Ask almost anyone who followed boxing intently in 2012 what the fight of the year was and almost every one of them will at least name Brandon Rios (31-0, 23 KO) and Mike Alvarado’s (33-1, 23 KO) bout in their top three.
The Oct. 2012 clash was an instant classic reminiscent one of Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward’s epic battles.
Rios won the first fight by stopping Alvarado in the seventh round, but to say he was tested is the understatement of the century. Some felt the fight may have been stopped early, but I wasn’t one of them.
Alvarado wasn’t throwing any punches for an extended period, in what had already been a brutal fight. Referee Pat Russell was right to stop it when he did.
On Saturday March 30, the two men will renew acquaintances. Fans can only hope this fight even partially lives up to the standard the first fight set.
If you love boxing, you must see this fight, and here’s how you can watch.
When: Saturday, March 30 at 10:15 p.m. ET
Where: Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas
Live Stream: HBOGO (Pay Service)
The Book on Rios
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Rios could have taken another fight with another 140-pound contender that would have been an easier bout, but he is a fighter that genuinely loves wars, and that’s what the first fight with Alvarado was.
It also vastly increased both fighter’s popularity, so a rematch made sense from a money standpoint. This time, the two will not only fight for pride but to protect their impressive win-loss records.
The rematch is for the interim WBO light welterweight title. The first fight was for the WBO Latino light welterweight title, but a world title certainly adds even more importance.
Rios will almost certainly be more aggressive this time around.
He told Yahoo! Sports:
He will probably try to stay away and use his distance early, but sooner or later he will stop and trade and we will be in another war. I know he feels that the first fight was stopped early, but it was just a matter of time before I stopped him cold.
The question is, can he do it again?
In the Ring
Rios loves to stand in a phone booth and trade. That wasn’t a style that Alvarado brought out of him, he always fights that way.
He has a great chin and heart, and it helps him overcome most of his physical and fundamental deficiencies. He gets very good leverage on his punches, and he has a hard, whacking left hook.
On the flip side, he keeps his hands low, employs very little head movement and doesn’t possess a ton of foot speed.
He does cut the ring off well and brings the heat to the chest of his opponents. His style and nature banks on his opponents not being able to stand the pressure.
For the most part, that has been the case.
The Book on Alvarado
It’s in the nature of most fighters to cry foul to some degree when they are stopped by a referee’s decision. It's especially common in a competitive fight, but as I said, the stoppage in the first bout was not premature in my eyes.
But it is totally understandable that Alvarado would use that concept as motivation for the rematch.
The loss gave him the only blemish on his record, and through the early rounds it appeared he was getting the best of Rios.
It was a huge opportunity for him, and though he didn’t win, he performed at a level that has guaranteed him at least one really nice payday.
Alvarado is not an up-and-coming talent like Rios who is still just 26 years old. Alvarado is 32, and though he isn’t yet an old fighter, he’s at the age that would suggest it is time for him to reach his peak in the sport.
To do that, he must defeat Rios.
In the Ring
Alvarado is a sturdy fighter, with good punching power, but he has slow hands that make it easy to beat him to the punch.
The reason he was effective early in the first fight is because Rios isn’t fast enough to expose his weaknesses.
Many of Rios’ punches are wide, and Alvarado was having success hitting his opponent right up the middle. His mistake was allowing himself to take too much punishment early, and he wore down.
If he is to achieve a different outcome in the rematch, he needs to employ more lateral movement to change angles.
Though he may have the power to stun Rios, he may not have the pop to win a slugfest. A mixture of guts and brains is needed for victory on Saturday night.
Alvarado will win this fight by decision.
We’ll see if he’ll get the official decision, even if he does indeed out-box Rios. Richard Abril out-boxed Rios in April 2012 and was robbed in the same building, so it’ll be interesting to see.
But Alvarado should be smart enough to make the adjustments necessary to win a decision in the rematch.
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