The first time Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado declared war on each other they embraced the messy tenets of inside battle and let the tea leaves dictate who won; it was Rios. The second time, Alvarado climbed the walls in Las Vegas, just barely escaping ruin to out-distance the gritty brawler. And this time, whatever series of factors available added to up to Rios overwhelming Alvarado to the tune of a TKO stoppage after three rounds were complete.
Rios (33-2-1, 23 KO) never let Alvarado into the fight, and suffocated “Mile High” Mike in his hometown of Denver, Col. while taking far less damage than in the first two bouts. And damage is exactly what both concerned and excited the boxing fandom in the build up to this fight. There was concern that both Rios and Alvarado had taken too much of it coming in and excitement because they were all but guaranteed to deal so much more of it out to one another.
As it turned out, when the opening bell rang, there was about a half-round of two people with boxing gloves on not doing much. Then Rios-Alvarado III burst forth, and the serious punching began. “Bam Bam” connected with his uppercut and crowded Alvarado, who tried to fight back and create some kind of space, but he had his nose exploded at some point. As Rios crunched Alvarado in the 2nd round, the latter landed a low blow that bought him much needed time. When action resumed, Rios continued to land everything he wanted, all the way to the bell.
A swarming and bruising attack continued into round 3, when a right uppercut and two more glancing blows replaced Alvarado’s legs with a bowl of soup, and he hit the canvas in the final minute. Surprisingly, Alvarado stalled and survived until the bell, and was even venomously attacking when it tolled. But when it came time to face inferno again, Alvarado bowed out in the corner after absorbing plenty of the aforementioned damage.
Alvarado (34-4, 23 KO), will rightly have to face a battery of tests and questions about his lifestyle. Rios’ win was a double-edged sword — he looked good enough that a healthy portion of fans will say he’s “back,” but Alvarado looked bad enough that other will question what, exactly, beating this version of Alvarado was worth. Alvarado’s legal issues were well documented before the announcement of this bout, but his most recent escapades couldn’t have helped his training any. And we’re now left trying to figure out how much of this win was Rios’ superiority, and how much was the sum of Alvarado’s decline and thirst for extracurriculars.
Nonetheless, Rios, Oxnard, Calif., moves forward with his career, ahead in the Alvarado saga and apparently with more left in the tank than his rival. Where Rios can go is a mystery in a division like welterweight, with a number of styles that could trouble him, especially if he’s as sapped as many suspect.
Alvarado deserves a long break and an honest look at himself. His record is 1-4 in his last five fights, and he has lost three fights in a row. Piled on top of his most recent run-in with the law, Alvarado tweeted photos of himself partying in the middle of the night after getting in trouble and just weeks out from a huge fight. Serious introspection is needed, and life choices must be made.
In the co-feature, Mazatlan, Mexico native Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez improved to (31-0, 24 KO) and defeated Maxim Vlasov by unanimous decision.
Vlasov, of Samara, Russia, was able to keep Ramirez from gaining much steam offensively, combining slippery head movement, clinching and leg maneuvering to win a few rounds here and there. Most notably, Vlasov stepped up in round 2 after a slow 1st and likely stole it, and rounds 9 and 10 saw Ramirez tiring visibly, while Vlasov’s output seemed to go up. But otherwise Ramirez’s body punching was the difference, as it was more difficult for Vlasov to shake off than anything the Russian was able to land. Ramirez wilted quickly at the end of the final round, but hung in there.
In losing the decision by scores of 96-94 and 97-93 times two, Vlasov’s record fell to (30-2, 15 KO).
(Photo via @HBOboxing)