Demolition Derby in Denver


Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank Promotions

Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank Promotions


This weekend at the 1stBank Center near Denver, Co., friendly rivals Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado again swap leather in what isn’t so much a prizefight as it is a demolition derby. When they first met in 2012, they were both undefeated and thought to be in the thick of their physical primes. Fast forward to 2015 and they are weathered and worn from the rough terrain they have traveled.


Each time they squared off, they left pieces of each other inside the ring.


And since their initial match-up, they have been put through the proverbial meat grinder as their limitations and lack of self-discipline left them exposed to superior practitioners of the sport.


But in many respects, as HBO and Top Rank Promotions kicked off their 2015, this was the perfect pairing.


“Absolutely,” stated Bob Arum, “They had two really good fights; they came to fight. I think it’s an absolute no-brainer. One thing we know is that it’s going to be an entertaining fight.”


No pound-for-pound rankings will be at stake this weekend. In fact, this bout doesn’t really have all that much importance in the welterweight division. It is, as Arum stated, a good ol’ fashioned donnybrook. Sometimes that in itself is good enough. Certain guys – and feuds – are built for one another, whether they’re Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez or Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales.


You can call them “peanut butter and jelly” because they go perfectly together. But in reality, Rios and Alvarado aren’t in the class of the aforementioned fighters. Perhaps this duo is the Mexican-American version of Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward, two honest pluggers who were never truly elite but were meant to be associated with one another.


Magic happened.


“Absolutely, absolutely, because you don’t know who’s going to win and they’re sorta equal in talent and therefore, they come to fight and they’re natural, natural matches. That’s always been the case in boxing, like when Jake LaMotta and Sugar Ray Robinson fought five times. Look at Ali, three fights with [Ken] Norton, three fights with Frazier,” stated Arum. “Those trilogies in those days were not unusual and today with all the machinations with all the people involved, with all the bullshit going on, it happens infrequently but that’s really a commentary on how fucked up the business is now.”


Cynically, the other reason this fight makes sense is, quite frankly, there may not be that many other guys these days who can be effective against the elite. Since their first go-round, Rios was defeated by Alvarado in their rematch, blanked by Manny Pacquiao and then struggled mightily versus Diego Chaves in his most recent outing. Since evening the score against Rios in March of 2013, Alvarado was then bludgeoned by Ruslan Provodnikov in front of his partisan fans and was outclassed by Juan Manuel Marquez.


More alarming is, outside the ring, Alvarado finds trouble in the “Mile High City” as easily as you can find Coors Light in Denver. For a quick moment, this rubber match seemed to be in jeopardy as he once again ran afoul of the law with gun charges. With some fighters, you’d describe this as turbulent; for Alvarado, it’s just another Tuesday.


Rios is now 28, Alvarado 34, but they just seem much older; don’t they? No matter what their birth certificates say, they are much longer in the tooth in boxing years. With their respective lifestyles and mentalities inside the ring, they weren’t built for the long haul. Their primes are probably behind them and you get the sense that if this were a pro wrestling match, it would be billed as a “Loser Leaves Town” bout while the winner stays around this level to perhaps get fed to the likes of Tim Bradley (or anyone else eligible to fight on HBO).


But Arum disagrees with this notion.


“Because let’s assume it’s another great fight and one guy wins, one guy loses; the fact that he’s lost, so what? People recognize that he is the kind of fighter who will always give a good account of himself and entertain the fans.”


They may not have much left, but whatever is remaining in their respective tanks just goes together perfectly.





If you haven’t had a chance to watch the special, here is the link to the full show.


Road to Alvarado-Rios 3: Full Show





Here’s the latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:


The Next Round Episode 514: #RiosAlvarado3 Preview





Yes, I will be at Alvarado-Rios III. I was at the first two; why stop now?…There will be a Thursday morning presser at the Viacom offices in Los Angeles to announce Al Haymon’s latest television deal with Spike (which will kickoff on March 13 with a main event between Andre Berto and Josesito Lopez. And yes, this presser is “invite only” and most of the regular boxing media was not made aware of it…A HBO Latino card on Feb. 28 in San Antonio is being planned that will feature Francisco Vargas-Will Tomlinson and Antonio Orozco-Emmanuel Taylor…Julio Cesar Chavez Jr vs. Andrzej Fonfara is planned for April 18, which just happens to be the same day Terence Crawford could be headlining again in Omaha, Neb…Do deflated footballs really matter in 45-7 (or whatever the score was) blowouts in that Patriots-Colts game?…Speaking of Spike, when is “Bar Rescue” back?…Can Brad Kaaya salvage this upcoming recruiting class of Miami’s by sheer will?…I can be reached at and I tweet (a lot) at I also share photos of stuff at and I now can also be found at



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