Five keys for Mike Alvarado
Plotting a path to victory for Saturday's rematch against Brandon Rios
With the opportunity to grab a vacant junior welterweight interim title and avenge his only professional defeat, Mike Alvarado should be sufficiently motivated when he tangles with Brandon Rios in Saturday's rematch.
Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado II
Where: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas
When: Saturday, 10:15 p.m. ET/PT
The fight unfolds under the weight of great expectations. In their first epic battle, Rios (31-0, 22 KOs) seemed to take the worst of the punishment in the early rounds, but he never faltered. He kept the pressure on Alvarado (33-1, 23 KOs), trading punches in violent exchanges and eventually staggering Alvarado on the ropes to force the stoppage. Alvarado claims he'll box more to stay out of trouble in the rematch, but Rios isn't buying it. Can Alvarado make the proper adjustments?
Here are five keys to victory for Alvarado against Rios:
Show your moves
The first fight taught Alvarado that open exchanges aren't the best approach against such a tough, resilient opponent. He should establish his jab, keep Rios at distance and never stop moving laterally. Alvarado should concentrate on punching from different angles from the get-go, throwing his powerful straight right and long volleys over the left arm of Rios.
Need for space
As good as he is, Rios is predictable, always attacking in the same fashion. And because he's most effective in reduced spaces, Alvarado must avoid fighting at short range and accept the exchanges at distance, where his foe's punches lose some steam. Remember the fourth and fifth rounds of the first fight? When Alvarado throws long-range bombs, his combinations are more powerful than those of Rios.
Time is money
Getting in a rush against Rios, who has so much stamina, doesn't make sense. Alvarado must be patient, imitating the intelligent defensive tactics used by Richard Abril against Rios last April: Wait, elude and finish rounds strong, always assuming the fight will go the distance. Additionally, it will help Alvarado preserve his energy -- the main factor that conspired against him in last October's defeat.
Step back, jump in
When Rios defends, he does so with a hermetic guard that is difficult to penetrate from the inside. Alvarado's only option will be to retreat and counterpunch with a double combination to the body. Moving in and out will prevent an immediate response and also confound an opponent who often loses his defensive balance when he loses his point of reference.
Forget the past, seize the present
Concentration and determination will be key factors for Alvarado. He's coming off losing his undefeated status against Rios in what is widely considered the fight of his life. Now he has to keep from being intimidated by the previous result and instead use the loss as motivation, banking on Rios' excessive confidence. He will need to climb into the ring with more than one plan, figuring out on the fly which strategy to apply and doing so with cold-blooded single-mindedness.
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