Mike Alvarado started slowly versus Brandon Rios, got buzzed in round two, but collected his senses, and he did what all said he couldn't, and boxed smartly and steadily for the duration in the main event at the Mandalay Bay on Saturday night, in Las Vegas.
Alvarado mixed movement and flat footed combination punching, and got the love from the judges, by scores of 115-113, 115-113, 114-113. It was another superb prizefight, without the jaw-dropping violence of the Bradley-Provodnikov fight, but top grade nevertheless.
I had it 7-3-2, for Alvarado, but am just happy the judges got it right.
It was another majestic display of will and guts, and yes, skill, as Alvarado's ring generalship carried the night. Alvie (seen above in Chris Farina-Top Rank photo) went 261-860 to 241-823 for the loser, according to CompuBox.
Rios after interrupted Max Kellerman and Alvarado, with Rios calling for promoter Bob Arum to get the papers ready for a third bout. He said he'd give Brandon an immediate rematch, but said it's up to Arum.
Rios agreed he lost, to Kellerman. He said he'd go to Denver to fight again. "Respect, we'll go to your city," he said. Rios said he wasn't hurt and he'd be happy to go 15 more rounds.
Alvarado (33-1 entering; from Colorado) was 140 pounds, while Rios (31-0-1; from Kansas, living in Oxnard) was 140, after losing his undies.
The vacant WBO light welter title, interim version, was up for grabs, but really, the title was immaterial, as fight fans knew stakes larger than a gold plated trinket were to taken.
The two men battled last October, with Rios winning a TKO7 victory. Did he figure that his power would again carry the day and maybe he'd be able to finish the night even earlier?
In the first, Rios came out banging, stalking. He cut off the ring masterfully, and took the round. Alvie looked to jab and move, but his right eye started swelling.
In the second, a jab buckled Alvie. He started well, busy and sharp, but had to hold with a minute left. They traded and the crowd roared in the final minute. The jab was a leaping jab, with great momentum.
In the third, Alvie landed another overhand right, his third or fourth of the fight. Rios worked the body well, but he was hurt with 40 seconds left. An overhand right did it. Of course, he grinned after the round.
In the fourth, Alvie kept up the momentum. His jab was popping, his right hand looked crisp. Instead of moving, circling, he stayed flat footed and that made him busy, and more effective.
In the fifth, Rios threw low and Alvie got a break. It was another busy, tight round, looked a lot like the first tangle. Alvie went lefty for quick bit once or so every round and again early in the sixth. Both men landed power shots with perhaps Alvie landing more. Robert Garcia called for uppercuts after the round.
In the seventh, Alvie was again looking confident. He moved more this round than the one before. Both men, again, landed power shots, and it was anyone's guess what the judges would say.
In the eighth, Alvie landed clean, hard shots to take the round. He moved smartly, and engaged when he wanted to. Rios showed a chin of a champ.
In the ninth, Alvie ran a lot. His eyes looked swollen, but then he got busier late and took the round. His slingshot right once again landed clean. "I need three punch combinations," said Garcia after.
In the tenth, Alvie might've stolen the round in the last five seconds with power launches. In the 11th, Rios had better luck. His jab returned and Alvie looked to hold some. In the 12th, Alvie kept on outboxing Rios and landed a hellacious left hook. What would the judges say?
We heard pre-fight that some scrapes evident on Alvarado's face came from a bar fight, perhaps by some glass breaking on his face. We also heard that Rios is tight with trainer Robert Garcia, who he said has bailed him out a few times from jail.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV