On Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, there will be a rematch of October’s bloody Fight-of-The-Year-caliber clash between junior welterweights Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado. Rios (31-0-1, 23 knockouts) became the first man to stop Alvarado (33-1, 23 KOs), doing so by seventh-round knockout.
Their return bout takes place in the wake of the March 16 brawl between Ruslan Provodnikov and Rios’ promotional stablemate Tim Bradley, who rose from a 12th-round knockdown to retain the WBO welterweight title he won by disputed split-decision in June over Manny Pacquiao.
Ward (38-13-1, 27 KOs) was prophetic when he told RingTV.com that he thought Rios-Alvarado could invoke memories of his classic trilogy with Gatti (40-9, 31 KOs). And after having watched Rios-Alvarado I, Ward called it “a great, great, exciting fight,” adding “I loved watching it.”
“It went back and forth. Rios would land some, Alvarado would land some. It was a great fight and I loved watching it. I think that maybe at the time that the fight was stopped, that it was either even or that Alvarado might have had a little of an edge, but not much, you know? I think that he had an edge, and that maybe he was up a round or so, but it was close,” said Ward during his assessment a few days after the fight.
“I thought Alvarado was using his jab and mixing it up early. He has a long jab and a good jab. But he just got caught. I mean, he could have used his jab to move, and to move, and to move. But that’s just not the way that he fights. He can box and punch, and I think that he could have moved a little bit more. But I think he just used his jab well when he had to use it, and then, he just stopped using it. He kind of just stood there a little flat-footed and he got caught.”
The Gatti-Ward series will be revisited in an hour-long fall presentation of HBO’s Legendary Nights: The Tale of Gatti-Ward. While there appears to be little doubt that Rios-Alvarardo will live up to the fireworks of their first clash, the questions looms whether it will produce a repeat or revenge.
Hard-hitting ex-junior welterweight beltholder Kendall Holt (28-6, 16 KOs) is a well-traveled fighter whose durability has allowed him to rebound from knockout losses to Thomas Davis, Ricardo Torres and Kaizer Mabuza in June of 2004, September of 2007, and, February of 2010, respectively.
Holt’s two, route-going losses were to Bradley and current RING, WBA and WBC 140-pound champion Danny Garcia, who owns a fourth-round knockout victory over three-belt, two-division Amir Khan from July of last year.
Holt twice dropped Bradley to the canvas before losing his WBO 140-pound title by unanimous decision in April of 2009, and fell by split-decision to Garcia in October of 2011.
But during his July 2008 rematch with Torres, who entered their return bout with a mark of 32-1 that included 29 knockouts, Holt rose from two knockdowns and scored one of his own during a 61-second bout. Holt wound up winning by stoppage victory over Torres to avenge his earlier setback and earn the WBO’s 140-pound belt.
So like he did against Torres, Holt believes Alvarado has the ability to even the score.
“Here is my answer, and I’ll just leave it at that. Rios-Alvarado, you know, that’s really just an excellent matchup and that shapes up as if it’s one of those pick-‘em fights,” said Holt. “But since Rios won, I would like to see Alvarado win the second one so that we can see a third fight.”
But Vazquez won the next two times by sixth-round stoppage and split-decision in August of 2007 and March of 2008.
Marquez evened their series at 2-2 after 28 rounds, however, as their fourth meeting ended with a third-round stoppage for Marquez in May of 2010.
As for what will actually transpire in Rios-Alvarado II, RingTV.com sought the opinions of 22 boxing insiders whose opinions are listed below.
Ricky Bordeaux, guest, Columbia, Md.
Brandon Rios TKO 10 Mike Alvarado: Brandon Rios has one of the best trainers in the business with Robert Garcia, who has shown Rios how to use his right hand with more finesse than the first fight. So this fight also could possibly end early with that in mind.
As exciting as the first fight was, I am guessing the boxing world would like to see Mike Alvarado win it so that there could be a Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado III. But I am sorry to say that will not happen. Brandon Rios wins by TKO in the 10th.
Brandon Rios TKO Mike Alvarado: Mike Alvarado had his most success in the first encounter when he was boxing, and I expect to come out jabbing and moving. Eventually, he’ll get pulled back into a slug-fest.
That’s where Brandon Rios really shines. I see Rios breaking Alvarado down en route to a stoppage win that is a good fight but not quite as entertaining as the first.
