Interviewer: How do you know when you’re finished with a painting?
Jackson Pollock: How do you know when you’re finished making love?
the question of who will come out victorious won’t be answered until
somewhere around 8 p.m. on Saturday night in Carson, CA’s Home Depot
Center, that Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios vs. “Mile High” Mike Alvarado has
potential to be something special is a certainty. Alvarado and Rios are
two hardnosed, honest men who give no quarter and take no sh*t. If
boxing is art, these men are Jackson Pollock, splattering their violence
every which way upon their opponents until the canvas is covered and
the work is done. This ain’t Pablo Picasso. There won’t be any mystery
about the mayhem these two men will inevitably lay down on each other as
HBO’s co-feature to Nonito Donaire vs. Toshiaki Nishioka (brought to
you by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions).
When faced with a fight that promises to be this honest, this brutal in its approach, I felt the timing was perfect. Arturo Gatti is
up for Hall of Fame consideration. Like Rios and Alvarado, no one will
ever accuse Gatti of being a stylist. We were amazed later in his career
when Gatti, working under Buddy McGirt, began to actually jab and block
punches. No, what we loved about him was his heart, ability to absorb
intense damage yet come right back and, if not stop the other guy,
happily get near death trying to. We love Gatti for this. How do you not get in the Hall when someone can say “Gattiesque” and you know exactly what they mean?
makes me question what greatness is. What does the “fame” in “Hall of
Fame” actually mean? It’s not the “Hall of Skill” or the “Hall of
Accomplishments.” It’s definitely not the “Hall of Guys Who Never Got
Hit and Always Won.” It’s the Hall of Fame. Fame is defined as such: the
condition of being known or talked about by many people, especially on
account of notable achievements. Gatti-Ward is actually one word as far
as any where boxing is concerned. Color me a boxing writer but I
consider adding to the lexicon through courageous violent acts an
[Alvarado] fights the way he has been fighting, it is going to be one
helluva fight,” Rios said on a recent conference call. “It is going to
be one of those fights that is like a Gatti-[Micky] 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’s going to be a great fight.”
if you feint, clutch, grab, never risk, kind of jab, rarely knock
anyone out and generally fight in a manner devoid of risk, you’re
considered “pound-for-pound” and elite. “Hit and not get hit” is the
name of the game on every level. Hit the network for a giant site fee
against an opponent you are sure to beat. Hit the fans with hype machine
websites designed to hide how shaky your business practices are, how
the platforms you proclaim you stand on are nothing more than hyperbole.
Hit the casinos up for comps, free rooms and “Oh yeah, can you buy a
few thousand tickets to cover our losses – again?” All while avoiding
getting hit for as long as you can. “I still got my ‘0’.” That’s
brings me back to these two hardworking fighters, Rios and Alvarado,
who no one would ever accuse of being network poster boys. Rios once
told this writer he wants to see how hard the other guy can hit. I could
see in his eyes that he actually wants to meet the guy who pushes him
right to the edge just to see if he can take it and come back. It’s a
reckless streak that makes him a very important half of this pair.
am ready to take a punch from a heavyweight-pounder,” Rios said. “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.”
has a quietly desperate way about him. It’s a focused hunger. The
entire team is a confident yet modest bunch, the kind of guys who want
the boss to see they did their work the right way even if he says, “No.
It’s OK; I trust you” before clocking out. The sense I got from them
when we met at the L.A. press conference was that they had some subtle
wrinkles planned. Even still, I could tell that Alvarado knew it was
going to be a war.
is your classic crossroads fight. Rios is coming off not one but two
fights where he missed the 135-pound limit. It’s why he is fighting now
at 140 and arguably why he is in as tough as possible in his junior
welterweight debut. After losing his lightweight belt on the scales vs.
John Murray and then losing the chance to get it back against Richard
Abril, Rios lost the momentum he had built up in his young title run.
Now he is on the proving grounds and he’ll have to do it against a less
experienced but hard-to-handle opponent.
hasn’t been to the mountaintop just yet; however, he has been rising
toward it steadily. Against Breidis Prescott last November, he was
professionally tested in a manner he likely did not expect. For much of
the fight, Alvarado was getting beaten up and outboxed. He was badly
cut, blood masking his face, when he began to mount a late comeback. He
succeeded in showing us how deep his well runs by stopping Prescott in
the 10th. An entertaining fight with Mauricio Herrera this past April showed that Alvarado is improving each time out.
used to be the big lightweight, a physical problem for the men at 135.
But at 140, Mike Alvarado is his division’s version of Rios, a junior
welter bursting at the seams to get to 147. Both men come forward but do
it with craft. Inside jabs, shots to the arms and ribs. It’s the art of
breaking down an opponent.
all know how Brandon fights. I’ll have to remind him of the little
things - like keep your hands up; keep your chin down,” said Rios’
trainer, Robert Garcia. “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.”
in boxing should not be defined by aesthetic beauty. It’s not all
slips, feints, ducks and dodges. It’s about something deeper, more
primal. It’s about who is willing to take more to give the final punches
that take this thing out of the judges’ hands. Art is subjective.
Greatness is undeniable.
is going to be a tough fight,” Rios said. “Alvarado is a tough junior
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.”
Let’s hope he’s right.