There aren’t many can’t-miss fights in boxing, but Alvarado-Rios 3 is one of them.

Mike Alvarado, age 34, and Brandon Rios, age 28, have already fought each other twice. Both fights were barnburners and Fight of the Year candidates. They boast a combined record of 66-5-1 (45 KOs) and each hold one win over the other in the series.

It’s time to settle the score.

On a media conference call earlier this week, Bob Arum said promoterly things about the fight. He referred to each of the fighters as “gladiators” and said both men “make the sport of boxing proud the way they perform in the ring.”

Arum is arguably the most successful promoter in boxing history. He knows what he’s doing, and he says stuff like that on every conference call to make sure as many people as possible watch the fight on HBO or show up at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado on Saturday to see the fight.

“Everyone is looking forward to what should be a great, great fight,” said Arum. “The previous two fights were classics and this one will probably top them all.”

But here’s the thing: This one doesn’t really need all that much promotion. The first two bouts between the two hard-nosed sluggers did enough of that. Now, it’s just time to settle in and watch the rubber match between two fighters who just make great opponents for each other.

Rios took the first bout in 2012 by Round 7 TKO. Alvarado was game for an all-out brawl that night, and he paid the price for it. After looking like he was the bigger, stronger man early in the fight, the machine-like Rios overwhelmed him with hard right hands to force the stoppage.

The second bout was a different story. Alvarado was still content to trade with Rios, but he used his longer arms to keep the shorter Rios on the end of his punches. Alvarado isn’t a world-class boxer, but he has more boxing skill than Rios, and he was able to use that to his advantage in the second fight, a unanimous decision victory to even up the score.

How will the third fight play out? Alvarado believes he learned how to impose his will on Rios in the second fight and that it will pay dividends in this one.

“I will let the fight go how it goes and make adjustments accordingly to how we fight,” said Alvarado. “Our styles clash and we know each other so well that we know what’s going to happen then make adjustments. There are going to be a lot of adjustments that we will make as we compare each other’s styles and how we react to them. So it is going to be very interesting to see how this fight plays out as it goes along.”

But Rios claims he was just off his game in the rematch. He believes he can make adjustments to what Alvarado did in the second fight, and come out the winner on Saturday.

“I see it the same way—we are going to both make adjustments,” said Rios. “Like Mike said, we are both similar and fight the same way. We both have heart and wear our hearts on our sleeves. It all depends on how the first round goes—that’s how I see it. However the first round goes, that’s how the fight is going to be, and we are ready. We are ready for war. We are ready for boxing and ready for everything that we are going to make adjustments for. I know it’s going to be a great fight and the fans are going to love this one.”

Despite the blood-and-guts stuff in the ring, both Alvarado and Rios said they felt no animosity toward one another. In a weird way, they almost seem to be closer because of their shared experience in the ring together.

“There is no animosity between Mike and me. We are cool,” said Rios. “Alvarado is like my brother and we fight—we fight until somebody gets hurt.”

Alvarado concurred: “Brandon said it pretty clear. We have nothing against each other, and once we get in the ring we know what we [need to] do. We know what type of fight we are getting into with each other.”

But once the bell rings, these guys bring it. It’s as if they were meant to fight each other.

“We are fighters,” said Rios. “We are warriors. We will fight each other any day and any time. I am happy about this. We have to have this trilogy because it’s time. We cannot leave it as a tie. We have to see who is better than whom so we have to have this trilogy.”

“We are going to get in there and do what we do, added Alvarado. “It is what we chose to compete in and it’s 1-1. There has to be a winner to this. It is a trilogy and we have to figure out who wins. I am going to get in there and do what I do—that’s what I do.”

What these guys do isn’t all that complicated. Neither man is elite, something they’ve learned in recent fights against fighters like Pacquiao (Rios) and Marquez (Alvarado). But sometimes two fighters don’t have to be elite in order to offer an elite product together.

Alvarado-Rios 3 is an elite prizefight between two guys who just seem made to fight each other. There’s not much more to it than that.

Prediction: I like Rios in the third bout. He’s six years younger, seems to be dealing with less outside of the ring at the moment and will likely have a better game plan on Saturday than he did for the second fight.

— Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank

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-oubobcat :

I can't wait for this one tonight. I do not see anyway that this is not an all out war. I actually think this will be better than the first two fights. Alvarado is a bit shopworn in my opinion and will not use the legs as much as he did in either of the two fights (especially the 2nd). Plus, he is fighting in his hometown and remember he took some heat for what happened at the end of the Provodnikov fight last time he fought in Colorado. So I see Alvarado digging his heels in early and looking to slug it out. As we all know, that is the fight Rios prefers. I see a lot of excitement early but ultimately the less shopworn begins to assert his authority. I think Rios gets a stoppage in the 5th or 6th round here. Of course, if anyone has been following any of my recent picks in either boxing or football that means runs to the sportsbooks and put as much as you can on an Alvarado decision win.