BOB ARUM: It’s really nice to do a boxing show where all you hear are accolades. Most of the time there are one or two guys complaining but this show is just tremendous. The media can’t wait to see Alvarado against Rios. Even before the first punch has been thrown, people are touting it as the ‘fight of the year.’ I think it could end up as the fight of the year. Mike Alvarado is a tremendous fighter who always brings it to the ring. He’s thrilled fans and now he gets this opportunity on HBO Boxing After Dark stage against Brandon Rios. [Saturday, October 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT]
HENRY DELGADO: I expect an action-filled fight. They have the same styles. Neither one of them will be taking a step back. It’s going to be non-stop.
MIKE ALVARADO: Camp is going well and I expect a good boxing performance. It’s going to be a very entertaining fight for the people. I am going to get in there and do what I do and that’s fight ’til the finish. I know it’s going to be a great, thrilling, non-stop, action fight. And I can’t wait.
You have moved camp out of Denver, which is a little unusual…
MIKE ALVARADO: Just to get my mind clear of everything. I wanted no distractions at all. I wanted to get my training down to a ‘T’. This is the biggest fight of my career coming up.
Are you happy you weren’t in Denver for the debate?
MIKE ALVARADO: Yes, I am happy I was away from all the hoopla of the debate. I heard all about it from my friends. It was crazy.
Can you tell us what the trek has been like for you to get to this point?
MIKE ALVARADO: It’s been a long, rocky road but I am happy where I am right now and excited for this fight. I am ready for this fight. I am blessed that Top Rank and HBO and my team are all here to help me push through it. I am ready to reach that next level now. I have been training so hard for this fight. I have been away from my family to make this fight a great performance. I can’t wait for October 13.
How does it make you feel when people say how excited they are to see this fight?
MIKE ALVARADO: I don’t really hear or pay attention to what the other people say. I just try to stick to my game plan. It will make me train harder because people are expected to see a high level fight. I am looking forward to it and I know I need t put on a good performance. I am going to do the best I can to win this fight, to put on a great show and be victorious on that night.
Do you feel you are a slugger and that your boxing is underrated?
MIKE ALVARADO: My boxing is definitely underrated. I am not just a slugger, I can also box ’til the end. I have learned a lot about myself in that ring. The fight (against Prescott) never took a toll on me. It was a good war with Prescott and has only made me that much stronger. I have the skills and I am ready to do this.
Will Rios history of trouble making weight affect your preparation?
MIKE ALVARADO: I am thinking in my mind that Brandon is training the best that he can. He hasn’t made weight in his past couple fights but now he is moving up in weight and fighting somebody bigger and stronger. I am sure his nutrition is good and he is having a great camp. That makes me more humble and more focused to be ready.
You are 32 now, do you feel an urgency?
MIKE ALVARADO: I don’t care about my age. I know I am at the level now. Right now, this is where I am meant to be. I feel young in the game and am ready to perform. Do you feel rusty since you have fought only twice this year compared to 5 times the year before?
MIKE ALVARADO: No. I don’t feel rusty at all. After my last fight we didn’t want to do anything to risk this next fight. We were looking for something big after the last fight and we are blessed that we got this fight. It is only my second fight of the year but it is worth it. I will not be rusty – I will be ready for it. Maybe it would have been nice to have another fight between then and now but it is what it is. I will just do what I do, put everything in to it and win.
How do you mentally get through it when it is such a tough fight?
MIKE ALVARADO: I have always been good in pressure situations. I love to win and put on a good show. It’s something I’ve always been good at.
Do you do anything different to prepare for this fight, which may be your toughest fight yet?
MIKE ALVARADO: I know that this is going to be a tough fight and I know I am prepared for it and confident. I look forward to a good fight. I maintain my focus on my training. I stay strong.
HENRY DELGADO: I think Mike makes the fights tougher than they are. He is a gladiator. He is a warrior. And he has a lot of skills that we haven’t even seen yet. For this fight, we have a different kind of game plan going. We are going to try and stick to our game plan but like I said, the warrior always comes out. He’s going to be in position to dominate the whole fight. We have some surprises coming.
