- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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LAS VEGAS -- Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado both love to fight and love to win. Nobody needs to light a fire under them when the bell rings.
But a little extra motivation never hurt anyone, which is what both men have going into Saturday's much-anticipated rematch.
The money is great -- both will earn career-high paydays: Rios $1.25 million and Alvarado $625,000 -- but they'll get paid regardless of the outcome. They are motivated by more than the cash.
Alvarado, of course, is seeking revenge for his first defeat. After being stopped by Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs) in the seventh round of their classic war in October, Alvarado (33-1, 23 KOs) has a desire to even the score.
"Having the rematch gives me an opportunity to redeem myself after the first fight," Alvarado said. "That was a good fight. I like fights like that. We are both warriors."
Some have said that referee Pat Russell's stoppage in the October fight was slightly premature (although I disagree with that, and even Alvarado no longer argues about it). But Rios heard those critics and wants to win even more convincingly this time.
"I'm going for the 10-count [knockout] because I don't want to leave no doubts in [Alvarado's] mind or his trainer's mind that the referee stopped it," Rios said.
But perhaps the greatest motivation for both fighters is the fact that a title is on the line. It probably doesn't matter to most fans, and I couldn't care less about it, but the boxers do.
Their first fight was a 10-round nontitle affair. Saturday's bout will be contested for an interim 140-pound world title. Juan Manuel Marquez -- a possible future opponent for the winner -- holds the full title even though he has been fighting at welterweight and never defended at 140.
Marquez is likely to vacate at some point and is unlikely to fight at 140 again. If he fought the winner, it would probably be in the welterweight division. So the winner of Rios-Alvarado II almost surely will be elevated to full titleholder.
And that is also part of the motivation for Rios and Alvarado.
"I want to be a two-time world champion, so I got more motivation," said Rios, a former lightweight titleholder. "I want it so badly because I want to get to the next level. Five rounds. I'm getting him out of there in five rounds. I'm going for a knockout. I'm ready."
Alvarado has fought for regional titles but never for a world title.
"The title adds more fuel to the fire," Alvarado said. "The title, the redemption. It motivates me that much more. It pushes me more. I'm more motivated, definitely."
LAS VEGAS -- Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado both love to fight and love to win. Nobody needs to light a fire under them when the bell rings.But a little extra motivation never hurt anyone, which is what both men have going into Saturday's much-anticipated rematch.