Preview: Rios-Alvarado III completes trilogy, HBO Sat., 10 p.m. ET

Mike Alvarado (left) and Brandon Rios enjoy themselves at Friday's boxing weigh-in. Photo: Ed Mulholland/HBO
Mike Alvarado (left) and Brandon Rios enjoy themselves at Friday's weigh-in. Photo: Ed Mulholland/HBO

SAN DIEGO, January 23, 2015 For sheer boxing entertainment, no two fighters bring the action like Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado.

Two guys, two fights, 19 rounds, over 3,000 punches between the pair.

Not since Arturo Gatti tangled with Micky Ward has there been a more inevitable trilogy than Rios-Alvarado III. They have been heading for this match-up ever since their last meeting in March 2013.

Rios vs. Alvarado III takes place in Alvarado’s hometown of Denver, Colorado, and airs on HBO Boxing on Saturday, January 24, at 10 p.m. ET.

When Rios first met Alvarado on the undercard of HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” in October 2012, the toe-to-toe brawl turned out to be the Fight of the Year. When asked if he’d fight Alvarado again after his seventh round TKO victory, Rios yelled to the crowd, “The fans, you want it?” They roared back, and Rios said “You want it? (Eff) it, let’s do it.”

Rarely does a rematch hyped like Rios-Alvarado II live up to expectations, but it did. Six month later in March 2013, Alvarado won a close unanimous decision over Rios, handing Rios his first defeat and evening the score in their series. It was 115-113 on two scorecards, and 114-113 on the third. Alvarado won three of the last four rounds on two scorecards and all four on a third to pull out the fight.

Following the fight, Alvarado said, “Brandon gave me a shot to redeem myself, I’ll give him a shot for the trilogy.”

“I won the first won, now they want to make the third one,” Rios said. “Let’s make the third one.” Rios said at the time he’d fight in Alvarado’s home town.

Fight fans were giddy at the prospect of getting Rios-Alvarado III on the calendar right away, but Top Rank’s Bob Arum said he wanted to see both fighters face new opponents first. “Are these guys going to fight again?” Arum asked. “Of course they will. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be next.”

In the nearly two years since then, Rios lost to Manny Pacquiao, and won under odd circumstances when opponent Diego Chavez of Argentina was disqualified for intentional fouls; Alvarado lost tough bouts to Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Now the time has come to see if Rios and Alvarado join the likes of Ali-Norton, Gatti-Ward and Morales-Barrera in the history of great boxing trilogies. Certain fighters fit together like a hand in a glove. It’s more than the fact both Rios and Alvarado are warriors. They’ve both been in the ring with equally aggressive fighters. It’s like the chemistry between two people that can’t always be explained.

There is nothing subtle about boxer Brandon Rios, training here with Robert Garcia. Photo: Courtesy Top Rank
There is nothing subtle about Brandon Rios, training here with Robert Garcia. Photo: Courtesy Top Rank

Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios is a fearless fighter to the point of being too reckless for his own good. He is blessed with a jaw of titanium and tremendous will. He is willing to take a punch to dish out a punch, but time and punishment will catch up with him. Fighters like Rios don’t last for 40 or 50 bouts in a career.

Mike ”Mile High” Alvarado has more pure boxing skills than Rios and when he puts them to work, he gets the best of Rios. But just like his friend Rios, Alvarado can brawl and can withstand the same punishing treatment as Rios, who hit him repeatedly with body shots, sharp right and left hooks and upper cuts, the kind of punches would have dropped most other boxers.

If Mike Alvarado can box and stay disciplined, he can win on Saturday. Photo: Courtesy Top Rank
If Mike Alvarado can box and stay disciplined, he can win on Saturday. Photo: Courtesy Top Rank

Alvarado is a more skilled fighter than people give him credit for. He’s mixed it up with Rios plenty, but when he can deploy better control of the ring and defensive skills, he can get the better of Rios. Rios can win a brawl, but he can’t out box Alvarado.

In the last fight, Alvarado landed 261 punches to 241 for Rios. Over half of these shots were to the head. Both fighters missed the post-fight news conference; they headed straight to local hospitals for CT scans. You have to cringe at the thought of these two fighting this hard again and not at least a little smarter.

Rios and Alvarado respect and like each other outside the ring. Much like Gatti and Ward who became close friends, these two know each other and have been good for each other professionally. They joked and enjoyed each other’s company at Friday’s weigh-in. No tense staredowns here. Rios weighed in at 146.75, good news as he’s had trouble making weight in the past. Alvarado weighed in at 146.5.

See a video compilation of Rios and Alvarado in their first two bouts here.

In the co-feature, young Mexican super middleweight Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez will fight for the first time on HBO for an American audience against Russian Maxim Vlasov in a 10-round catchweight bout at 171 pounds. Ramirez is a southpaw; “Zurdo” means “Lefty” in Spanish.

Ramirez (30-0, 24 KOs), age 23, has the marketing potential to be a star along the lines of countryman Canelo Alvarez. He’s a tall, charismatic, good-looking guy with punching power. He’s learning English and seems to relish all the promotional obligations that come with being an elite athlete. What’s not to like about that? Ramirez is riding a four-knockout streak against fairly solid opposition. He is the kind of prospect promoters and TV networks drool over. This will be a test of his capacity to join the next generation of boxing stars.

Gilberto Ramirez (left) and Maxim Vlasov at the Friday weigh-in. Ramirez is poised to be the next big Mexican boxing star. Photo: Ed Mulholland/HBO
Gilberto Ramirez (left) and Maxim Vlasov at the Friday weigh-in. Ramirez is poised to be the next big Mexican boxing star. Photo: Ed Mulholland/HBO

Vlasov (30-1, 15 KOs), age 28, has fought quite a bit in the U.S., mainly in California, but he has not faced any major opponents. He got some attention for a barn-burner fight in 2011, a loss to South African Isaac Chilemba. Vlasov said the opportunity to fight on HBO was worth working to make the catchweight. Vlasov made the weight by a pound; Ramirez weighed in at 170.5 pounds.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News when quoting from or linking to this story.  

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