by Cliff Rold
This era is lucky to have Brandon Rios. Brandon Rios is unlucky to fight in this era.
A month shy of 27, Rios fought only twice last year and may settle at that total again this year. For a fighter with his style, the window to make his mark is narrower in terms of time. There is only so much of it to see him against as many of the top lights of his day as possible while he can bring the A-game he possesses now.
But, hey, we get two in a row with Alvarado. It’s a hell of a bird in the hand.
Let’s go to the report cards.
Titles/Previous Titles: WBA Lightweight (2012, 1 Defense)
Weight: 140 lbs.
Hails from: Oxnard, California
Record: 31-0-1, 23 KO
Rankings: #4 (BoxRec, SecondsOut); #5 (Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, BoxingScene) #6 (ESPN, Ring)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 2 (Miguel Acosta TKO10; Richar Abril SD12)
Titles/Previous Titles: None
Hails from: Denver, Colorado
Record: 33-1, 23 KO, 1 KOBY
Rankings: #7 (SecondsOut, ESPN); #8 (TBRB, BoxingScene, Ring); #9 (BoxRec)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 2 (Cesar Bazan KO4; Brandon Rios TKO7)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Rios B; Alvarado B
Pre-Fight: Power – Rios A; Alvarado B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Rios C; Alvarado B-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Rios A; Alvarado A
Anyone reading here probably saw the first fight. Why would anyone expect much different this time? Mike Alvarado knows he needs to box more. Rios has the advantage inside. The problem is that Alvarado, even boxing well, will be hit.
And when he gets hit, he fights. Rios hits hard and makes it impossible not to send the mind searching for instinct. That both of these guys resort to instinct is why the sequel is almost as anticipated as the original. Chances are, we saw the best version of this one last time.
There are some who feel it may have been stopped a smidge early. If they were right, it could play out here. Alvarado was in stark trouble when the first fight was waved off, but as many have pointed out he wasn’t in the same trouble Timothy Bradley appeared to be in multiple times two weeks ago versus Ruslan Provodnikov. This time, the sentiment lingering from the first fight could buy extra time in a pinch.
That might set the stage for the sort of escalation the first fight was building towards. Very few fights have the sort of crescendo a Corrales-Castillo or Gatti-Ward do. Rios-Alvarado I almost got there last time. It’s not impossible it could happen this time around. Fight fans can recall, in recent vintage, the turnaround of fortunes in the first Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez from first to second fights as a point of hope.
Typically though, rematches of brutal brawls go the same way the second time and often shorter. Alvarado is 32 and makes for rugged fights regularly. He picked up a lot of miles the first time around and didn’t get any younger.
The stakes are certainly high, but if we get another good fight the loser may not be punished too harshly. The winner could be in line for Bradley, Manny Pacquiao, or Juan Manuel Marquez depending on how things go. The loser may end up with one of them too, or Provodnikov. While this fight is at 140 lbs., chances are both men will be Welterweights sooner than later. Almost all of the Jr. Welterweight division is controlled by Golden Boy Promotions.
Rios and Alvarado are with Top Rank. Their fortunes will be made at 147 lbs. after this Saturday.
Rios is going to win again. It might happen faster this time, and for the same reasons present in the first. 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.” The pick is Rios by stoppage; let’s say six again.
Report Card Picks 2013: 7-6
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]