Robert Diaz, matchmaker, Golden Boy Promotions
Brandon Rios UD 12 Mike Alvarado: Brandon Rios by unanimous decision due to Mike Alvarado boxing more. I don’t expect a similar war as first fight as both will be more respectful of each other.
Alvarado was having success when boxing, so I expect him to box more. Brandon will apply the pressure as he always does. Alvarado is the bigger guy, but Rios will be faster this time and win a unanimous decision.
Brandon Rios TKO 5 Mike Alvarado: History suggests that rematches of bouts resulting in knockouts end the same way. I don’t want to bet against history.
In the first fight, the first time either man was hurt, he was done. Brandon Rios is heading into the fight knowing he can hurt Mike Alvarado. “Mile High” Mike can’t say the same. “Bam Bam” by TKO.
Brandon Rios late TKO Mike Alvarado: I’m expecting a real chess match between these two, an exhibition of skill, technique, timing and patience that will satiate the purist in us all. Just kidding!
I think Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado will go at it like mad dogs, God Bless ‘em! Alvarado will do a better job of pacing himself and keeping his distance with his jab than he did in the first fight.
But I suspect that once Rios cracks him with a really good shot, the “Slugger” in “Mile High” Mike will come raging out to the delight of us blood thirsty ghouls. I’ll always favor Rios in a battle of attrition, so I like “Bam Bam” by late stoppage.
Brandon Rios TKO 6 Mike Alvarado: I have Brandon Rios by sixth-round TKO. Rios proved to be more durable and stronger than Mike Alvarado in the first fight. It’s hard to see how any of that has changed.
At 140 pounds instead of 135, Rios has re-discovered the spontaneous energy and inexhaustible confidence that made him such a force of nature a couple of years ago.
Alvarado is as tough and resilient as anybody. But the memory of the seventh round whirlwind of punches from Rios in October’s stoppage is still as fresh and as hard to stop now as it was then.
Brandon Rios KO Mike Alvarado: Mike Alvarado admitted recently to the boxing press that he didn’t really have a game plan the first time he fought Brandon Rios. “I just fought,” said Alvarado.
The result was a brutal seventh round TKO loss mitigated only by an arguably quick stoppage from referee Pat Russell. The confession was a bombshell for believers in his boxing ability.
Even more alarming is that Alvarado sounds similarly unsure of what to do this time, less than six months later. Boxing goes against his nature, and brawling plays right into the heavy hands of “Bam Bam” Rios.
This filled out 140-pound version of Rios knows exactly what his own game plan is and how to execute it. It is to destroy Alvarado by taking his best and giving much worse in return.
That worked the first time, and unless “Mile High” Alvarado has a tactical epiphany between now and fight night, it will work again. Referee Tony Weeks lets nature take its full course. Rios by ninth-round knockout.
Brandon Rios TKO Mike Alvarado: Mike Alvarado will try to make good on his promise to box more in the rematch. But Brandon Rios’ pressure and pugnacious attitude will again draw him into a war.
And in wars Rios usually prevails. The second act likely won’t match the original but it will still be a fun watch.
Brandon Rios KO 8 Mike Alvarado: Mike Alvarado will try to box, which he did effectively at times during their first fight, throughout this bout. Inevitably, though, Brandon Rios will draw Alvarado into the same type of slug-fest we witnessed Oct. 13.
That type of brawl obviously favors the extremely resilient Rios, who will wear down a game Alvarado late in this rematch and stop him again.
Brandon Rios TKO 11 Mike Alvarado: I like Brandon Rios again. The thing about Mike Alvarado is the consensus seems to be if he boxes a little bit he can win.
But the problem with having someone box for an entire fight when they themselves usually like to slug is that eventually their boxing skills cave in to the pressure and they start to slug it out.
Eventually, Alvarado won’t be able to just keep boxing because the pressure from Rios will force him to fight. In another Fight of the Year candidate, I pick Rios by late stoppage.
Brandon Rios TKO 9 Mike Alvarado: I think we’ll see Mike Alvarado try to box a little more, which will prolong the bout. But eventually, the fans will get what they paid to see–a no-holds brawl.
Brandon Rios will again have just enough bullets in the chamber to out-slug Alvarado, who isn’t short on courage in his own right.
