Bombs Away - Rios vs. Alvarado Rubber Match
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Bombs Away - Rios vs. Alvarado Rubber Match
By Alan Cerf, Doghouse Boxing (Jan 21, 2015)

Bombs Away - Rios vs. Alvarado Rubber Match
Bombs Away - Rios vs. Alvarado Rubber Match

To say that the two previous encounters of Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado were “fan friendly” is a monumental understatement. 

Conversely, if your dream fights feature the gold-plated skill set of a Mayweather or the absolute technical perfection of Rigondeaux – then Alvarado-Rios on January 24, 2015 is not for you.   For while Rios and Alvarado certainly have sound boxing fundamentals,  they are not defensive specialists for even a single second of a single round.  

Rios and Alvarado are legitimate and worthy successors to, and can’t but help being compared with, Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward.

Why?  Simply put, most men and women enjoy watching fistfights.  Like Gatti-Ward and countless fights in earlier, rawer eras – Alvarado-Rios shootouts are the types of fights that leave you feeling a little speechless – and a little guilty.  Put simpler still – if the punishment they inflicted on the one another occurred outside the ring, it would simply be called Assault.

What to watch for: In some sense it’s a bit silly to even have such a heads-up as we all know what will transpire – as with the Gatti-Ward rubber match, there will be some concession to defense and better boxing, but the desires of all: Network, the larger Boxing Machine and the fighters themselves, mean it’s only a matter of time before the bombs come out!  Rios, while the naturally smaller man clearly has more power and Alvarado could but won’t, do himself a favor by standing behind the stick, the left jab, as his is a good one and superior to his opponent.  It will be a huge surprise to see either attempt to turn the deciding fight into any kind of technical boxing match.   While I don’t feel any boxing fan, even novices, really need advice beyond “don’t blink,” I feel strongly there are reasons why Rios-Alvarado III will be a barn-burner and unsurprisingly, it’s down to the strengths and limitations of the combatants:

Like Gatti and Ward (Ward’s left hook excepted) Rios and Alvarado are not particularly lethal punchers.  If they were, their fights would end in minutes – if not moments.  Brutal for them – delightful for us, they punch hard enough to allow round after thrilling round to go by, hard enough to inflict horrendous cuts and bruises, but not hard enough for either to suddenly put his opponent to sleep.  (And yes, I’m well aware the first fight was stopped.  I stand by this statement.)

Both know time is short.  Alvarado in particular has reached a dangerous age, and Rios has correctly identified low-rent, off network fights as the likely outcome for the loser.

Neither man is an angel.  This I believe is the most important factor of all.  Rios has had his miscues; mocking Freddie Roach was not kind or wise and hey, all young men – and many old ones too – do stupid things from time to time.  Perhaps Rios didn't know that the diuretic which caused him to fail the post-Pacquiao doping test was an illegal means to cut weight. After all, his hired expert gave it to him.  Above all though, there are world-class fighters and then there are the top fighters in the world and as hard as he tried, Rio’s futility against Manny Pacquiao shows he is not among the elite. 

Alvarado’s consistent and foolish run-ins with the law are painful to hear of.  He deserves credit for facing his past troubles head-on and vowing to change and now he must.   Nowadays, traffic infractions are disastrous for anyone and Alvarado apparently catches them like the common cold.  For a man on parole, a simple speeding ticket can end a career.  Alvarado says he has never come into a fight without legal distractions and it doesn't take a genius to see that these distractions can be leveraged as plausible excuses for losses in the ring.  We see it from the elite of all times – from Ali, the Sugar Rays – on down – no proud fighter likes to lose and few have not cited outside influences as the reason when they do.  Why should Mike Alvarado be any different?

The sport we all love is brutal and crazy, but despite its considerable downsides, we fans still cannot turn away from match-ups like Alvarado versus Rios.  For most of us, power connects is where it’s at.  The one-two, hold, one-two, then-BAM! knockouts of a Klitschko, the precise-as-science shoulder roll of a certain welterweight have their place.  Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios know what they can and can’t do and what their audience expects of them.  They know they aren't going to gross fifteen to thirty million in showcase fights, like Klitschko or Mayweather.  But they also know that every man or woman, who has ever been really angry, is a potential fan of the rubber match.

This Saturday I expect them to perform accordingly.  


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