By: William Holmes
It’s not often that an undercard fight gets more hype than the main event, especially when the main event features Nonito Donaire, a boxer in almost everyone’s top five pound for pound list.
On Saturday night Top Rank Promotions will broadcast a card on HBO that most boxing fans are eagerly anticipating. Donaire will take on the well regarded Japanese fighter Toshiaki Nishioka in the main event, and Mike Alvarado will be fighting Brandon Rios in a co-feature that promises to be an all out war.
Mike Alvarado (33-0) vs. Brandon Rios (30-0); Junior Welterweight
Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios makes the jump up to the junior welterweight division after struggling to make weight twice in the lightweight division and being granted a “gift” decision over Richard Abril in April of this year.
Rios had an impressive amateur career. His record as an amateur was 230-35 and was the U.S. National Featherweight Amateur Champion in 2004, and the U.S. Olympic alternate at 125lbs.
Prior to the Abril debacle, Rios was a fast-rising star who excited fans whenever he stepped into the ring. He’ll be one inch smaller than his opponent, and his opponent will also have a one inch reach advantage. Rios is used to bullying his opponents in the lightweight division, but he may have problems doing that against the bigger Alvarado on Saturday.
Rios is known for his attacks to the body of his opponents and his aggressive style. He has 22 TKO/KO’s on his record and four out of his last five victories have been stoppages. He’s faced and defeated some tough competition, including John Murray, Miguel Acosta, and Anthony Peterson.
Mike Alvarado is six years the elder of Brandon Rios, and this is by far the biggest fight of his career.
Alvarado fought as an amateur boxer after quitting wrestling, but he does not have the depth of amateur experience that Rios has. He was, however, able to defeat Andre Dirrell as an amateur boxer.
Alvarado has had a few run-ins with the law and had previously served a five-month prison sentence. He has 23 TKO/KO’s on his record, and 3 of his last five fights have come by stoppage.
Alvarado has beaten the likes of Mauricio Herrera, Breidis Prescott, and Carlos Molina. But Alvarado has never fought someone who brings the pressure like Brandon Rios does.
Alvardo prefers to brawl rather than use his boxing technique. When he fought the much smaller Prescott he was actually losing the fight before turning it up a few notches in the later rounds.
This is a fight that will feature the type of action boxing fans salivate, and it’s a stern test for both fighters. But you have to give the edge to Rios based on his experience.
Nonito Donaire (29-1) vs. Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3); IBF & WBO Super Bantamweight Title
Dare I say it, but the Filipino Flash looked human in his last two fights against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. and the lanky Jeffrey Mathebula. He was never in serious trouble in those two fights, but they were both tougher fights than expected.
Prior to that, Donaire looked invincible. He has a deep amateur background, he won the National Silver Gloves in 1998, the National Junior Olympics in 1999, and the National USA Tournament in 2000. His lone professional loss came in the second fight of his career, a five round decision loss to Rosendo Sanchez.
Donaire started boxing professionally as a flyweight and has conquered every division from there up to the super bantamweight division. He officially made his name known with a 5th round KO victory over Vic Darchinyan in 2007. Nobody has come close to defeating him since then. He’s defeated the likes of Luis Maldonado, Raul Martinez, Mernan Marquez, Fernando Montiel, and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. He has 18 TKO/KO’s on his record.
However, Donaire may be near or at the limit of what weight class he can fight in. His face was surprisingly bruised after his fight with Jeffrey Mathebula, and it’s doubtful he’ll be able to continue his success if he continues to move up in weight.
Toshiaki Nishioka is not well known to the US boxing fans, but he’s hugely popular in Japan. Nishioka is 36-years-old, which is ancient for boxers who fight in the smaller weight classes.
Nishioka’s nickname is the “Speed King”, and he made his name known with his four fight series with the former WBC bantamweight champion Veeraphol Nakonluang-Promotion. Even though Nishioka went 0-2-2 against Nakonluang-Promotion, he won a lot of fans for his showing of heart.
Nishioka has spent most of his career fighting in Japan, but this is not his first trip to the United States and he shouldn’t have problems fighting on the main stage. Nishioka is a southpaw, which might give Donaire some problems. Nishioka also has decent power: 24 of his victories have come by way of TKO or KO.
Nishioka has held the WBC Super Bantamweight title since a 12th round TKO victory over Genaro Garcia in 2009. Nishioka has not lost since. He TKO’d the always tough Jhonny Gonzalez, and beaten the likes of Rendall Munroe, Mauricio Javier Munoz, and Rafael Marquez.
If Donaire takes punches from Nishioka like he did against Jeffrey Mathebula, he will be in trouble. But Nishioka is much older than Donaire and hasn’t fought in over a year. Age and ring rust will certainly be a factor.
You have to give the edge to Donaire, but it will be very interesting to see who he’ll fight next if he gets by Nishioka.