Brandon Rios, the former WBA lightweight titleholder, stepped up in weight class last month and fought what was supposed to be the toughest fight of his career when he faced undefeated junior welterweight Mike Alvarado.
The Alvarado vs. Rios matchup was touted by many leading up to the fight as a potential fight of the year candidate and it didn’t disappoint. The two men engaged in a Gatti-Ward style slugfest that saw both men land huge shots.
When the dust finally settled on Oct. 13, Rios (31-0-1, 23KOs) was victorious, scoring a seventh-round TKO over the previously undefeated Alvarado.
Since the win there has been talk about Rios facing the winner of next month's Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez matchup.
Recently, the WBO ordered a fight between Rios and Ruslan Provodnikov for the organization's newly vacant junior welterweight title.
While Rios says he’s not opposed to fighting the little known Russian, he has his sights set on bigger targets.
“If my manager Cameron Dunkin and Robert (Garcia) and my promoter Bob Arum can make the fight happen with the winner out of Pacquiao and Marquez, why fight this guy? But if they can’t make it happen, why not? I’ll fight the guy,” Rios said.
While all three fights between Pacquiao and Marquez have been close and had controversial outcomes, the outspoken fighter believes this time things will be different.
“It’s going to be a good fight. Obviously Marquez has proven in the last fight that he had won, but Pacquiao is going to want to make a statement. I think Pacquiao is going to be victorious and I think he’s going to go for a knockout,” Rios said.
If the Filipino slugger is victorious, a fight with Rios would most likely take place in April 2013 and would see Rios once again move up in weight to the welterweight division.
“If they want me to fight at 147, honestly I will fight at 147, it doesn’t bother me,” Rios said. “I took a hard test at 140 and I passed it and I think 147 will be the same way."
Rios issues with making weight have been well documented and he feels that affected his ability to perform in his last few fights in the lightweight division.
“I felt comfortable at 140. When I fought (Richard) Abril and John Murray I wasn’t at my best, I was just training to make weight,” Rios said.
Moving up in weight could be to his advantage, according to Rios, since he could concentrate on honing his craft and not draining his body to make weight.
“When I train and I make my weight comfortably then they see a whole different person in the ring. They see an animal," Rios said, adding that a "beast" came out when he fought Anthony Peterson at a comfortable 135 and then Miguel Acosta and Urbano Antillon.
In those fights Rios made weight without difficulty and because of that was able to take "those guys out like it wasn’t nothing,” Rios said.
Most boxing fans are hoping for a Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather showdown in the spring, but that fight has little to no chance of happening anytime soon. A fight with Rios would pit the Filipino against a young and hungry fighter who feels he is up to the task.
Who should Rios fight next?
The fight wouldn’t be easy in his eyes, but he does feel that he would eventually get his man and might just take him out.
“The first couple of rounds would be hard but I would make my adjustments and I’d bring him down,” Rios said.
“It’s like chopping a tree down. It takes time to chop a tree down but once you get past that first step, then it starts falling down easier and easier. Round-by-round it starts falling down until he’s out of there.”
Pacquiao isn’t the only fighter that he has his sights set on. Rios feels that his come-forward-take-no-prisoners style would also be tough for boxing’s pound-for-pound Picasso, Floyd Mayweather Jr., to handle.
“Those are the guys I want—Pacquiao and Mayweather. I think I can give everybody problems,” Rios said.
“When I am 100 percent and I make my weight comfortably I can give anybody problems. I am a threat and everybody knows that. I think my style could give Mayweather problems.”
A fight with Mayweather will be hard to make due to the ongoing cold war between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions who work with sport's biggest draw.
Danny Garcia, who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and the current WBA Super, WBC & Ring Magazine super lightweight champion, is a fight the Southern California by way of Kansas fighter would love to make and is one he is confident he would win.
“Danny Garcia is holding what I want, I want that WBC (title). That’s what he has and I want it,” Rios said. “I am 100 percent sure that I can knock out Danny Garcia.”
I just want to be the next Mexican-American to hold one of those titles.”
A fight with Garcia is something that HBO or Showtime executives would salivate over, not for just what would potentially happen in the ring but because the press conferences and pre-fight buildup would be almost as entertaining.
While his fight with Alvarado could very well win fight of the year Rios feels that a fight with Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse, another Golden Boy fighter, would be even better.
“I think me and Lucas Matthysse would be fight of the decade. I think me and Lucas Matthysse would take it to a different level,” Rios said. “Lucas Matthysse I would love to fight him.”
A fight with the hard punching Matthysse would certainly be a war and one that the fans would love but too many fights like that could cut his career short.
“Chavez had a 120 something fights and a lot of wars, why can’t I do that? What’s the difference between me and him?” Rios asked. “However long Julio Cesar Chavez could do it, I could do it.”
While Rios is certainly no Pernell Whitaker, he thinks that his defensive skills are severely underrated by the boxing media.
“I don’t get hit as much as people think I do. It’s not like they hit me flush and all those shots land,” Rios said. “I have great techniques when I am inside. I avoid shots, I use my shoulders, I roll shots, I block them with my gloves and shots don’t land.”
Rios understands that prizefighting is his chosen profession but for him it’s more about the challenge than the prize. He wants to give the fans their money's worth and if he makes a little bit of money doing it, that’s just the icing on the cake for him.
“I got guts, I got balls, I love to fight, I love to test my will. It’s not about the payday, I love what I do and I want to take each and everyone out,” Rios said
“When my fans pay $69.99 for a pay-per-view fight they are going to get that $69.99 worth when the watch me. I always appreciate it and I always fight for the fans," he said.
"I am real. I don’t fake the funk and try to be somebody I am not and the fans love it and I love my fans.”
Michael Walters is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.