by Eric Raskin
One is a perfect gentleman, the other a foul-mouthed troublemaker. One is a slick speed demon, the other a rough-and-tumble brawler. You can be forgiven for thinking that Nonito Donaire and Brandon Rios don’t have a whole lot in common.
But they are united by ambition and upward trajectory. Neither Donaire nor Rios is interested in maintaining his status quo. They’re both expanding -- quite literally by rising up the weight scale, and figuratively by taking the steps necessary to the increase their fan bases and the thickness of their wallets.
And Donaire and Rios will next be demonstrating those various ambitions in the same ring (at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA) on the same night (October 13) with the same trainer (Robert Garcia) working double duty. What makes this one of the year’s hottest fight cards is that even though Donaire and Rios are the clear promotional “A-sides” in their respective halves of the doubleheader, they are not clear favorites to win. These are not “showcase” fights for two ascendant stars. Donaire faces Toshiaki Nishioka, the most established belt-holder in the junior featherweight division, and Rios takes on Mike Alvarado, who is undefeated in 33 pro fights and coming off back-to-back Fight of the Year candidates.
How do you increase your fan base and the thickness of your wallet? By taking fights like these.