The Show Stealer
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (April 17, 2012) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor)
This weekend at the Mandalay Bay was supposed to serve as a prelude to a highly anticipated promotion with future Hall-of-Famer Juan Manuel Marquez at Cowboys Stadium on July 14th. As Saturday night unfolded, we found the guy to face him- only it wasn’t who Top Rank had planned on. As Brandon Rios struggled mightily against Richie Abril, fortunate to come away with a split decision victory, it was Mike Alvarado who put himself at the forefront to face Marquez in the summer with his scintillating, ten-round victory over the game Mauricio Herrera.
Ask yourself this quick question: after what ensued this past weekend, who do you want facing Marquez; Alvarado, Rios or Mercito Gesta?

Yeah, “Mile High” all the way.
“Oh, definitely; I put on a show,” said Alvarado, who can be excused for his biased opinion after the effort he put forth. “I came and stole the show; that’s what I do. I put on a strong, good, exciting performance every time I get in that ring. So I’m ready; this is my time. Let’s do it.”

For the first six rounds of their contest, Alvarado and Herrera battled back and forth. Alvarado, as big and as strong as any 140-pounder in the world, pressed the attack and backed up Herrera, who countered effectively with quick flurries, never capitulating. He bent but he never broke, although Alvarado’s constant pressure and activity was simply too much down the stretch. Alvarado won by the scores of 99-91, 97-93 and 96-94 in a fight that had the partisans on their feet for much of the last few rounds. In defeat, Herrera earned a measure of respect and his stock certainly rose. Alvarado stamped himself as a handful for any junior welterweight in the world.
“That was a good fight; [Herrera] made it a little awkward for me but that’s the way fights go. Once you get in that ring, fights are made of of styles and adjustments,” he said later on that evening. “I was making a few adjustments and he was just a real awkward fighter but I did what I had to do.”
His manager, Henry Delgado, said, “I thought Mike would take him out in the seventh or eighth round but I think when you get into survival mode, it’s harder to take somebody out. There was a few times he opened up a little bit but it was just ‘leave me alone’ punches and he just tried to survive the last half of the fight.” Ask Delgado and he swears his fighter is the baddest dog in the junkyard. “Michael’s a throwback fighter; he could’ve gone 15 rounds. You could see he was having fun in there, moving around, boxing. What I liked about it is he didn’t press the action. If the knockout came, then it came and he wasn’t going there all wild, trying to take this guy out. We wanted the knockout but we were satisfied with the win. It just gave us some extra rounds to work on.”
There is a firm belief in this camp that nobody but nobody can dig deeper than Alvarado.
“There isn’t anyone out there that can overcome my will. That’s just something I was blessed with since I was a kid. My work ethic and my heart, this where I’m meant to be. My will is just outstanding,” said Alvarado, once a high-school wrestler who didn’t put on a pair of Everlasts till he was 20 years old. With that, he states, “I’m a young 31, definitely. I’m still learning; I’m still fresh in the game. So I have a lot to grow from and I’m still learning in this ring. I’m still picking up a lot and it’s good. It’s a blessing for me and it’s just using what God blessed me with.”
Looking ahead, it was made clear to them to be ready on July 14th. At the very least, it looks like Alvarado will be getting a crack at a junior welterweight belt. But it’s the headline spot they want opposite Mr. Marquez.
“Bob [Arum] knows that,” said Delgado, “and I think it’s us that’s going to get it; I really do. He told us just keep doing what we’re doing. We’re going to fight in Dallas on the 14th. The decision hasn’t been made yet.”
If the paying public had a vote, there’s no question that, after Saturday night, it’s Alvarado who would get the assignment.
“Going back and just observing the fight, if I’m in the stands and watching these two fights, I would rather see Mike Alvarado in there than ‘Bam Bam’ versus Marquez. It would be a better fight for me as a fan,” said Delgado, who probably echoes the thoughts of many others. Honestly, if you’re Marquez, you’d probably want to face Rios rather than Alvarado, an unproven commodity at junior welterweight and naturally smaller than the Denver native. But Alvarado’s hard-charging style is a perfect complement to the counterpunching mastery of Marquez, who won a rather desultory 12-round verdict against Sergey Fedchenko in Mexico City.
“We’ll sharpen it up; we’ll tighten it up. We’ll be ready,” said Alvarado, who is now 33-0 with 23 knockouts to his credit. “We’ll still be the same Mike Alvarado I’ve always been but yeah, we’ll have a different camp for that. That’s another level and we’ll be ready for it.”
Right now, it’s the fight Alvarado and the fans want. A fresh, new match-up pitting the old master against the hungry young lion.
“Against Marquez, I’m the bigger, longer, younger fighter and I’m still learning,” he said with the confidence of a prizefighter who feels he’s just hitting his apex. “So I’d get in there and make huge adjustments and my strength is just unbelievable. That will overcome a lot in that fight, so just adjust accordingly and we’ll just stick to what we do.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum was Brandon Rios, who was fortunate to have walked away with a victory against Richie Abril. Once again, he had problems at the scales (coming into this scheduled WBA interim lightweight title contest at 137 pounds) and struggling all night long with Abril, who neutralized much of Rios’s vaunted inside attack by never squaring up and constantly grappling with him when Rios got close.
“It wasn’t one of my best performances,” Rios admitted while sitting in a chair in the Mandalay Bay press room, surrounded by a group of reporters looking for answers. “Abril, he didn’t want to fight; it showed. He was holding me; he just didn’t want to fight. I didn’t know what happened but it is what it is. Life goes on.” When asked if he felt he deserved the nod (the fight was scored 116-112, 115-113 and 111-117), he answered, “Yes, of course I won. Why not? How you gonna win a fight just holding? You can’t win a fight just holding” (Well, of course, some nowadays consider this “skill” but if you have a referee like Vic Drakulich so unwilling to do anything about it, well, why would a fighter not do it?).
Rios’ tone, hushed and tired sounding, was soon defiant and annoyed as he addressed his inability to make weight. It’s become a common as occurrence as him dropping expletives in an interview, having come in heavy three times in his last five outings. What peeved Rios are the insinuations that he didn’t even try to lose the excess poundage. “All the critics can say what they want to say. Y’ know what? It wasn’t my best performance because I did try to make 135. I did try to f**kin’ kill myself to make 135 because I heard it before [Yuriorkis] Gamboa and I wanted my title back. But y’ know what? It’s not like I did not try. I did f**kin’ try and there’s all these critics over here talking sh*t about me, saying stuff about me- half of these mother**kers are fat and heavy and they don’t even do it for their health. I’m doing it because I try to win my title back. And yeah, I did lose money. It’s f**ked up. It is what it is. But y’ know what? It happens. I did try. It’s not like I didn’t try. That’s why I’m going to 140.”
It has to be pointed out; most of us scribes aren’t going to make the cover of Muscle and Fitness magazine anytime soon but then, that isn’t a prerequisite to get a credential on press row. Making a weight that he signed up for is a part of his obligation. And failure to do so cost Rios $45,000 of his purse this weekend, thus ineligible for the “Todd duBoef Bonus” of 50-grand, which was to have gone to the winner of this bout (Abril was still eligible for that bounty).
The ugly affair with Abril only added insult to injury.
“It was very hard to make 135. After ’37, it just didn’t want to go down,” explained Rios. “I tried; I trained. I sweated; I sweat my f**kin’ ass off. I sh*t; I piss; I did everything I had to do and it just didn’t come down,” Rios pleaded angrily.
His manager, Cameron Dunkin, told Maxboxing, “He’s going to have to watch his weight, taking care of himself. He learned a lot tonight and I thought it was a very close fight but it just depends what you like, holding or fighting, and if they would’ve taken two points away from Abril- like they should have- he would’ve been forced to fight and it would’ve been a different fight or he would’ve gotten disqualified.”
As for the weight snafu, Dunkin put the onus on himself.
“It was a huge mistake. I blame myself for pushing hm. I pushed him really hard to do it and I shouldn’t have.”
This email I received on Sunday morning was pretty much in line with my thoughts on what took place this weekend:
I liked the undercard bouts, but jeez the main events were boring. 

