Brandon Rios (32-2, 23 KO’s) and Mike Alvarado (34-3, 23 KO’s) have expressed their preparedness to endure another war to complete their trilogy. They understand another loss could be detrimental to their careers and are willing to undergo another grueling bout in order to put themselves in a great position to further their rise to the top of the division. This bout will certainly deliver the type of action and drama fight fans crave for in a boxing match, and it has all the potential to become a fight of the year candidate.
Here is the Breakdown of the Fight
Mike Alvarado stands at 5’9 with a 69 ½ inch reach. He will step into the ring with a slight size advantage over Brandon Rios who stands at 5’8 with a 68 inch reach. The difference in stature between both fighters is quite miniscule, but it will slightly assist Alvarado in landing his jab and combinations from a distance.
Rios is a brawler whose fighting style is designed to break his opponent down over the course of a fight. He’s not the greatest defensive fighter but has solid offensive ability especially on the inside. Rios does a great job of cutting off the ring, and forcing his opponent to a toe-to-toe battle in spurts. Rios has the capability of making small adjustments in the fight, but comes in with the same game plan, which is to press the attack for all 12 rounds. Rios doesn’t have too much variety in his fighting style, which sometimes puts him in a vulnerable position if an opponent finds a way to counteract his strategy early on.
Alvarado has more diversity in his game than Rios. Alvarado’s ability to behave as a boxer and brawler at different times in the fight allows him to have more routes to choose from if he’s not having success early on. Alvarado could choose to either increase his lateral movement, smother more often, rely on subtle footwork to avoid punches, stand his ground more often and so on while being effective. Every fighter has options in making adjustments in a fight, but when one can box and brawl effectively they tend to make better adjustments compared to a fighter who can only brawl.
Rios doesn’t have one punch knockout power, but he has demonstrated he can hurt Alvarado with a single blow that can change the tenure of a round or the fight. The combination of power and a consistent offensive output can play a heavy toll on Alvarado that can ultimately lead to a possible stoppage.
Alvarado has solid punching power and can catch anyone’s attention regardless how good their chin is. He may not be able to send Rios to the canvas, but has the capability of momentarily preventing Rios from continuously putting endless pressure by landing a devastating punch. When he does land flush on Rios, it gives Alvarado the opportunity to create space and reset or to follow up with a combination while Rios’ tries to momentarily regroup himself. Alvarado can steal rounds by having these types of moments in the fight as he did in their previous meeting.
As far as Rios’ chin goes, it’s certainly one of the best in boxing. He has proven he can take heavy punches from strong punchers and continuously be able to apply constant pressure. Despite this great physical gift of Rios, he still must remain defensively responsible as much as possible due to the fact Alvarado did stun him in their previous encounter in the 3rd round. It’s unlikely Rios will go down at any point in the fight, but he can be stunned several times throughout the fight.
Alvarado will have to be diligent and very aware of Rios’ power throughout the fight. His offensive success cannot encourage him to get too reckless because he has been hurt in each of his previous two bouts with Rios. In their first encounter, he was stopped on his feet, and in their second fight meeting he badly hurt by a stiff jab in the 2nd round. Alvarado is more vulnerable to being staggered, but is still a very durable fighter who has shown the ability to regroup himself and bounce back after a difficult round.
In terms of hand speed both fighters are relatively the same. The separation of speed lies on the footwork. Rios has good enough footwork to be able to consistently cut off the ring against most opponents. At times, he can remain a bit flat-footed while being on the defensive, and this leaves him vulnerable to receiving heavy fire.
Alvarado is a lot more agile than Rios, and has showcased good athletic ability in the ring. He has displayed good lateral movement, and the awareness to smother his opponent whenever he feels he has nowhere to go then to quickly pivot away and reset.
Rios has solid offensive abilities. Whenever Alvarado decided to use lateral movement in their previous encounter Rios still managed to do a very good job of cutting off the ring. The few times Rios was unable to cut off the ring, he was still able to land or partially land a punch around the high guard whenever Alvarado got within punching range. Rios is an exhausting opponent to fight against because he is relentless. Even when Alvarado manages to pivot away from Rios, he still manages to land pesky short hooks or uppercuts before Alvarado can create space between them.
Also, whenever Alvarado got lazy and stood within punching range from Rios for too long, Rios was able to capitalize on his mistake by landing two punch combinations from a distance.
