Alvarado Gains Revenge in Thriller, Sets Up Third Match with Rios

by Kieran Mulvaney

Brandon Rios, Mike Alvarado - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

It is the job of a boxing writer to convey the sense of the action that takes place in the ring, to document the exchange of blows and the ebb and flow of a contest. But there are times when the action is so intense, the punches thrown so heavy and so numerous, the shifts in momentum so rapid and the violence so intense, when the crowd is screaming so loudly it sounds  as if a jet engine is in full throttle nearby, that all an observer can do is put his hands to his head as his jaw drops open in wordless disbelief.

That was how it was to be ringside as Mike “Mile High” Alvarado and Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios took turns to bludgeon each other to the precipice of unconsciousness, each man administering to the other a savage beating and yet both combatants somehow surviving to remain standing at the end of twelve rounds that left only one question hanging in the air:

When will there be a Rios-Alvarado III?

Rios, Alvarado Make Weight, Joke, Taunt

by Kieran Mulvaney


Brandon Rios looked slightly nervous.

Not of his opponent – Rios, more than most boxers, is the kind of fighter who gives the impression he would walk through a hail of bullets to land a few blows on an opponent’s jaw – but of his own body. Having struggled to make weight for a lightweight title defense against John Murray in New York in December 2011 (a struggle memorably captured on HBO’s 2 Days – Portrait of a Fighter), he failed to make the 135 lb weight limit altogether in his next outing, losing the belt on the scale and putting forth a lethargic effort in a controversial split decision win over Richar Abril.

He looked rejuvenated in his subsequent bout, his first in the junior welterweight division, when he stopped Mike Alvarado in the seventh round to end the Colorado fighter’s unbeaten record in a battle that, until Juan Manuel Marquez left Manny Pacquiao face-down and unconscious in Las Vegas last December, was the clubhouse leader for 2012’s Fight of the Year.

But already, on the eve of Saturday’s rematch with Alvarado, the proverbial word on the street was that Rios was now fighting a losing battle to stay within the 140 lb confines of his new weight division, and that a trip to welterweight – the domain of Pacquiao, Marquez and Timothy Bradley – awaited. And indeed, as Rios stepped on the scale at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Friday afternoon, it was with a look of apprehension on his face, a look that appeared justified when his weight was read out.

140.5 pounds. Half a pound over the limit. He would have to go away and lose the extra seven ounces, unless …

Rios stripped off his underwear and took his place on the scale again, his modesty protected by a towel and members of his entourage. Apparently, boxer briefs are made of serious material in Oxnard, because in an instant he was on weight and looking relaxed and ready.

Fighters who go to war in a ring can end up despising each other or greatly liking and admiring each other for what they have been through together; if the reaction of Rios and Alvarado after both made weight was anything to go by, the two men clearly fall into the latter camp. They joked around, they smiled, they shook hands, they hugged, and they mugged for the fans – theirs and their opponent’s.

“303! 303!” chanted Alvarado’s supporters, shouting the Denver area code that precedes his (and, presumably, most of their) seven-digit phone number.

Rios, leading a cry in response of “805! 805!”, because showing area code pride is the thing the kids do these days, displayed his middle finger to the Alvarado fans– but he did so with a smile because “I love it when they f*** with me.”

“Is the rematch going to be another war?” he is asked.

“Of course it’s going to be a war,” he replied, before slightly changing his tune. “I don’t give a f***. Fight, box, whatever.”

Alvarado, who gave almost as good as he got before finally succumbing in their first contest, has made it plain which strategy he prefers.

“I’ll box 100 rounds if I have to,” he said before leaving the stage.

He managed to box (and brawl) for six and a half rounds before the freight train that is Brandon Rios finally ran him over in October.  Unless he is the one who finds a way to finish the night early on Saturday, he’ll need to find another five and a half rounds from somewhere, which won’t be easy: whether or not this is already the last time we’ll see Rios at 140 lbs., rest assured he’ll be out to make it as memorable as the first.

Reliving Rios-Alvarado I, Round-By-Round

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.)

ROUND 1:

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.

ROUND 2:

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.

ROUND 3:

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.

ROUND 4:

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.

ROUND 5:

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.

ROUND 6:

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.

ROUND 7:

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.

CompuBox Analysis: Rios vs. Alvarado II

by CompuBox

Like the first Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward fight, last October's meeting between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado managed to exceed the already high standards set for it. For seven pulsating rounds they went hammer and tong and only a curiously timed stoppage by referee Pat Russell was able to stop the torrent of blows.

That controversy, combined with the incredible action that preceded it, made Saturday's second act a natural. Rematches can sometimes live up to the original but they also can suffer by comparison. Which slot will Rios-Alvarado II occupy? Their recent CompuBox histories offer the following clues:

The Ultimate Slugfest: Their October 13 classic was a punch-fest of the highest order. Over six-and-two-thirds rounds Rios averaged 81.4 punches per round but Alvarado more than trumped him by unleashing 117.1 per round -- nearly double the junior welterweight average of 60.4.

Read the Complete Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II CompuBox Analysis at HBO.com.

Rios-Alvarado: Rinse, Repeat, Recoil, Rejoice

by Eric Raskin


For all the spine-tingling, skull-rattling moments Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado provided while standing inches apart last October for seven insta-classic rounds, arguably the most memorable moment of all came with them positioned some 28 feet apart, seated on stools in their respective corners. After the first round of their junior welterweight brawl, Rios said something in Spanish that was hard to make out but, based on context clues, translated along the lines of “I [bleeping] love this.” And his trainer Robert Garcia responded clearly in English, “I know you [bleeping] love this.”

People who choose to trade punches for a living are wired a little differently than most of us. But even among professional boxers, Rios and Alvarado stand out as having a different kind of blood pumping through their brains. Like Rocky Graziano, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Arturo Gatti, Erik Morales, and the rest of boxing’s all-time elite action fighters, Rios and Alvarado have not just a crazy willingness to get hit, but a sick sense of emptiness if they aren’t taking one to give one.

So as the March 30 date for Rios vs. Alvarado II closes in, let’s sum up the outlook for this highly anticipated rematch in seven words: These guys can’t make a bad fight.

Read the Complete Rios vs. Alvarado II Fight Overview on HBO.com.