Brandon Rios: The Uppercut Explained

By Gordon Marino on January 28, 2015
Brandon Rios: The Uppercut Explained
“I want to destroy them. You have to have that attitude.” (Chris Farina/Top Rank)

“When I get inside, I bend, lean a little back with my weight on my right foot and fire my right uppercut straight up the middle…”

I caught up with Brandon Rios (33-2-1, 24 KOs) today. He was still on the ceiling after his thrilling stoppage of Mike Alvarado (34-4, 23 KOs) on Saturday night in Denver.

Rios, who did much of his pre-fight training at high altitude, effused, “I was in fantastic shape. We had a plan and I followed it this time. The plan was to be patient. Come in behind the jab. Get inside. Punch up and down.”

Rios added, “One forty-seven feels like my natural weight. I didn’t have to starve myself. I feel like a natural welterweight.”

The new WBO international welterweight champ is bursting with energy and excitement. In the weeks before the fight he was telling himself and probably rightfully — that it was now or never, that one more ugly loss could put his career on the canvas for good. The 28-year-old brawler is intent on continuing the momentum. “I want to stay busy,” he insisted. “I want to be back in the ring in April. This was a good fight but I didn’t get a lot of rounds in and I want and need more work.”

Rios possesses a matchless uppercut. Pressed to explain his technique, “Bam Bam” explained, “The uppercut has always come naturally to me. You have to set it up. I like to come in with a jab right hand. When I get inside, I bend, lean a little back with my weight on my right foot and fire my right uppercut straight up the middle.”

The boxing lesson continued. “I like to follow the uppercut with a left hook, a left uppercut to the body and then I finish with a straight right down the middle.” Afterwards, there is no waiting for a receipt; you move to the side and ignite another combo.

Rios emphasized that the power in the uppercut comes from the legs and quick turn of the hips. The left uppercut is arguably the hardest punch in boxing to master but Rios maintained that the big difference is you are getting weight on the front leg and turning the back foot. But right or left uppercut, Rios stresses, “You have to come straight up with it.” And he and his mentor, Robert Garcia, are adamant about changing levels with your shots as in head, body, head.

Just before the bell rang on our conversation, I asked Rios about Pacquiao vs. Mayweather. He sighed, “I really don’t think it is ever going to happen. But if it did, I would pick Mayweather.”

I was expecting the friendly but rugged fighter to reason that Mayweather was too fast or sly for the Pacman, but it was something else. Rios observed, “Pacquiao has gotten very spiritual. Very Christian. And that is fine. But he really doesn’t want to hurt the other guy anymore. And in boxing, as much as we might be friends and respect the other guy — you have to want to kill him when you are in there. Not really but you know what I mean. When I go in there I don’t care who it is. I want to destroy them. You have to have that attitude.”

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Mike Alvarado vs. Brandon Rios 3: HBO Boxing After Dark Highlights



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  1. Darrell 05:12pm, 02/10/2015

    The uppercut was my favoured punch on the rugby field…....dealing to troublemakers up close was a thankless but needful job for us lock forwards.

  2. Kid Blast 01:26pm, 02/10/2015

    That’s the first thing you learn about throwing an uppercut. Never from too far away.

  3. Gordon Marino 12:21pm, 01/31/2015

    Yes indeed. Douglass threw that right uppercut from outside and blam Holyfield nailed him with that left hook. Good night. Thanks

  4. FrankinDallas 12:11pm, 01/31/2015

    An uppercut can also be fatal if thrown from the wrong distance.
    Ask Buster Douglas about it.

  5. Gordon Marino 08:52am, 01/31/2015

    Frankie, did not mean to imply that Rios has the best upper in the business but I missed the Luis fight. Will try to check it out on YouTube.  Thanks

  6. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:56pm, 01/30/2015

    Gordon Marino-You were a week early with the wrong exemplar…..Tony Luis was throwing a text book uppercut with power and landing repeatedly on a 7 to 1 favorite who was full of piss and vinegar and actually trying to defend.

  7. Marino, Gordon 09:15am, 01/29/2015

    Good point Kid Blast. Not too much of a dip - natural bend in the knees and then just a titch more. Rios did a good job of staying close but giving himself enough room to punch. But Mike, whom I also deeply respect, was a sitting duck. Thanks

  8. Kid Blast 08:55am, 01/29/2015

    And not much of a dip. It should come off a horizontal line so it surprises. But Rios was allowed to dip thus giving him more leverage and no fear of a counter hook.

    That was an uppercut that was allowed to be thrown at a willing target and it was frightening to watch, but tis fight was one of the easiest to call in recent history given the variables surrounding Mike.

    But there is no disrespect from this fan. just memories of a great trilogy.  Thanks Mike for everything. “The two will forever be linked by history as well as blood shared.”

  9. Marino, Gordon 08:18am, 01/29/2015

    Hey Frankie - Alvarado’s reflexes weren’t there. I really think he ought to consider another profession. Not an arm punch though should be exploding off the back leg and hip. And usually, like the left hook - can’t see it coming - but he wasn’t able to mail it in to Manny. Thanks.

  10. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:55am, 01/29/2015

    After the fight Mike said, “That’s what I get.” He might have added , for being a bad boy. More stationary than a heavy bag and bending over at the waist literally eating those uppercuts like a Goddamned masochist, making sure “that’s what he got.” Did Mr.Text Book Uppercut even land one on Manny or Abril for that matter? It’s basically an arm punch, but if you land fifty flush on someone’s nose….there will be blood!

  11. Gordon Marino 06:46am, 01/29/2015

    Thank you Matt. Man, Brandon is pumped!

  12. Matt McGrain 10:25pm, 01/28/2015

    That’s gold, thank you Gordon.

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