by Eric Raskin
Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II is as close as you get to a sure thing in boxing. But if you really don’t like to leave anything to chance, if you want the absolute surest thing imaginable … well, there’s Rios-Alvarado I. We already know what happened there. And we already know how entertaining it was.
So in preparation for Saturday’s rematch, re-watch the Oct. 13, 2012 original, and let this round-by-round guide to some of the fight’s most telling moments enhance the experience:
(Note: The time stamps below indicate the time remaining on the clock in each round.)
2:18: Less than a minute into the fight, it’s already obvious that Alvarado wants to box from a distance and Rios wants to get inside. Here, Alvarado gets his way when Rios tries to lunge in recklessly and “Mile High Mike” effectively sweeps him aside with a right hand and maintains his spacing.
1:28: If you were able to sit through Rios’ ugly fight with Richard Abril that preceded this one, you remember him spending a lot of time throwing left hooks from an odd angle in close, with his body positioned mostly outside his opponent’s left shoulder. He tries that here against Alvarado, and though he doesn’t have the leverage to make the punch effective, he wins the exchange because he’s at an angle where Alvarado can’t do anything to him in return.
0:26: Alvarado throws a seven-punch combination, and Rios blocks or slips all seven punches. Let the comparisons between Rios and Pernell Whitaker begin.
0:10: It’s “bombs away,” as Bob Papa says, for the final 10 seconds of the round, which leads to the classic exchange in Rios’ corner after the round about how much he bleeping loves this kind of warfare.
1:43: Just how one-sided is the fight when Alvarado keeps it at a distance? Watch him use several jabs to establish the spacing and then land an excellent right hand, buckling Rios’ knees ever so slightly.
0:09: Another great exchange to end the round sends Rios back to his corner with a smile on his face. Yeah, Brandon, we get it, you bleeping love this.
2:13: Give Alvarado credit for working with the openings Rios gives him. He knows he can split Rios’ high guard with the jab, and here he begins sweeping around that guard with a looping right hand that is essentially an arm punch but scores points. It is, however, a wide punch that leaves him vulnerable to counters, and Alvarado smartly stops using it after scoring a couple of times.
0:20: The crowd starts chanting “Ri-os! Ri-os!” There’s a place in boxing for the scientists, but they’ll rarely stir up the sort of passion that the sluggers can. As Rios climbs the ladder in boxing, it’s clear he’s making an emotional connection with his fans.
2:40: Alvarado uses lateral movement for the first time, and it doesn’t serve him well. He can’t move and punch at the same time, so instead Rios waits for him to pause, then pops him.
0:39: Wars of attrition are frequently decided by who commits more seriously to the body, and here Rios cracks Alvarado with his best bodyshot so far, a left hook. But if it’s headshots you like, sit back and enjoy everything from that bodyshot until the end of the round.
2:33: This is Alvarado at his best, first making an adjustment by pinning his right glove to his cheek to block Rios’ hook, then blasting Rios with a perfect right hand to the chin after establishing proper distance.
0:45: Alvarado unleashes a sick little inside combo that ping-pongs Rios’ head back and forth. But interestingly, in the midst of Alvarado’s most dominant round (in which he threw a ridiculous 147 punches), it’s Mile High Mike whose face is increasingly showing damage, particularly his swollen left eye.
0:05: Hey, what do you know, the round ends with a great exchange and Rios heads to his corner grinning from ear to ear.
1:47: Alvarado gets off some sweet shots in the midst of a close-range exchange, but it’s a losing proposition in the long run, as he’s fighting Rios’ fight. Notice how much clearer his advantage is just a few seconds later when he starts working behind the jab again.
0:35: And there it is, the big right hand from Rios that hurts Alvarado and, more or less, wins him the fight. Notice that it came immediately after Alvarado had landed some good shots and fell into the trap of exchanging at close quarters.
0:23: To Alvarado’s credit, he keeps his feet, recovers quickly, and is bombing back just a few seconds later. But he spends the final five seconds of the round retreating just enough to send the message that “Bam Bam” was looking for.
2:35: Alvarado is pumping out a busy jab, but Rios is now operating like a man who knows he just needs to be patient, wait for Alvarado to pause, and walk in and do his business.
1:15: Rios lands the right hand that makes Alvarado lurch and leads to his demise. A couple more rights and finally a big left hook prompt referee Pat Russell’s intervention, and it’s tough to argue too vehemently with the stoppage. Yes, Alvarado was on his feet and seemed capable of defending himself. Maybe Russell could have waited for another punch or two. But Alvarado’s body language suggested the fight had gone out of him. As the cliché goes, he lives to fight another day—specifically, to fight Rios again.