking priority over his training, and full-time dedication to the sport of boxing and history has shown us time and time again that usually, a hungry young lion will eventually one day triumph over the old lion king that no longer loves being king of the jungle.
King J is the Bleacher Report Boxing Community Leader and a Featured Columnist.
Follow on Twitter: @KingJ323
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