No Bam-Bam. Just Bam... Bam... bam... kinda sorta. the hollowed out husk of Rios that made it into the ring wasn’t anything like Rios. 

what a horrible job of mismanagement by his team making this fight at 135. he was a dead man walking.

Rios’ team is so screwed up they can’t even get their story straight. up til yesterday they were on weight and don’t have any idea what happened, then Robert Garcia is interviewed and says everyone knew he wouldn’t make weight. 

whatever happened, he was a drawn, gaunt stick man and it’s obvious he’s physically incapable of making 135 ever again. his entire team and the Top Rank people all need to accept that. he’s a 140 pounder, period.

i know people will squawk for a few days about the decision, but let’s face it, Rios was beat on the scales and Abril is just awful in terms of style. I like boxers who have craft, but he’s just a spoiler who looks to make the other guy not win.

doesn’t make the decision right, just saying if I never see Abril again I’d be happy about it.

Marquez-Fedchenko just about put me to sleep. i left it recording in case the reports this morning said something interesting happened and we watched Modern Family re-runs. seriously. 

and since I only do HD, that cost me $59.95. ouch. guess i can tell myself it’s a bargain compared to the $75 I’d have to pay for Mayweather-Cotto.

Shane, as always, thanks for your correspondence. I think you bring some sanity to this discussion. I had Abril up 115-113 but don’t count me among the outraged masses over this decision. I have no problems admitting I hate clutchers and spoilers, don’t think they should be rewarded and, in fact, (as I pointed out after the James Kirkland-Carlos Molina fight) should be penalized swiftly in the name of having entertaining fights.
According to Dunkin, it looks like Leo Santa Cruz will face Vusi Malinga on June 23rd at the Staples Center as part of the Showtime telecast featuring the rematch between Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto and Lucas Matthysse vs. Humberto Soto. That’s a very nice looking triple-header...Saw Chris Arreola at the Mandalay Bay sports book late on Saturday night (he was actually in town with his wife for a wedding) and he says he might be on that June 2nd Showtime quadruple-header from the Home Depot Center...Just my opinion but Mercito Gesta needs to be stepped up. It seems like he can’t get up mentally for the level of fights he’s been getting from Top Rank and those guys don’t seem to challenge him too much during the fights...I know trainer Robert Garcia runs a loose ship and perhaps Rios likes it that way but honestly, just being around that whole crew (which is expanding every fight), I think they need to tighten things up. Just seemed like a bit too much fun and games...So the Red Sox aren’t dead after all? Too bad my Padres are...@DelTacoBarstow follows me on Twitter. My life is complete...Mandalay Bay is still my favorite hotel in Las Vegas...The Lakers are a bit more than Kobe Bryant, obviously...

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