By Peter Wells: While the main event between Toshiaki Nishioka and Nonito Donaire may turn out to be a contender for fight of the year, it still may not be the fight of the night. That’s because in the co-main event, Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado, two of the most entertaining fighters in boxing square off in what could very well be one of the greatest fights in a long time.
Both fighters are unbeaten, they have a combined record of 63-0-1 – Brandon Rios drew in a 10 rounder 4 years ago. Not only that but Brandon Rios has 22 knockouts from 30 wins while Alvarado has 23 knockouts from 33 wins. Alvarado’s opposition though isn’t a shade on Rios’, but the way he has dispatched those put in front of him shows he is ready for this step up in class. 16 of those knockouts for Alvarado have come in the first 4 rounds. His most impressive victory came in November last year when he came from behind to stop the tough Breidis Prescott in the final round. Alvarado suffered a horrific laceration on the corner of his upper lip, but battled though, wearing his opponent down before a late stoppage.
The way he wore down Prescott brings comparisons to the way that Brandon Rios dispatches his opponents. If Rios has ever taken a backward step, I haven’t seen it yet. In September 2010 he stepped up his level of opposition when taking on Lamont Peterson’s brother, Anthony in an eliminator for the WBA Lightweight title (tonights fight takes place at Light Welterweight). Peterson was floored once and reverted to dirty tactics before being disqualified in 7th round. Miguel Acosta failed to defend his WBA title against the whirlwind that is Brandon Rios. Rios scored 3 knockdowns before the referee finally stepped in. Urbano Antillon lasted just 3 rounds, being unable to keep out of the way of Rios’ swarming attacks.
Then things started to go wrong for the fan friendly Rios. He failed to make weight for his title defence against John Murray. He was stripped of his title, while the fight went ahead, but Rios unsurprisingly looked terrible. Rios and Murray fought the fight at close range all night, but it was the power and strength of Rios that won the battle. Murray was mericfully saved from further punishment in the 11th round.
Instead of moving up in weight, Rios tried one more time to retain his WBA title. Once again he failed to make the weight and looked horribly drained come fight night. His opponent Richard Abril boxed brilliantly and looked to have won the fight, but somehow Rios was given the victory by split decision.
Now at long last Rios has moved up to 140lbs, a packed division, where win or lose tonight he will be guaranteed big fights.
Excluding an early knockout, which I personally doubt will happen, this WILL be a barnstormer. Rios will likely be the one on the front foot, but Alvarado will rarely be out of range. The pick is for Alvarado to start fast and take an early lead. Both fighters may suffer knockdowns in a gruelling contest that will keep the fans on the edge of their seats. It is very unlikely to go the distance and I fancy Rios to bulldoze through and stop Alvarado in the final 2 rounds.