When Rios is at his best, it’s when he’s on the inside. He understands which combinations to throw in order to penetrate a fighter’s guard. Even when being smothered, he can land tight short uppercuts that can be quite effective.
Rios also tends to prefer a consistent punch output at times rather than loading up in every shot on the inside. He goes to the body and upstairs very well. Sometimes he can get caught in the middle of an exchange and overpowered during brief periods of time. When Alvarado decides to put a lot of emphasis on a single shot and manages to land it. Despite this, Rios always comes back and throws hard shots of his own.
Alvarado is a solid offensive fighter. He does his best work on the outside when he gets off first, and immediately backs away after landing a combination. He sometimes uses lateral movement and catches his opponent by surprise by suddenly lunging in with a strong uppercut or hook when his opponent least expects it.
When fighting on the inside, Alvarado is not as polished as Rios but does possess devastating power punches that can stun Rios at times. Whenever Alvarado manages to catch Rios’ attention with a hard shot, he tends to follow up with a small flurry, which may steal him a couple of close rounds. The only issue, with landing a hard shot and following up with more punches, is the fact that Rios will retaliate after a few moments have gone by, and Alvarado may stay in the pocket for too long.
What Alvarado has to be careful of is not getting too prideful. There were a few moments in their last meeting when Alvarado would get caught with a few punches and would want to retaliate right away. This strategy worked and backfired at certain times in the fight.
The department Rios lacks in. Despite having a good chin, no fighter should allow himself to be hit too often in a fight because they are essentially giving rounds away. Rios can be too flat footed when receiving fire from the outside, and even though he’s displayed certain maneuvers to block and slip punches he will undoubtedly be tagged with big punches in this upcoming clash. When he goes into a defensive position, he tends to raise his high guard and tuck his chin in, which leaves him vulnerable to punches around the guard.
Whenever Rios receives or believes a solid punch is heading his way, he tends to shell up momentarily in a high guard. While remaining flatfooted, and leaves himself vulnerable to combination punching for small brief periods of time. This will allow Alvarado to feint or land a shot causing Rios to go into a defensive posture, thus given Alvarado the chance to either followup or slip away.
Alvarado fought very intelligently in his second meeting with Rios. He used lateral movement to buy time and to create space. He used feints to force Rios into a defensive position thus giving him the opportunity to slip away momentarily. He showed decent head movement on the inside and also smothered and clinched effectively, whenever Rios managed to cut the ring off.
Even though, Alvarado at times has defensive lulls by staying within punching range without using head movement or throwing punches and giving Rios the opportunity to get land his shots. He doesn’t do it too often in the fight. He has the awareness to correct his mistakes the very next round.
Alvarado’s defensive awareness, maneuvers, and techniques displayed in their second fight should prevent Rios from overwhelming him, which should allow Alvarado to hear the end of the 12th round.
· Rios is 28 years old while Alvarado is 34
· People have speculated Alvarado is worn out due to his tough battles against Brandon Rios, Ruslan Provodnikov, and Juan Manuel Marquez
· Alvarado had had recent trouble with the law that may have affected his focus in training camp and it might show up on fight night.
· Alvarado is fighting in his hometown. Alvarado will probably get the nod if it’s a close bout that goes to the scorecards.
· Alvarado’s hometown should slightly help his energy level to remain high during tough times in the bout.
Both fighters have a legitimate chance of winning the bout that is why the odds are relatively close. Many people are banking on Rios’ youth and the perception that Alvarado is at the tail end of his career to be the deciding factor in the fight. Alvarado at age 34, coming off very demanding matchups against Marquez, Provodkinov, and Rios have people questioning if Alvarado has enough left to endure another grueling bout.
Despite this Alvarado should still manage to earn a unanimous decision victory. He has demonstrated he already knows how to implement the correct game plan in order to defeat Rios. Alvarado will use lateral movement to create space, and smother whenever Rios manages to cut off the ring. These tactics will help negate Rios’ offensive attack from overwhelming him, but Alvarado will still have to prepare himself for a physically demanding fight. Both fighters will have success in spots. Alvarado’s willingness to get off first the majority of times. Land his punches from long range, having the ability to regroup himself after being stunned and the fact he’s fighting in his hometown should allow him to get the decision in a very competitive bout.