Sweet Savagery
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Oct 15, 2012) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor, Doghouse)
-  
Mike Alvarado (L) - Brandon Rios (R)
It's rare that the sport of boxing - which too many times lets down its fan base - not only delivers on its promises but exceeds them. That's precisely what took place at the Home Depot Center this past weekend as Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado put on a display of beautiful brutality that saw “Bam Bam” eventually halt Alvarado after seven rounds of pulsating action with an ebb-and-flow rarely found in prizefighting today.
 
It wasn't so much the “Sweet Science” but more “Sweet Savagery” that was put on display between these junior welterweight combatants. The announced crowd of 7,665 in attendance witnessed the most vicious of serves and volleys at this tennis stadium that is becoming best known as a boxing venue.
 
Rios-Alvarado wasn't the fight we all expected. It was better.
 
And for Rios, it was not only a career-defining outing but retribution. After his struggle against Richie Abril in April, he was roundly criticized for not only failing to make weight (again) but putting on a rather desultory performance versus the awkward Cuban. Some athletes try and claim they don't care what's said or written about them. Rios made it quite clear that he does.
 
“Did I shut you guys up? Did I shut you guys up?! “he barked at a group of reporters who followed him back through the bowels of the Home Depot Center immediately after his fight. “Because my last performance, you judged me really bad.” He continued his haranguing of those he felt were overly critical of his last performance. “This is the fight I wanted to shut everybody up. This is the fight I wanted to shut you guys up.”
 
Well, Brandon, as I didn’t give you a standing ovation after your fight back in April and picked Alvarado to win this fight, you showed me. Point taken. After his bout with Abril, his stock plummeted to Facebook levels. Now after this victory, he's back to being Apple stock.
 
Rios may never make any pound-for-pound lists (for whatever reason, maybe it's because being an adept in-fighter isn't considered skillful enough) but he'll always be in some of the best fights. And boxing needs more of these guys, not fighters who care more about making business decisions and protecting undefeated records. “I told everybody it's not about the belts; it's not about the money. It's about the satisfaction that the fans get out of a fight,” said Rios. Imagine that, a fighter who actually cares about the fans.
 
The fight had a certain back-and-forthing where the momentum not only shifted between rounds but inside them. At the end of the sixth frame, two scorecards had it even at 57-57 and the third read 58-56 for Rios, who had to walk through some fire to eventually put the heat on Alvarado. Early on, Alvarado actually outworked Rios and hurt him with a few long-range right hands. But as he did against the likes of Miguel Acosta, Rios steadily wore down Alvarado with his heavy hands.
 
“I just kept doing my game plan; I knew if I kept going at the body - he was taller than me - the head is going to fall. Or he's going to bring his hands down; that overhand right is going to be ready,” said Rios, who explained that because of Alvarado’s slanted stance, he had problems utilizing his jab and was instructed by trainer Robert Garcia to go with the double left hooks and the overhand right that visibly hurt Alvarado in the sixth. The steady pounding attack of Rios has a way of eventually neutralizing whatever physical and technical advantage his opponents might have.
 
In this instance, it was Alvarado's size. Alvarado, unlike Rios had spent his whole career as a 140-pounder and had the frame of a welterweight. It's one of the reasons why they wanted the fight so badly- they felt Rios was a blown-up, undisciplined lightweight.
 
“Yes, he did,” opined Rios. “Everybody thinks that they're bigger than me because I'm moving up in weight. They got something else coming because, as you can tell, I'm a warrior in that ring. I don't stop; I keep coming, coming and coming. It looks like I'm dying. You better think twice; I'm coming back with harder shots.” Alvarado was the “Mile-High” redwood; Rios was the lumberjack who just kept chopping wood all night. Eventually, Alvarado was cut down.
 
“I'm the ax-man,” said Rios, smiling at the thought. “I chop that wood and the tree fell.”
 
For Alvarado, there was honor in defeat. Other than the end result, it was pretty much what he expected.
 
“I thought I was going to step around a little bit more; I was expecting like a bigger ring in there so I could utilize my legs a little bit more. I didn't,” he lamented in his dressing quarters after being checked out and getting a clean bill of health from the commission doctor. “I got willed into a slugging-fest with him right away. Kinda threw my game plan off a little bit but the fight went the way it had to go.” There were times that Alvarado seemed to be in control and getting the best of Rios. But it turned out to be a bit of a mirage as the success he had offensively also led to him to stray inside a bit too long and run into the buzzsaw from Garden City, Kansas. “Yeah, I didn't have as much control as I thought I should've. I was letting him inside too easy, letting him go through my shots. I should've kept him out a little bit more. I was throwing too many shots and not keeping him out like I should've.”
 
But Alvarado is now a part of history; he participated in a fight that won’t soon be forgotten. And despite suffering his first pro defeat in 34 bouts, he admitted, “That's still pretty exciting to know that. But losing just sucks but it’s only going to make me stronger. I'm going to come back twice as strong. Maybe it's what I needed to be a better fighter. I don't take nothing away from Brandon; he came in and did what he wanted to do. The fight just ended the way it had to.”
 
This fight was everything Dennis Green thought it would be. Crown it.
 
“Going in, I figured it would be a tremendous, tremendous fight because of the styles of the two guys. I figured it would be a great fight,” said Bob Arum, who promoted this event and handles both boxers’ careers. “Now sometimes when you figure it's going to be a great fight, it turns out not to be so great. That happens. This really exceeded what I really thought. I mean, these two guys stood in the center of the ring; they didn't clinch once. They threw every punch they had at each other and until the referee stopped the fight, you didn't know who was going to win.”
 
