Five months ago Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado engaged in a war of epic proportions. It was one of those fights that shook buildings with each punch, easily shaved a couple years off of both their careers and left fans clutching their pears thanks to the sheer brutality of that bout. In that clash, Brandon Rios scored a sensational 7th round TKO of Alvarado even though “Mile High” never left his feet. Alvarado called it a premature stoppage and demanded a rematch. Rios would gladly oblige.
The rematch would happen on March 30, 2013 inside the confines of the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. And the brutality and violence would be no less wicked than the first time around. However, a much different ending would take place.
For a fighter like Rios, the saying “a tiger cannot change his stripes” was appropriate for the second encounter. Rios is a heavy handed bull that smothers his opponents and continuously clubs at them with his iron clad fists. Most opponents eventually wilt under the pressure of being slammed with punches and their body has no choice but to submit before suffering permanent damage. A gutsy fighter like Mike Alvarado learned that the hard way when they fought last October as he was stopped in the seventh round.
You see, Alvarado is one of those crowd pleasing throwback fighters that can box but will quickly flip the switch to “brawl” when threatened. Usually, all it takes is for his opponent to land a heavy shot and Alvarado throws boxing out the window and pursues his opponent like Jason Vorhees on his bloodthirsty quest for revenge. The problem in his last encounter with Rios was that “Bam Bam” was just too powerful for Alvarado to stand in the pocket and trade shots with. After throwing caution to the wind, Rios marched forward in the seventh round and clobbered a wilting Alvarado with right hooks. An ungodly roundhouse right hook did everything but disconnect Alvarado from his soul as Referee Pat Russell’s heart couldn’t take anymore and he rescued Alvarado from further abuse.
This time around, in front of what began as a rabid Rios base, Alvarado employed a different strategy. Rather than stand in the pocket and see who hits harder, the Colorado fighter deployed a jab and utilized constant movement to keep Rios off balance. Of course, Alvarado had to prove to this pro-Rios crowd that he was as gutsy as they come and traded punches once again in the early going.
The heart of Alvarado almost cost him the fight again.
After an intense first round, the second frame saw Rios smash Alvarado with a leaping jab that sent the once-beaten fighters stumbling backwards. Rather than clinch or box, Alvarado stood in the pocket and absorbed more punishment and attempted to fight his way out. The entire Mandalay Bay was on its feet — as well as the usually subdued area of media covering the fight — as Alvarado taunted his opponent while serving up combinations of his own. To comprehend the beautiful destruction that was taking place, you would have had to have seen former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson jumping up and down from ringside.
In the third round, Alvarado crushed Rios with a right hook and staggered the proud Mexican as the crowd came to life once again. For the next couple of rounds the fits of violence left grimaces on the faces of those in the arena. Alvarado’s face was slowly breaking up as a cut over his eye opened wide and his face morphing into a fleshy bruise. As for Rios, the Robert Garcia trained fighter must have a face made out of Kevlar because he surely didn’t look like a fighter that’s been in a war.
A distinct change in strategy came forth in the ninth round as Alvarado’s boxing skills neutralized Rios’ ability to slug it out. Each jab that Alvarado popped into the face of Rios tamed the wild beast. Before Rios could set up yet another blistering combination, Alvarado was already dancing away and out of reach. This isn’t to say that there was less action though because there were still moments where the two continued to beat the hell out of one another. It’s just that Alvarado was much more intelligent this go around and opted to not hang around and accept the hellfire and brimstone that Rios fired at him.
It has always been evident that Alvarado was a better boxer than Rios, but as long as that warrior’s heart beat inside of his chest, a war could break out at any given moment. The challenge for Alvarado was quelling the thirst for blood. And he did just that.
The strategy worked to a tee as Alvarado claimed three of the final four rounds on two of the judges’ scorecards and snared rounds 9-12 on the other scorecard. After the final bell sounded, both fighters threw their hands in the air but it would be Alvarado who knew that he did enough to take the decision. With scores of 115-113 (twice) and 114-113, Mike “Mile High” Alvarado earned his helping of revenge.
But, truthfully, these are the types of fights that nobody recalls the winner as much as they do the action. Although in defeat, Rios didn’t go the sore loser route and instead chose to interrupt Alvarado’s victory interview with Max Kellerman.
“I won the first one, now they want to make the third one. Let’s make the third one,” Rios exclaimed. Alvarado wasted no time with his response. “Brandon gave me a shot to redeem myself so I’ll give him a shot for the trilogy.”
Rios barked right back, “I’m a warrior. I love to fight. We gotta do it again.”