By Rick Reeno
Top Rank's CEO Bob Arum was amazed with the high stakes drama which engulfed the violent seven round slugfest between junior welterweights Brandon Rios (31-0-1, 23KOs) and Mike Alvarado (33-1, 23KOs).
After six rounds of back and forth fireworks at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Rios was able to hurt Alvarado with a hard right hand in seventh round, and then he finished him off a moment later when referee Pat Russell jumped in to prevent Alvarado from taking further punishment.
"Going in, I figured that it would be a tremendous, tremendous fight because of the styles of the two guys. Sometimes when you figure that it's a great fight, it turns out not to be so great. This really exceeded what I really thought. These two guys stood in the center of the ring, they didn't clinch once and threw every punch they had at each other. And until one guy went down, the referee stopped the fight, you didn't know who was going to win. At one point, I turned around and said 'geez, Alvarado is coming on like he's going to win,' and then Rios comes on. That was really a classic, great fight," Arum said.
With over forty years of promotional expertise, Arum has put together many of the historical classics - including the 2005 lightweight war between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo - where Corrales was dropped twice in the tenth round and appeared to be on the verge of being knocked out, but then came from behind to stop Castillo in the final minute of the same round. Putting the amazing tenth round aside, Arum felt the war between Rios and Alvarado was a better fight than Corrales-Castillo I.
"I really think that it was better than Corrales-Castillo fight - the last round notwithstanding, which was the most incredible round that you've ever seen. With Castillo and Corrales - one guy would win a round and then the other guy would win a round. Here, one guy would win the first minute, the other guy would win the second minute and you didn't really know how to score the fight," Arum said.
Among the thousands of fights that Arum has promoted, he places Rios-Alvarado up there with the best of the best.
"I put that right up with Ali-Frazier, the third fight....the one in Manila...[I put it up there] with Hagler-Hearns, and right up with those fights. It was definitely the fight of the year. How can it not be?," Arum said.
Besides the fight living up to the hype [and then some], Arum was very excited with Rios' impressive showing after a near disaster performance in April, which saw Rios win a controversial split decision over Richard Abril at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The veteran promoter credits the move to junior welterweight for Rios' energized performance. Against Abril, and John Murray last December, Rios nearly killed himself to make the lightweight limit of 135-pounds. He failed to make weight in both contests.
"Rios had a terrible performance against Abril. I think one of the reasons was, you can't allow these people to artificially have these guys make weight when they are struggling. I remember in New York, in December, when he fought that English guy [John Murray] - where he almost died and he still couldn't make the weight. How I could have listened to them [when they said] that he could make the weight [against Abril], which he didn't make either because he was depleted. Tonight he obviously wasn't depleted - it was the real Brandon Rios," Arum said.