Five things we learned: Alvarado-Rios III

Brandon Rios was victorious in the third fight of his all-action rivalry against Mike Alvarado on Saturday night by scoring a third-round stoppage at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado.

Here are five things we learned from Rios’ victory:

1. It was over before it started

It took somewhere between 30 seconds and a full minute to gain an accurate feel as to how this fight was going to end. Alvarado came out tentative, with the kind of body language to suggest he lacked confidence. To make matters worse, he was barely throwing any punches. Rios (33-2-1, 24 KOs), meanwhile, looked every bit as motivated and in shape as he said he was coming in. He swarmed Alvarado (34-3, 23 KOs) with power shots throughout, including a vicious right uppercut that simply couldn’t miss. But the story of the fight proved to be one that many were leery about coming in -- Alvarado, 34, is simply not the same guy. With legal issues looming outside the ring and too many wars in succession on his résumé catching up with him, Alvarado proved that both his head and his heart just weren’t in it on this night. Both referee Jay Nady and the ring doctor did the right thing in calling a halt to the bout following a damaging Round 3 in which Alvarado tasted the canvas for the first time in the rivalry.

2. Rios isn’t done yet

At 28, whispers of Rios’ rapid decline thanks to excess damage filled the air just as much as they did for Alvarado entering the fight. But Rios not only scored a much-needed win to quiet even his own talk of premature retirement, he looked fresh and dangerous in doing so. Entering the fight in the best shape of his career, Rios moved well and was constantly on the offensive. After the bout, Rios said the win saved his career. And he wasn’t far off from the standpoint of holding serve as a must-see main event fighter and avoiding a free fall into gatekeeper status. Rios would make an interesting opponent for just about anyone whom promoter Top Rank does business with, from Timothy Bradley Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez to fellow brawlers Ruslan Provodnikov and -- provided the politics can be worked out -- Lucas Matthysse. Sign me up for all of the above.

3. Alvarado deserves criticism

It’s a harsh reality for any fighter to face, but Saturday’s fight looked like the end of the road for Alvarado, who put forth a lifeless performance after looking distracted and distant in the week leading up to the fight. It’s not surprising when you consider he faces possible jail time after being arrested on Jan. 3 for possessing a handgun as a convicted felon. But it was also unprofessional and climaxed with a profoundly sad postfight interview. As his hometown fans booed him in the background, an emotionally charged Alvarado told HBO’s Jim Lampley that he was far from his best on this night and it was his preparation that was to blame. “I wasn’t training as I should have been and this is what I get. I ain’t done yet. I’m far from done. I didn’t give it all I got. So this is whatever. It is what it is.” Alvarado thrilled fans in recent years with a meteoric run from relative unknown to action star, making a name for himself by creating chaos in the ring just as the same was happening for him outside of it. And while his boxing future is very much uncertain, here’s to hoping he can find peace in his personal life.

4. It was an anticlimactic ending to a great trilogy

Rios and Alvarado were simply made for each other -- a pair of warriors with unrelenting styles and nearly unbreakable wills who put on two violent classics that quickly entered the pantheon of great action fights. But they had an opportunity in their rubber match for their rivalry to make a leap into the upper room of history. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. This fight certainly wasn’t enough to remove Alvarado-Rios from anyone’s list of best trilogies. In fact, many of the top rivalries -- including Gatti-Ward and Barrera-Morales -- featured one fight of the three that wasn’t up to the level of the rest. But it did leave a somewhat sour aftertaste thanks to the quick, one-sided nature of the fight, failing to give the rivalry that one final exclamation point to be remembered by.

5. Ramirez’s hard-earned win will be valuable

It wasn’t the showcase knockout that super middleweight Gilberto Ramirez may have expected coming in. But thanks to the guts and boxing acumen of Maxim Vlasov in Saturday’s co-main event, the unbeaten prospect nicknamed “Zurdo” was able to score a victory that is likely much more valuable. Ramirez’s cardio was pushed to the limit and his toughness was tested in his close unanimous-decision win. Ramirez (30-0, 24 KOs), whose aim is to become boxing’s next great Mexican star, was far from exposed, yet certain deficiencies were revealed. It’s a bit of a wake-up call for Ramirez against a tough opponent in a step-up fight, which is what every young boxer needs.