By Chris Robinson
When the Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado bout became official, I just so happened to be next to Rios’ stable mate and friend Mikey Garcia inside of the Texas Station Hotel and Casino out in Las Vegas.
Having put in his share of rounds with Rios over the past few years, Garcia instantly tabbed ‘Bam Bam’ to pull out the victory.
“It’s going to be a great fight for the fans,” Garcia, a featherweight contender (29-0, 25 KO’s) fighting out of Riverside, Calif. would state. “I think Brandon will obviously win. I think he’s a better fighter than Mike. I think his strength will be what is going to change the fight. Brandon’s relentless; doesn’t stop.”
On Oct. 13, Rios and Alvarado engaged in one of the more punishing scraps in recent memory, with Brandon scoring a 7th round TKO victory inside of the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Alvarado had his share of success but Rios was completely in his element for much of the contest, as he wailed away in the trenches while chopping away at his opponent.
“The fight was going to be hard for anybody,” Garcia would tell me on Monday afternoon, prior to going ten rounds of sparring at the Summit Gym in Big Bear. “I felt that Brandon always picks up the pace as the rounds go by. I sparred with him before, so I know that he picks up the pace as the fight goes on.
“I felt that Brandon would do that, and also, not having to cut that extra weight would help him be strong throughout the entire night,” Garcia added of Rios, who officially moved up to the junior welterweight class for the Alvarado meeting. “That’s exactly what happened. When he did hurt Alvarado, he was able to finish him, because he still did have the strength in him and he was also able to withstand some of those big punches by Alvarado.”
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who promotes Rios, mentioned before the Alvarado encounter that he would be considering putting the winner in with Manny Pacquiao in the first half of 2013, regardless of whether the Filipino icon emerges victorious from his fourth encounter with Juan Manuel Marquez on December 8th.
And while Rios would be a heavy underdog heading into such a fight, Garcia feels it is time to see Pacquiao in with a relentless bruiser such as Brandon.
“Brandon’s young, hungry, strong,” said Garcia. “I think it’s about time somebody like him is put to the test with someone like Manny. Manny, not to say anything about him or anything bad, he’s been one of the best fighters of the past decade, but I think everybody wants to see something different. He hasn’t fought anybody that young, that hungry, and I think Brandon is the guy to do it.”
Garcia pointed out that Rios’ fortitude and ability to withstand punishment would be essential in a Pacquiao clash.
“You can see, he can take a punch,” Garcia said of Rios. “Brandon can definitely take a punch. He’s not going to get hurt easily. He’ll keep fighting, keep coming forward, and he still carries that pop in him. He’s moving up in weight, but he was still able to hurt the bigger guy. He definitely has a shot.”