Men o’ War: Alvarado Decisions Rios
Alvarado proved the naysayers wrong as he came in with a game plan, stuck to the game plan, and won the rematch by unanimous decision…
Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, World War II was as explosive as World War I.
“Mile High” Mike Alvarado (34-1, 23 KOs) and Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios (31-1-1, 22 KOs) fought a rematch of their unforgettable first fight and this time it was Alvarado who emerged the winner after 12 scintillating rounds.
In handing Rios his first professional loss, Alvarado won the interim WBO light welterweight title. But more than that, he proved the naysayers wrong as he came in with a game plan, stuck to the game plan, and won the fight by scores of 115-113, 115-113, and 114-113.
The fight was a classic. No sooner did the opening bell ring than the two warriors took up where they left off. Rios, wearing black trunks with red and silver trim, and Alvarado, in red trunks trimmed in white, took turns staggering each other in the first. Rios dazed Alvarado with a power jab in the second. Accepting the premise that it’s better to give than receive, Alvarado rocked Rios with a solid right, his signature punch of the night, in the third.
It was on.
Alvarado and Rios traded punches as they traded rounds four and five. Rios was his usual implacable self and put some serious hurt on Alvarado in rounds six and seven. Bam Bam looked a little worse for wear, but Mile High was busting up real good.
The fighters are in some ways mirror images of the other. Rios fought as he always fights—face first, coming straight ahead, fists pumping, destruction the only thing on his mind. But it was Alvarado who made the adjustments between fights one and two, and those adjustments, which included moving his feet, using the ring, playing the angles, switching from a conventional to southpaw stance, and clinching when he got in close, made all the difference.
Alvarado came into his own in round eight. He was fighting exactly the fight he needed to fight and shook Rios several times. Alvarado’s right had found a home. The tide has turned in Mile High’s favor. Between rounds his cornerman implored, “Don’t get overconfident.” In the opposite corner, Robert Garcia sensed the fight might be slipping away and warmed Rios about letting Alvarado “steal rounds.”
After the dynamic eighth round, the ninth was almost anticlimactic; but not quite. Rios continued barreling forward, looking for that one shot that would turn the fight around. Alvarado continued to fight smart, maybe even fight genius smart, as he turned up the heat in the final minute, bounced punches off the head of the oncoming Rios, and managed to pocket another round.
Going into the championship rounds, the fight was Alvarado’s to lose. Rios continued stalking Alvarado. When he caught his prey he was able to do some damage, but his prey was not easily caught and inevitably did more damage of his own. The left eye of Rios began closing in the 10th. Alvarado stuck to his game plan. Nothing Rios did in rounds 11 and 12 were enough to divert Mile High from engaging only when he wanted to engage. As the bell rang to end the 12th and final round, Alvarado, appropriately, was punching Rios in the face.
At the end of 12, CompuBox showed that Rios landed 236 of 787 punches thrown or 30%. Alvarado landed 248 of 806 or 31% of his punches. That may or may not be accurate, subject as it is to human error, but at least the judges more or less got it right.
Before they were shipped off to the hospital to receive medical attention, Rios and Alvarado spoke to Max Kellerman, and each other, in an unusual post-fight verbal free-for-all.
“It was that movement I was talking about,” said Alvarado. “That focus, sustained, staying on my movement, the game plan, the strategic ways that I did on camp. I capitalized on it and I did what I had to do to win the fight.”
Rios suddenly shot into the frame. He was screaming, “I gave you a rematch! I gave you a rematch!”
The two fighters exchanged words, or word might better describe it as personal pronouns and verbs fell by the wayside.
“Rematch! Rematch!” said Rios several times.
“Rematch! Rematch!” repeated Alvarado. “I got it, baby. Let’s do it again. I got no problem.”
“You know what?” Rios said. “We’re both warriors!”
“Warriors!” Alvarado said, “Warriors!”
Words were flying fast and furious, but few of them were comprehensible.
“Bob Arum! Where’s Bob Arum at?” shouted Rios. “Bob Arum!”
Max tried to get control of the situation. He asked Alvarado why everyone was so “amped.”
“Because he knows,” Mike High replied. “It (the first fight) was prematurely stopped. I came back with a better game plan. I’m always better the second time around.That’s what I did. I capitalized on what I needed to do. Brandon gave me a shot to redeem myself. I’ll give him a shot for a trilogy.”
Rios was hot and talking a mile a minute.
“What can I say?” he said. “I won the first one, so they want to make a third one, so we’ve got to make a third one. He won the second one. So the third one we have to take it back home again, baby. It’s like he said. He went to my backyard, I’ll go to his backyard. Fucking Denver, I don’t care. Wherever we go—”
“I’m bringing the title back home to the Mile High City,” interrupted Alvarado. “I’ll defend it there. I fought there. Let’s go to the Mile High City.”
“Respect!” exclaimed Rios. “Respect! I’ll go to your city. I ain’t scared. I’m never scared. You know how I roll. Like I’m saying, I’ll go to your city, Mile High—”
It was time for Max to ask another question.
“Brandon,” he said. “Brandon. He didn’t seem to hurt you in the first fight. Here he seemed to rock you a couple of times.”
Rios looked at Kellerman as though that was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard.
“Max, your eyes are deceiving. Your eyes are deceiving Max, because he didn’t rock me at all. We’re warriors. I don’t get rocked. If I would got rocked I would have been like that.” Rios did an impersonation of being on Queer Street. “Fuck no. We’re warriors. I still got energy to go more. I could go 15 rounds. Shit—I’m a warrior baby. I love to fight.”
The rubber match isn’t yet signed, sealed and delivered, but it’s coming. Yes, it is coming.