3 More Rounds

Prizefight Preview: Rios vs. Alvarado III

Photos: Chris Farina / Top Rank

Photos: Chris Farina / Top Rank

Some fighters are just made for each other. Ali-Frazier, Holyfield-Bowe, Barrera-Morales, and Gatti-Ward are just a few examples of matchups that featured a perfect mesh of styles that produced some of the all-time classic fights in boxing history. This Saturday night, live on HBO, Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado face off in a rubber match after splitting victories in their two previous encounters.

The two warriors first faced off in October 2012. The matchup was expected to be an explosive affair with much hype from fans and experts alike. Their first fight was an instant classic and more than lived up to expectations, with each man landing heavy blows – the two combatants laid it all on the line. After six grueling rounds, Rios stopped Alvarado on his feet in the 7th round.

A rematch took place in March 2013. Alvarado (34-3, 24 KOs) vowed to box rather than get drawn into a brawl. After a few shaky early rounds, Alvarado found his groove and started to box intelligently from a distance. In what was still a high-action fight, Alvarado controlled and frustrated Rios to earn a clear unanimous decision.


The showdown on Saturday night takes place in Alvarado’s hometown at the 1stBank Center in Bloomfield, Colorado. The 34-year-old Alvarado is 3-3 in his past six fights, after his second fight with Rios, as Alvarado suffered a brutal 10th round stoppage loss to Ruslan Provodnikov in October 2013. In May he dropped a unanimous decision to Juan Manuel Marquez.

Rios (32-2-1, 23 KOs) has also gone though a rough road since his first loss to Alvarado. “Bam Bam” enters Saturday’s 12-round bout fresh off a shaky two years in which he suffered a one-sided defeat to Manny Pacquiao, along with claiming a dissatisfying disqualification win over Diego Chaves in a contest which may felt he was losing at the time of the DQ stoppage.

This is a legacy-defining fight for both men, with each man needing a win to stay relevant for possible big fights in the welterweight division.

The third fight between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado could turn into what boxing promoters like to call “a war.”


“Everyone who follows boxing has been waiting for this rubber match of what is the best trilogy of our time,” said promoter Bob Arum during Thursday’s final press conference. “Not since Gatti and Ward fought three great fights has anything like this happened in boxing, and on Saturday night we’re going to see the rubber match between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado. Each has one victory and based on the previous two fights, everybody knows that this last third fight will be a classic.”

Brandon Rios exuded confidence and spoke about feeling refreshed coming into Saturday’s much-anticipated bout.

“Everything’s great. I’m ready. I’m pretty sure they’re ready too. We’re just ready to go out there and give the Denver fans a great show…weight’s perfect, I’ve been disciplined, and come fight night everyone is going to see a new and rejuvenated Brandon Rios. I’m back to my old self and I’m ready to get back to the top baby.”

A major story in the lead up to this fight was Alvarado’s arrest during training camp. No stranger to run-ins with the law, his most recent issue occurred just three weeks before his scheduled fight with Rios. Alvarado was in the passenger seat of his Hummer when police pulled it over at about 4:15 a.m. Saturday and found a handgun in the glove box during the traffic stop. The car was pulled over for having an expired registration. Alvarado was taken into custody before he posted a $41,500 bond and was released.

Despite the arrest Alvarado remains positive and spoke to the media during a recent conference call.


“I have grown so much from all of these learning experiences. I put them behind me. I don’t hold on to them. I don’t bring them with me into the ring and it’s not a distraction. I have learned to be positive through it and be strong and it gives me more confidence to be a better person and a better fighter. On Saturday night it is on us to reach deep inside and make the adjustments that we need to make to overcome this kind of fight.”

With the stakes at an all time high for both men, expect fireworks and an early candidate for 2015 fight of the year.

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