CARSON, Calif.– Nonito Donaire did it again. He notched a victory over yet another notable name as he starched Tokyo's Toshiaki Nishioka in nine rounds in front of a capacity crowd at the Home Depot Center in the main event of HBO World Championship Boxing Saturday. He could eventually find himself earning a spot in Canastota at the International Boxing Hall of Fame once he's called it a day. Which, considering the lack of punches he has taken over the course of his career, could be a long time from now.
When that happens all those years from now, he could be remembered as one of the greats. On this night, however, he was vastly overshadowed by the brutality of the night's co-feature between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado.
“If'n I'm forgotten, you'll remember me for today…
…Once the show gets started, it's bound to be a sight to see.”
The preceding lines from the Kings of Leon's “Pyro” perfectly sum up the carnage that was Saturday night's co-feature, in which Rios outlasted Alvarado, stopping him in the 7th round in front of a legion of supporters in Carson.
Unlike headliners Donaire and Nishioka, it is unlikely that Rios or Alvarado will have the kind career longevity that could land them in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Neither fighter may grab multiple belts in numerous weight divisions, but they will deliver (and did deliver) brutal action.
They achieved what some first ballot Hall of Famers never did, fighting to the oohs and ahs of a raucous, bloodthirsty crowd.
For Rios, who was coming off a difficult and controversial victory over boxer-mover Richard Abril, it was an opportunity to make a statement at 140 pounds.
He ate shot after shot from the more accurate Alvarado, whose faster hands put together some impressive combinations that Rios had a difficult time finding with anything other than his chin. Nevertheless, Rios didn't take a step back, always coming back with his own (usually less accurate) power shots.
Alvarado stood his ground when Rios answered back, but the willpower of the Oxnard native wore him down. He took his first real step back in round 6 when a Rios right hand landed extremely well. It came just seconds after Alvarado had unloaded the kind of punishment that would put a bull's lights out.
That backwards move by Alvarado opened the door for Rios and in the next round he landed consecutive shots with Alvarado's back on the ropes, stiffening him up. Rios didn't give the Denver native an opportunity to breathe, ultimately punishing him until referee Pat Russell called a halt to the bout.
The night's main event, which couldn’t compare to the war that preceded it, was another victory for Donaire that will help his pound-for-pound status.
The bout began slowly with both fighters feeling each other out. Donaire reverted to the form he took on in recent bouts, lunging in with shots that don't find the mark like they do against lesser opponents. The crowd reaction to the early stanzas was far from positive, and the best action came midway through the bout in round six when Donaire put his opponent down for the first time with a massive uppercut.
Nishioka got up and finally found some fight in himself, landing his best shots of the night. The action slowed in the 7th and 8th, setting up the finish in 9th.
Nishioka was doing some solid work, putting Donaire to the ropes with some right jabs. The Filipino from San Leandro, Calif. looked as though he was bothered by a few straight lefts, but only for a moment. Donaire landed a picture perfect straight right that put Nishioka down hard. Nishioka would make it to his feet but his corner would save him at 1:54 of the round.
Tonight's real winners were Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado. Nonito Donaire will likely be the winner when his name makes it onto a ballot sometime in 2020.