Saturday night in Broomfield, Colorado, Mike Alvarado enjoyed home-field advantage as he met Brandon Rios for a third time. It’s hard to assign much significance to the bout as it relates to the welterweight division—no title was on the line and both prizefighters’ status as second-tier opponents is certified by now—but the result would undoubtedly have a tremendous impact on both of their careers. Coming off lackluster performances and high-profile defeats against top talents, both “Bam Bam” and “Mile High” desperately needed a win to re-instate their relevance at 147-pounds. Taking into consideration that their first two fights offered plenty of action and drama, the stage seemed set at the 1st Bank Center in Colorado for a thrilling ending to the Rios vs. Alvarado trilogy, and perhaps even the first contender for Fight of the Year in 2015.
Far from a dramatic affair, the third installment of Rios vs Alvarado offered a one-sided beating of the hometown hero at the hands of Rios. For three brutal rounds, “Bam Bam” stalked and punished Alvarado in front of his fans, outlanding him by a margin of 6-to-1 and connecting 40 punches per round on average. With little in the way of response from a woefully out-of-shape and unfocused Alvarado, Rios had his way from the opening bell, launching pummeling left hooks and merciless uppercuts that snapped Alvarado’s head back and drew “Oohs!” and “Aahs!” from the crowd.
In the second round, following a particularly vicious rally from Rios, Alvarado connected his most effective punch of the night: a blatant low blow that he hoped would halt the onslaught. Unfortunately for Alvarado, a lot more than a low blow would’ve been necessary this night to stop the fiercely determined Rios, who continued firing at will. His face tattooed with traces of Rios’ lead-fisted assault, Alvarado couldn’t find it in himself to mount any sort of attack—he landed only 20 punches in nine minutes of action—and went down in the third round after a left-uppercut/left-hook/right-uppercut combination from Rios took away the last vestige of his will to compete. Even though Alvarado survived to hear the bell that round, he refused to come out for the next stanza, despite his corner’s implorations.
While some may be moved to view Rios’ destruction of Alvarado as a clear sign of rejuvenation in “Bam Bam”, it’s imperative to put his victory in perspective. Alvarado was not only distracted by legal troubles before the encounter, but also acknowledged in the post-fight interview that he didn’t train properly—his late night escapades were well documented during his training camp going into last night’s fight. Meanwhile, Rios allegedly had one of the best training camps of his career, fully aware that his career was on the line and that bigger fights would be all but impossible to get without a win against Alvarado. Needless to say, Rios’ focus and determination paid off big time in the ring last night.
Still, it’s hard to say where exactly Rios can go from here. His name remains a hit with the Latino community, but his skills also remain restricted and significantly smaller than his heart. Speaking to Jim Lampley after the fight, he mentioned the possibility of fighting “the Russian” (allegedly, Ruslan Provodnikov) or Victor Ortiz. Both fights could provide fireworks and make for entertaining spectacle, which is as much as we can ask for from the courageous, but limited, Rios.
Mike Alvarado’s standing after last night is much more precarious. Twice he has tried to attain glory in his hometown, and twice the match ended with him a broken fighter on his stool, refusing to answer the bell. It says a lot about the Colorado-native’s character that he failed to prepare properly for a headlining bout in his home town with his career on the line. If an occasion such as last night’s failed to rouse Alvarado’s competitive fire, there’s little reason to think anything else will. Make no mistake about it: the chance for Alvarado to headline again will be his for the taking, given that he’s one of only a handful of Top Rank welterweights that Bob Arum has no choice but to keep recycling.
However, with his pitiful performance last night—a product of Alvarado’s own inability to get his shit together in anticipation of a big bout—Mike should consider retirement as the healthy choice. Unfortunately, if his post-fight declarations are any indication, you can expect to see him in the ring again in the not too distant future. We can only pray that he begins taking the sport more seriously than he did going into the rubbermatch with Rios, otherwise he runs the risk of incurring severe consequences to his well-being.