Photo by Chris Farina / Top Rank
The much anticipated rematch between ring warriors; Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios (31-0 w/23 KOs) and “Mile High” Mike Alvarado (33-1 w/23 KOs), is finally upon us this weekend and thankfully without the long, grueling and drawn out wait which normally accompanies most high-profile rematches. The first chapter of this already thrilling saga came to fruition this past fall in Carson, California at the ever popular Home Depot Center. There, then unbeaten “Mile High” Alvarado violently welcomed the undefeated “Bam Bam” Rios into his first ever outing inside the crowded & talented waters known as the junior welterweight division. A weight class home to superstars like Danny Garcia, Amir Khan, Lamont Peterson, Zab Judah and Lucas Matthysse. That brisk October night was billed as a legitimate scrap by knowledgeable fight aficionados but, once it materialized, the live attendees and lucky TV viewers that evening knew that they witnessed the birth of something very memorable. The duo of 140-pound combatants found one another minute after minute trading hard and vicious shots at close range from the opening bell all the way up to the bout’s conclusion in the 7th round. For every clean shot that Alvarado landed, Rios would give 2 in return. For every 2 that Rios connected with, Alvarado felt obligated to unload a 3 or 4-punch combination in order to rattle his foe’s body or snap his head back.
The action was non-stop as both 140 lb stand outs swung for the fences at close quarters in the middle of the ring or followed one another exchanging punishment in a brutally orchestrated waltz inside the squared circle. Alvarado seemed to have a slight edge on the score cards and gave just as good as he got round after round of the savagely beautiful contest. The wear and tear of such a rugged affair eventually showed its marks around the 5th and 6th rounds since both men developed swelling around their eyes and showed bruising on their faces. During that crucial 6th round nonetheless, the tide turned when Rios connected clean on Alvarado with an over hand right hand, partially stunning the tough as nails boxer about midway into the stanza. The Colorado native survived the assault but his adversary smelled blood and Rios went for the kill in the 7th round. He looked the fresher of the two men and walked Alvarado down blasting him with clean punches sending the brave soul staggering backwards along the ropes. A few more Rios’ punches connected before referee Pat Russell jumped in to waive off the fight and prevent any further punishment to Alvarado, handing him his first ever professional loss.
The match dominated the remaining month of October and November as a sure bet for “Fight of The Year” candidate. Even though a couple of future Hall of Fame welterweights took the number 1 spot thanks to their 5th meeting that December, Rios vs. Alvarado remains at worst, the number 2 or 3 “Fight of The Year” in 2012. With that in mind, will we get to see a repeat of the battle considered to be in the caliber of the epic Gatti vs. Ward trilogy, the Castillo vs. Corrales classics, or the timeless Barrera vs. Morales encounters? These types of wars are few and far between for a reason; no man is ever the same afterwards. Both warriors are young and in their prime and are unfortunately burdened with the task of carrying out such a demanding task for the public yet, neither of them see it that way being in great spirits leading up to their second chapter and brush the notion as something bothersome but like the true, dedicated athletes that they are, welcome the opportunity to step into the ring to capture further boxing glory. Maybe fans can get spoiled two years in a row come March 30th at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas when these two meet again.
How overwhelming will Alvarado’s desire for revenge be this weekend in Las Vegas following the only tarnish to his once unblemished record 5 months ago? A popular prediction of their first match called for “Mile High” Mike to out box his opponent en-route to a points victory, specially since the fight was scheduled for 10 rounds. Slightly ahead on some analyst’s score cards before the 7th round stoppage, hypothetically all Alvarado needed to so was grind it out with the same rate of success for the next 9 minutes and victory was reasonably within grasp. So, the burning question remains: had Alvarado not gotten caught, would he have gotten a fair shake in California? Ironically enough, as much as the coveted “O” or undefeated streak has recently shot through the roof in boxing like shares of Microsoft stock as a way to leverage better marketing, PPV deals and contract negotiations, that option is completely gone for one man in the ring this Saturday. Does that make Alvarado more dangerous and his Oxnard, California resident opponent more vulnerable? Now that the fear of not being perfect has dissolved from Alvarado’s thought process, does this grant him peace of mind knowing that the hardest outcome has already surfaced and revenge thus turns into the ultimate remedy for mental focus?
Redemption might serve as both a blessing and a curse this weekend in the Nevada desert when Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado collide in the ring again, this time for the Interim WBO light welterweight title. The scheduled 12-round bout may very well require the judges if Alvarado chooses to box his foe , thus setting up a trilogy incidentally short changing fans of another anticipated war. No one could blame Mike though since that outcome would guarantee a trilogy which equates to more money and the ultimate revenge if he could KO Rios in the 3rd chapter. Rios on the other hand can redeem his stoppage triumph over Alvarado since some supporters of the Colorado fighter felt their man could have continued on in spite the onslaught of the 7th round. Referee Tony Weeks was hand-picked for the rematch so his respected ring experience will fit right in if a credible source needs to determine if a fight should continue or not, specially in the realm of this weekend’s.
No matter what happens when the junior welterweights renew their rivalry, fights fans will reap the rewards on Saturday night. Both men didn’t move up in weight following their first encounter or disagree on the site, size of gloves or other random excuses to avoid fighting one another. There weren’t issues whatsoever just like there won’t be issues with them coming forward full throttle in search of action or going straight towards one another with reckless intent. The Interim WBO title is on the line as they headline at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, but fans casual and hardcore know that these two will give one of the best performances this weekend even if the fight was at a lesser known place or behind a bar somewhere. This is one those weekends when its great to be a fight fan and everyone involved wins knowing that real life warriors still exist and carry the tradition known world wide as, “the sweet science”.