What makes you believe that Brandon is tailor-made for you?
MIKE ALVARADO: My boxing skills are underrated. I am going to keep him at bay. He is going to be right there in front of me so I can do anything I want with him. I can fight his fight. I can bang with him. I can do whatever I want with him. It will be my fight. I will control the pace.
Do you think you’ll be able to push him around?
MIKE ALVARADO: I don’t plan to. I’ll try my best to do it but I don’t know. I can see myself throwing him around being the stronger fighter, but then again I may not want to waste my time – I may just want to keep him outside. We’ll see. We have a lot of options.
You were an undefeated two-time high school wrestling State Champion. How has your background as a wrestler helped you in boxing – i.e. making weight and training?
MIKE ALVARADO: It has helped me as far as my discipline, which I learned at a young age. As far as making weight, I have been on a scale since I was 5 years old to make weight. So the discipline in that area has always been there. Learned the ins-and-outs of it so it has always been there.
MIKE ALVARADO: Wrestling taught me how to push myself when the going got tough. I learned how to mentally and physically control all areas.
You traded the high altitude training of Denver for training in California. Do you miss it?
MIKE ALVARADO: Traditionally I would go home to the elevation before going back to the fight. Your blood cells get smaller when you go to the higher elevation. I never tested it. I always came from training in high elevation down to lower at the fight. I am fighting in it and training in it. My endurance is good right now. In my heart I know this fight is going to go toe-to-toe. I think it has its advantages, training at a high elevation, but at the end of the day, you still have to get in there and fight. Have you ever sparred with Rios?
MIKE ALVARADO: No, I never sparred with him. I met him through a couple of professional events. My trainer knows who he was from the amateurs.
HENRY DELGADO: Don’t miss this fight. It is going to be ‘Must See TV.’ Mike is going to bring the arsenal and Rios better be ready.
MIKE ALVARADO: I am ready for this fight and make sure everybody tunes in. I’m not going to put on a bad performance. Never have. It’s going to be an explosive, entertaining fight.
CAMERON DUNKIN: This is a fight that Brandon really asked for and it was a fight that I was real hesitant to take, of course. I wanted to get him a couple of other fights and I talked to trainer Robert Garcia about that. When it presented itself, Brandon was so excited and I didn’t want to disappoint him so we went to work on this fight and boy, everyone is very excited about it.
ROBERT GARCIA: As everyone knows Brandon was a big lightweight and hasn’t fought at lightweight in about a year. The last two fights he couldn’t make weight –he was fighting at about 140. People don’t realize that Brandon was so big and so strong that he will be comfortable at 140.
BRANDON RIOS: Training camp has been excellent. I am 100% holed up. I am confident. I am focused. This is one of the best training camps since I fought Peterson. I am ready to show the world and everybody what I can do at 140 now. 135 was good for me but now I am ready for 140.
How tough of a fight do you expect this to be?
BRANDON RIOS: This is going to be a tough fight. Alvarado is a tough jr. welterweight. Our styles are similar. He likes to come forward and I like to come forward. I don’t like to play a chess game. I like to go in and handle business and he likes to do that too. It’s going to be one helluva fight. The fans are going to love it and I’m going to come out victorious in this one.
What do you think about people mentioning this could be “Fight of the Year”?
BRANDON RIOS: I don’t really focus on that stuff. If it happens, it happens. We can’t talk about that right now because we haven’t fought yet. It’s pretty cool that people are saying that. That it could hit the “Gatti list” – that would be awesome.
Do you think it will be a tough fight?
BRANDON RIOS: Yes I do, because if he fights the way he has been fighting it is going to be one helluva fight. It is going to be one of those fights that is like a Gatti-Ward. I am going to go out and fight like I always do. If he changes, it won’t be like that. But if he comes to fight it going to be a great fight.
Will you try to tame Brandon or let him fight a war?