When asked about what he had in mind going forward for this pair, he told the ringside press, “What I would like - and both have rest obviously - Alvarado would probably contest for a vacant 140-pound title and Rios, I would say for the winner of [Manny] Pacquiao-[Juan Manuel] Marquez.”
 
Rios, a free spirit if there ever was one, had his own immediate plans.
 
“Both of us guys need a vacation after this war.”

STOPPAGE
 
Just my opinion but I thought the stoppage of this fight by referee Pat Russell was spot on. Could he or should he have let Alvarado have another second or two? Perhaps but at the same time, Alvarado wasn't punching back and it seemed like he was losing control of his faculties. And while Rios isn't a true one-punch KO artist, he's the type of consistent and concussive puncher that has you feeling as if you've been hit with baseball bats for 30 minutes.
 
In many ways, those types of punchers are more dangerous to the long-term health of their foes than those who can stretch you with one shot. Think about it; most ring fatalities come from long, drawn-out affairs, not the quick knockout. 
 
At the time the fight was stopped, Rios had seized full control of things and was rolling downhill on Alvarado. It says here that Russell saved Alvarado from taking a severe beating and preserved the rest of his career. There are some nights in this sport that have long-ranging ramifications going far beyond just that particular fight. No fight ever needs to become fatal. Alvarado will live to fight another day.
 
“That was an incredible fight; there wasn't - I don't think - six punches that missed each other. I never even clinched them. Everything was teed off, weight forward, hands coming on and it was great,” remarked Russell, who went onto describe the climactic ending, “These were incredible punches and then, you could see the kid [Alvarado] start to disassemble and the head goes back and accelerates and decelerates like that and I told him him four, five, six times, ‘You gotta show me something.’ We'd gone over this and I'll stand by my statement: I love this kid; I don't want to see this kid hurt. I want this kid to be able to fight again and he can fight again. I didn't want him to prostrate on the floor.
 
Did Alvarado ever contemplate just taking a knee and getting an eight-count to gather himself?
 
“I could've maybe; I could've but at the same time, that's just my heart. It takes over,” he answered. “So I would've taken a knee and came back but I dunno; I guess my will speaks louder than just thinking about it. So it's just the way it went, the way it is.”
 
Russell, who had not yet had a chance to really review his call, reiterated, “It's a moment in time and you have to do the right thing for the moment.”
 
FLASH
 
The boos and catcalls could be heard early on during Nonito Donaire's bout against Toshiaki Nishioka. Let's face it; he had a very tough act to follow. “You could put anything, [Muhammad] Ali-[Joe] Frazier, after Alvarado-Rios and people would be booing,” said Arum who, on this night, was definitely telling the truth. (Honestly, from the very get-go, the opening bout on HBO should've been the main event on this night but sometimes corporate agendas trump common sense).
 
The disturbing trend of rather dull Donaire fights continues but it's hard to put the entire onus on him. Bottom line, in boxing it takes two to make a fight. And since the memorable knockout of Fernando Montiel, the opponents Donaire's been paired with have been, uh…shall we say...reluctant? Top Rank needs to find a guy who's willing to take some risk and actually win against Donaire and with guys like Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz over at Golden Boy Promotions, they aren't realistic possibilities. So that might leave Jorge Arce and there is talk of this fight happening on December 15th on HBO.
 
Nonito Donaire - (Photo © Stve Kim)
The only issue is that the badly lacerated right hand of Donaire might keep him out of action the rest of the year. Seeing him get stitched up - and wincing in pain all the way through this process – makes you wonder about his availability. In many instances, the only real remedy for injuries of this sort is rest.
 
FINAL FLURRIES
 
It was made official over the weekend; highly-touted Mexican Olympian Oscar Valdez will be promoted by Top Rank...The undercard bout between Jose Roman and Javier Garcia was every bit the grudge match as anticipated (with both hitting the deck) but I'm still trying to figure out why that fight was stopped after the third round. There was no clash of heads called by Pat Russell and yet it seemed like Garcia's trainer, Robert Garcia, talked everyone into it. An official protest has been lodged by Team Roman...Russell (Wilson) Mania is running wild in Seattle...So is this the end of Ray Lewis' career?...For as great a fight as Rios-Alvarado was, it just wouldn't have been the same in an Indian casino or a half-filled ballroom. So yeah, the crowd matters in boxing, no matter what TV packagers and casino brokers try and tell television executives...DirecTV subscribers will be able to watch Lakers game on a regular basis this season, right?...Not going to lie; I really like “Nashville” on ABC. It's already made the regular rotation. [Editor’s note: A little bit o’ honky-tonk and that super-fine Connie Britton? How can you not watch?!]...I
.

More of Steve's recent work below his contact info...
Steve can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and he tweets (and enjoys “Competitive Tweeting”) at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.

Some more recent articles, news and notes from Steve Kim:
Brandon Rios Will Make Weight…Right?! Steve Kim
Another Golden Night at the Staples Center Steve Kim
Can Nonito Donaire Earn Style Points? Steve Kim
Lou DiBella After Dark Steve Kim
Flurries - Gabe Rosado vs Saul Alvarez, Drug Rehab order for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Amir Khan vs Humberto Soto, NFL and more...
Replacement Flurries: HBO's Boardwalk Empire, Steve Sabol of NFL Films, SHOWTIME Boxing, Univision & More
Double Standard - Andre Ward, Manny Pacquiao
Manny Pacquiao should Piss or get off the Pot

For much more on other stars of Boxing, visit our newswire on the homepage now



NEW: Follow Doghouse Boxing on FaceBook!
For more Boxing News 24/7 and so much more... 
visit our homepage now!



© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing Inc. 1998-2012