Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II: Head-to-Toe Breakdown
In their first bout, Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs) and Mike “Mile High” Alvarado (33-1, 23 KO’s) fought in one of the most action-packed boxing fights of 2012. On March 30, 2013 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV, both warriors will step into the ring once again for a highly anticipated rematch.
Both fighters threw caution to the wind and exchanged bombs for six-plus rounds in their 2012 classic bout, until Rios landed a barrage of consecutive punches which prompted referee Pat Russell to stop the fight in Round 7.
After a short layoff, both fighters are anxious to get back into the ring against one another. With four key categories in mind, let’s break down Brandon Rios versus Mike Alvarado II.
Mike Alvarado is a good boxer-puncher who possesses the gifts to win fights from the inside and outside. Alvarado usually elects to mix it up a lot on the inside—such as his fights with Carlos Molina and Breidis Prescott—but he would be smart to try and create space versus Rios and use more angles.
Nick Groke of The Denver Post recently announced that Alvarado has added veteran trainer Rudy Hernandez as a full-time training assistant alongside longtime trainer Shann Vilhauer. Though Alvarado has said that he plans on fighting Rios the same way in the second fight (per Fred Sternburg of Eastsideboxing.com), the addition of Hernandez obviously shows that Mile High’s team is looking to rely more on his outside boxing ability.
During the telecast of the first fight, Jim Lampley quoted Brandon Rios as saying that while he can box, doing so bores him. This is what makes Rios so exciting to watch, but also makes him a one-dimensional fighter. Rios does use the jab sparingly, but he’s obviously more comfortable in toe-to-toe brawls.
Like his war with Alvarado, Rios showed that he does not need much room to get off shots versus Urbano Antillon and Miguel Acosta. The power jab is the closest thing to boxing that Rios does and even that is done to close the gap, not create distance. Up close and personal is how Rios wants to fight.
Advantage: Alvarado. Though he doesn't always elect to use it, Alvarado has the better boxing ability. His biggest problem in the first fight versus Brandon Rios was that he fell into the trap of brawling on the inside.
Mike Alvarado has good power with 23 knockouts in 34 fights. He has six first-round knockouts, but the majority of those KOs came at the beginning of his career.
One of his most impressive showings came against Breidis Prescott. Alvarado was down on the official scorecards going into the final round and was able to stop the hard-hitting Colombian via TKO in Round 10.
Brandon Rios has big punching power and epitomizes the swarming offensive style. Like Alvarado, he is a big fan of the uppercut and also has 23 knockouts in his career.
While Rios does not possess one-punch knockout power, he is known for landing powerful combinations and wearing his opponents down. Fights against Urbano Antillon and Miguel Acosta prove this point well.
Advantage: Rios. While it can be argued that this category should be even, the first fight proved that Rios was able to handle Alvarado's power a bit better. Alvarado shouldn't look to prove that he is the stronger fighter in the rematch. Instead, he should look to prove that he is the smarter boxer.
After Round 1 of their first fight, Mike Alvarado’s trainer—Shann Vilhauer—told his fighter that the shoulder roll was not working and that he needed to step around Rios’ attacks. Alvarado didn’t do a good job of stepping around and got caught in too many heavy exchanges.
Alvarado has shown good defensive technique in previous fights, slipping punches while tucking his chin behind his shoulder.
Brandon Rios has good reflexes and quickness, which at times allows him to slip punches and counter effectively. But overall, Rios eats way too many clean shots to be considered a defensively sound fighter. We’ve seen Rios employ the same tactics time and time again against Miguel Acosta, Urbano Antillon, John Murray and Richard Abril.
As a spectator, you just have to come to terms with the fact that Rios will not wow you with spectacular defense. At the end of the day, Rios’ take-two-punches-to-give-one-back style is his best defense.
Advantage: Alvarado. While both fighters can be found and hit cleanly, Rios seems to take the biggest shots his opponent can dish out during every fight. It hasn’t been too detrimental to Rios up to this point, because he seems to get energized with each shot he takes and always comes out with the win.
Mike Alvarado has spoken out a few times after the Rios fight, saying that he didn't agree with referee Pat Russell's stoppage in Round 7. The fact that Alvarado was getting hit with a number of clean shots and not throwing back is justification enough for Russell to have stopped the fight.
Alvarado should be glad to know that Tony Weeks will be the third man in the ring for his rematch with Brandon Rios. As many folks may remember, Weeks was the referee for the first classic war between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, so he is no stranger to all-action brawls.
Advantage: Even. Tony Weeks is a class act and should give both men the ability to work their own game plans. Week is definitely a good choice for what surely will be a high-action fight.
Both men have shown tremendous heart throughout their careers. Brandon Rios has shown his heart versus the likes of Miguel Acosta, Urbano Antillon and Mike Alvarado, while Alvarado has shown it versus Breidis Prescott, Mauricio Herrera and of course, Brandon Rios.
On March 30, we will likely once again get a firsthand look at what determination and heart truly looks like in the ring.
Alvarado needs to remember that boxing intelligently does not downgrade his toughness or heart. To win the rematch, he simply can’t afford to trade with Rios like he did in the first matchup.
Advantage: Even. It’s obvious that both Rios and Alvarado are warriors with endless amounts of heart.
Shann Vilhauer has been with Mike Alvarado since the beginning of his career. Although the importance of that bond can't be measured, Vilhauer definitely knows Alvarado better than anyone.
Before the first fight between Rios and Alvarado, Vilhauer spoke about Alvarado's underrated ability to box (per Ryan Burton of Boxingscene.com). It would definitely be in Alvarado's best interest to follow a boxing blueprint this time around.
Robert Garcia was voted the 2012 Trainer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has the accolades and stable of fighters to be considered one of the best trainers in the sport.
Rios is one of Garcia’s star pupils and the two have a longstanding relationship. Garcia knows how far Rios can be pushed, which is important considering the bombs he's hit with during fights.
Advantage: Rios. While both men have a close relationship with their trainers, Garcia has the higher profile and was a world champion himself.
For Mike Alvarado to stand a serious chance versus Brandon Rios, he needs to box. He needs to show Rios angles and make life easier for himself by jabbing effectively and maintaining a distance. He may try to follow the same box first blueprint he had going into the first fight, but ultimately his warrior mentality will kick in and a serious fight will break out.
For Brandon Rios, this will be another day at the office. He will stalk Alvarado from the beginning of Round 1 and most likely take some big shots on the way. It will only be a matter of time before he hits Alvarado with a good punch to get the ball rolling as Alvarado dismisses his game plan.
After the phone booth-style fight breaks out, Rios will wear Alvarado down en-route to a mid-round stoppage.
Prediction: Rios by KO in Round 6.
Brandon Rios versus Mike Alvarado II
Where: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, NV
When: Saturday, March 30, 2013, 10:15 p.m. ET
Khabib Allakhverdiev was forced to withdraw from his bout with Breidis Prescott due to injury.