Mike Alvarado SD 12 Brandon Rios: Logic tells you that Brandon Rios does it again. The vast majority of first time winners win again in rematches, and that was a convincing finish first time around.
Judging from all that I am reading and hearing, I’m sure the overwhelming consensus will be Rios. However, I will be a contrarian. I think Mike Alvarado is being sold short.
At the time that first fight ended, it was still anybodys fight. Alvarado will attempt to keep this one at a more measured pace despite what will be relentless pressure by Brandon.
Both fighters are going to get their licks in, but I think this one goes the distance. Alvarado, boxing more, while still engaging, will squeeze out a tight, split decision victory, and then we can have Chapter III.
Brandon Rios KO 9 Mike Alvarado: As in their first meeting, Mike Alvarado will stay fresh early on. But the, “He’s not human” Brandon Rios will just shrug off what’s in front of him and keep on truckin,’ breaking the will of Alvarado to go on.
Brandon Rios KO 9 Mike Alvarado: Brandon Rios should emerge victorious once again in his rematch with Mike Alvarado. Looking at that first encounter, Rios took everything Alavardo could throw, seemingly lapping up the challenge.
Alvarado, on the other hand, floundered when confronted by a similar barrage. It’s hard to see what is going to change second time round — although Rios may need a few more rounds to complete the job.
Brandon Rios KO 4 Mike Alvarado: As great as a fight as this is on paper, sequels in boxing rarely meet the expectations set by their predecessor. With that being said, I expect this fight to be fun for as long as it lasts.
But it won’t last as long as it did last time. Frankly, I don’t think Mike Alvarado can do much better than he did last time. Maybe he can win a round or two more if he boxes instead of slugs.
But once it gets to that point where he chooses to fight — and it will get to that point– Brandon Rios will be all over him. Say Rios in an equally violent but shorter fight via stoppage. Rios in four
Brandon Rios TKO 8 Mike Alvarado: I have to like Brandon Rios in this one. The fact that he has a closed-door camp down in Oxnard shows how serious he is taking this clash, and and I just feel he will once again find a way to break through Mike Alvarado.
Brandon Rios KO Mike Alvarado: It might happen faster this time, and for the same reasons present in the first. Brandon Rios is the more natural, fluid fighter.
Both get hit too much, but Rios has that rare knack for being able to take two and give one until the count turns to his favor, wearing down other men through blunt force.
He won’t last forever that way, but while his prime endures, he’ll be a handful for anyone and too much for “Mile High” Mike Alvarado.
Brandon Rios KO 8 Mike Alvarado: Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado stood toe to toe, giving everything they had, and Rios emerged the dominant fighter in their first fight. I don’t see why anything will change in the rematch. Rios by eighth-round knockout.
Brandon Rios KO8 Mike Alvarado: This will be another battle, because these guys don’t know any other way. Brandon Rios is stronger.
Mike Alvarado may choose to box more this time, but eventually, he’ll get dragged into a war again. I see Rios out-slugging Alvarado in another crowd-pleasing slug-fest.
Brandon Rios W 12 Mike Alvarado: I’m going with Brandon Rios on a very hard fought and tough 12 round decision over Mike Alvarado.
Brandon Rios TKO 7 Mike Alvarado: I see Brandon Rios winning by TKO in the seventh. When a fighter wins by knockout in the first fight, I see no reason to believe we’ll see anything different in an immediate return bout.
Mike Alvarado will be dealing with the psychological factor of having thrown everything he could at Rios, only for Rios to walk through it.
Alvarado will be desperate to win because his career is on the line, but I don’t think he’ll be able to hold Rios off.
Brandon Rios TKO 7 Mike Alvarado: Look, Brandon Rios is hard-headed and hard to hurt. You hit him and hit him and he just keeps coming, wearing that half-grin, half grimace look. Mentally and physically, that has to wear you down, as it did to Mike Alvarado in their first fight. It will again Saturday.
It is likely that Alvarado will try a different approach, to box from more of a distance instead of going toe-to-toe, because he knows that kind of fight will not work. But eventually Rios will lure him into his fight, then it will just be a matter of time..
The experts convincingly choose Brandon Rios by 21-1 — including 19 by knockout — to overwhelm Mike Alvarado, yet again.
[Note: Martinez-Burgos was a draw, meaning all who selected otherwise received a loss]
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com