ROBERT GARCIA: We all know how Brandon fights. I’ll have to remind him of the little things — like keep your hands up, keep your chin down. That’s my job during the minute break and during the fight. During the fight, Brandon is focused on my voice only and he follows instructions. The word is Brandon has won with no defense, but his last five or six fights he has won and not been tired at all – so we have to get in there and throw a lot of punches and get on the inside and work – that’s his defense. People think he has no defense but I disagree. In his last five fights he fought great fighters and his best defense was his offense.
Do you feel your power will transfer to 140?
BRANDON RIOS: I was 140 making 135 comfortably. I always had the power. I could have fought at 140 and had the power. Now I will be fighting at 140 and hitting like a 147 pounder. That power is going to follow me wherever I go. The power never leaves a fighter. I will be ready 100% and the power will be there right with me.
How do you feel about not making weight?
BRANDON RIOS: I didn’t let my fans down. I don’t feel anything like that. If you can see the videos, I was trying to make weight. It would be a different story if I didn’t try to make weight and I came in heavy and looked heavy but I did try to make my weight. In my last two fights I knew it was starting to get hard. I felt good in the fights but the weight was starting to get harder. I put that behind me and now I am ready for a new division.
What kind of fight do you see against Alvarado?
BRANDON RIOS: The fight I see is we both come forward and I strike him and it is a bloody massacre of a fight. It’s going to be one of those fights that people are going to be on their feet the whole time. I told Robert since I started boxing I have been waiting for that type of fight and I hope this is that fight.
Do you feel ready to take a punch from a bit 140-pounder such as Alvarado?
BRANDON RIOS: I am ready to take a punch from a heavyweight-pounder. I don’t do it just to do it. I love my job. I love to fight. I love hitting people in the face and I love getting hit. If a heavyweight punches I will still love it and still have smile on my face. There is no difference from a lightweight to a junior welterweight to a welterweight to a heavyweight. It makes no difference to me.
Alvarado said his boxing skills are underrated. Do you buy that he won’t make it a war?
BRANDON RIOS: I’ll be ready for whatever he brings to the table. If he doesn’t want to fight – that’s good for me. If he wants to fight, it’s better for me. I’m not worried about what he brings. I have to worry about what I do when I go in there and fight. We are very confident. In this training camp we were very focused. We haven’t done much media. I want to prove a point in this fight and shut him up.
What are you expecting in this fight that you haven’t seen before? Alvarado’s manager says he makes fights harder than they should be and that he has great boxing skills that have never been seen and that they have some surprises…
ROBERT GARCIA: It shows me that he doesn’t even know what he’s saying. I’ve only seen him fight the same way. Now they are going to show different skills? If I have a fighter with so many skills…I have no idea what he’s talking about. We are prepared for a war. If he wants to change his style to a boxer, well, good luck to him.
BOB ARUM: On Tuesday at Fortune Gym in Los Angeles, the four fighters will host a Media Workout. Mike Alvarado will be there at Noon as well as Toshiaka at 12:30 p.m., who arrives in Los Angeles tonight (Oct. 4). At 1:00 p.m. Brandon Rios will be there and at 1:30 p.m. Nonito Donaire will be there. On Thursday, rather than hold a press conference where everyone makes speeches, we are going to have roundtables where the press can go from fighter to fighter to interview these principles and I think that’s going to be a lot more fruitful than the droning that goes on in these press conferences. Friday will be the weigh-in and Saturday, UNDER THE STARS, at The Home Depot. Tickets are going unbelievably well. This may be the biggest attendance maybe in many years, for boxing at The Home Depot. We have sold nearly 5000 seats as of now and they are moving very well. We hope to have between 6-7000 seats sold the night of the fight. You give people quality and they respond. One of the things we’ve done is keep the prices reasonable. The $150 tickets are sold. There are a couple $100’s remaining and the rest – $75 and $35. We priced it right for the fans for them to see great fights.
BRANDON RIOS: Everybody out there in the LA area – come to the fight. If not, watch it on HBO. The haters – keep hating. I am going out there to make a statement – a knockout.