CARSON, CA — They came. They fought. They beat the hell out of each other. And at the end, Brandon Rios was the last man standing, weathering Mike Alvarado’s home run bombs for a thrilling, come from behind seventh round TKO in an instant contender for 2012′s Fight of the Year.
As advertised, both men met at ring center from the opening moments of round one. Rios was able to get inside with left hooks and drew first blood by giving Alvarado a bloody mouth. Alvarado used his feet and got the better of exchanges at mid-range courtesy of left and right hooks. Nonetheless, it was Rios who finished the opening round strong with uppercuts in close.
Big exchanges took place during second with both men hammering away with left hooks. Alvarado snapped Rios’ head back with a straight right, but the man known as “Bam Bam” kept coming and lived up to his moniker by working his left hand downstairs. Alvarado countered those attacks with a powerful right uppercut
Alvarado got back on his toes for most of the third and succeeded in catching Rios with solid jabs and right hands. Rios never wavered in coming forward and caught up to Alvarado in the last minute with left hooks, but was held off by Alvarado’s overhand right.
Alvarado wrestled control away in the fourth and fifth stanzas by focusing on counter uppercuts and overhand rights. Rios continually walked through this bombs, and at times with a smile on his face, to double his left hook to the head and body.
Alvarado was having a dominate sixth until a late Rios right stunned him. Another right drove him to the ropes, but Alvarado would land a left hook before the closing bell.
Rios’ right would bring out the fight’s dramatic ending sequence in the seventh. Rios’ overhand shot badly hurt Alvarado at ring center, and he followed up with several more while Alvarado staggered against the ropes. A series of unanswered lefts would cause the referee to call off the bruising slugfest.
Now the clear choice to face the winner of the December matchup between Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao, Rios put those two veterans on notice while acknowledging Alvarado’s power
“He got me a little stunned but I didn’t show and went on,” Rios told HBO commentator Max Kellerman. “I have power that followed me up to 140. It just takes a little longer. Maybe the ref should have given him a little more time. I tip my hat off to Mike… See what happened to Mike Alavarado. Same thing will happen to them [Marquez and Pacquiao].”
In the main event, Nonito Donaire dominated and scored a ninth round TKO over Toshiaki Nishioka. Donaire had difficulty in landing early on Nishioka, who fought very defensively and sparingly threw punches. When he did open up in the sixth, he was quickly knocked down courtesy of a Donaire right uppercut. Donaire would rely on his right hand again to close out the show, when Nishioka pinned him on the ropes but walked into a flush right cross for the bout’s final knockdown. Nishioka rose but was saved by his corner after a few more Donaire power shots.
Donaire appeared to reaggravate his left hand, which was bleeding around his left index knuckle and had been seen taped earlier this week. Should the injury not be severe, Top Rank hopes to match Donaire against Jorge Arce to close out 2012.
What else needs to be said about Rios vs. Alvarado? It was the brutal war we all expected it to be. Rios sorely needed this type of performance after the robbery win he was given over Richard Abril earlier this year. Despite this, I would not favor him over Juan Manuel Marquez nor Manny Pacquiao. With Marquez, Bam Bam would give way too many countering openings. The master technician would have the bout looking like a replay of his Fight of the Year win over Juan Diaz. Regarding Pacquiao, Rios’ style would have him looking spectacular again. Even this unfocused version of Pacquiao we’ve seen over the last few fights would have a field day with Rios’ come forward style (see the Margarito thrashing).
It’s too bad Top Rank and Golden Boy have their issues. Who wouldn’t love to see Rios in there with the likes of a Lucas Matthysse, Amir Khan or Victor Ortiz?
I’m incredibly disappointed in Nishioka’s performance, but I’m more appalled by Donaire’s continued sidesteps about fighting Guillermo Rigondeaux. They’re in the same stable and both have title belts. If Donaire can get “excited” to fight the likes of Jeffrey Mathebula and Omar Navaez, he can get excited for Rigondeaux. I don’t mind him getting taking on Arce in December if that happens, but the Rigondeaux fight needs to happen early next year at the latest.