Rios had bigtime issues making 135 his last few bouts, but fight fans are hoping the move to 140 will let the aggressive hitter concentrate on fighting more so than making weight. (Chris Farina)
The expectations are exceedingly high for the Oct. 13 Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado fight, so the contrarian in me says, Look out, you might want to dial back your optimism.
People are tagging it as a top candidate for Fight of the Year, noting that the aggressive nature of both men is quite likely to produce a war of attrition, a high-volume rumble where blood will spill, neither man will give an inch without a vehement violent protest, and the fans will get more than their money's worth.
"Even before a punch is thrown, people are touting it as a fight of the year," promoter Bob Arum said in a Thursday conference call to hype this scrap, which is the top support bout to the night's headliner, Nonito Donaire-Toshiaki Nishioka. The two bouts will run on HBO.
And while I play the voice of reason, and remind that when our hopes rise to high, the likelihood that we get disappointed rises, the fighters didn't really do much to lessen the buzz factor for their faceoff.
The Coloradan Alvarado got on the line first. It's been a bumpy road to get to this place of opportunity, as the man has had run ins with the law, and spent time locked up and in mandatory boot camp as punishment. But it appears those chapters, which included a domestic charge and driving infractions, are in his rear-view mirror.
The 33-0 fighter with 23 KOs tried to convince the media that he isn't simply a crude brawler, that he brings a varied arsenal to the table. "My boxing is definitely underrated. I am not just a slugger, I can also box 'til the end. I have learned a lot about myself in that ring. The fight (against Prescott) never took a toll on me. It was a good war with Prescott and has only made me that much stronger. I have the skills and I am ready to do this." He referenced his second to last last bout, against Breidis Prescott, last November. After giving rounds to Prescott, he roared to life, and scored a TKO10 win. Later, he made an admission: "In my heart I know this fight is going to go toe-to-toe."
The 32-year-old Alvarado, who is more than happy to trade in a fight, kept it classy when asked about Rios' scale issues, which threaten to define him if he can't get it right this time. "I am thinking in my mind that Brandon is training the best that he can," Alvarado said. "He hasn’t made weight in his past couple fights but now he is moving up in weight and fighting somebody bigger and stronger. I am sure his nutrition is good and he is having a great camp. That makes me more humble and more focused to be ready."
I am assuming the jump from 135 to 140 will remove all the scale-fail drama from Rios' life.
The 26-year-old Californian Rios sounds ready to put the scale issues behind him. "I am ready to show the world and everybody what I can do at 140 now," he said. "135 was good for me but now I am ready for 140." His last outing was so-so, as many folks thought he got a gift decision against Richard Abril in April.
Rios (30-0-1 with 21 KOs) was asked about how the two styles match up. "He likes to come forward and I like to come forward. I don’t like to play a chess game. I like to go in and handle business and he likes to do that too. It’s going to be one helluva fight. The fans are going to love it and I’m going to come out victorious in this one."
Could it be the fight of the year? "I don’t really focus on that stuff," he said. "If it happens, it happens." Then, he stated, "It is going to be one of those fights that is like a Gatti-Ward." As the call progressed, Rios seemed to get more and more amped, as he envisioned a vicious rumble. "The fight I see is we both come forward and I strike him and it is a bloody massacre of a fight," he said. "It’s going to be one of those fights that people are going to be on their feet the whole time. I told trainer Robert Garcia since I started boxing I have been waiting for that type of fight and I hope this is that fight."
This tussle and the rest of the card unfolds at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Both fights will be televised on HBO®, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast.)
Readers, who do you like to prevail in this possible "bloody massacre" of a square-off?
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?