By Ivan G. Goldman
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fight stopped without some wacko complaining that the referee stepped in too soon, and the first Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado bout was no exception. So let me try to make this as clear as I can. Alvarado was done. Unresponsive, eyes glassy. little birds flying around his skull.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Referee Pat Russell engineered as righteous a stoppage in round seven as you’ll ever see. Not a moment too early or too late. It’s easy for an idiot to be a superhero when he’s pounding a keyboard at home, but taking shots from Rios when there’s no defense left in the tank is a little different than sitting on a sofa with beer and hot wings. A guy can get killed like that, and I’m not talking about the dweeb with a chicken bone in his teeth. Now, on to the rematch this Saturday.
Old-timers say that when one fighter scores a kayo over another and they are matched again, usually the same winner emerges, but he gets it done in an earlier round. After the loser from Fight One starts taking punches in Fight Two his brain and body remember why he got kayoed the first time, and the pattern repeats itself, only a little quicker.
Alvarado, 33-1 (23 KOs), knowing that Rios, 31-0-1 (23 KOs), is also aware of this, will expect him to be a little overconfident this time. That’s why they call it the sweet science. It can get complicated. Take the stock market. Sometimes when all the big investors like a stock, it can go down instead of up because they all own it already and there’s no one left to buy it anymore. What everybody knows turns into a weapon that works against what everybody expects.
Both fighters say they expect their toe-to-toe battle from last October to recommence after a five-month break. Fighters often promise wars and deliver something else, but these two, after fighting one of the great fights of 2012, have earned credibility in spades. Their chemistry is similar to what we saw between Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez . It’s a formula of respect tinged with quasi-homicidal intentions.
Their promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank says HBO, hungry for the rematch, “came up with a financial package that was very appealing. Both fighters are getting considerably more than they got the first time.” That’s a win-win situation for fighters and fans. Exciting match-up, no pay-per-view chicanery.
Rios was talking about both of them when he said, “We can try to change it up in the gym, but once the bell rings and we get hit we go back to doing what we know how to do. That’s the warrior mentality that comes out of us.”
As for the nut cases who think the first fight — in Carson, California — was stopped too soon, listen to what Alvarado said at a recent press conference:
“Having the rematch gives me an opportunity to redeem myself after the first fight.” Fighters who think they got screwed by the officials don’t talk about redeeming themselves. Sure, moments after the fight Alvarado said he thought it was stopped a little early, but moments after the fight Alvarado was only semi-conscious. He’s watched the tapes since then. And so has Rios.
“Even today I watched our match,” Rios said . “I wake up in the morning and when I get back from my run I watch our fight. After I go to the gym, I watch it. Before I go to bed, I watch it. I am a fan of our fight.”
The first bout came down to a battle between chins. They took equally terrible punishment. In fact, two of the three judges had scored it a draw going into the seventh. So the question came down to which one could remain standing.
An “interim” WBO junior welterweight title will be on the line Saturday at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, which means alphabet bandits are taking cuts out of the fighters’ purses without awarding the actual title, which lately, according to the WBO, belongs to Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez.
Ivan G. Goldman’s boxing novel The Barfighter was nominated as a 2009 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Information HERE