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Friday, March 29, 2013
Rios-Alvarado II: 'It is never too soon'

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- The final news conference before any fight almost always features the boxers and promoter hyping the impending match to the hilt. They'll talk about how fans shouldn't miss it because it will be a great fight, blah, blah, blah.

But when junior welterweights Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios and Mike Alvarado and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum had the chance to speak at Thursday's final news conference, there was very little any of them had to say in order to sell their rematch. Hype wasn't needed.

"Everybody has seen these two warriors fight," Arum said. "The fight that they had last year at the Home Depot [Center in Carson, Calif.] was an instant classic, right up there as a fight of the year candidate. Many people voted it fight of the year. It was just edged out by the [Juan Manuel] Marquez-[Manny] Pacquiao fight. But it was a great, great fight and everybody who watched it was thrilled and inspired by the performance of these two warriors."

Arum was not overstating matters.

In October, former lightweight titleholder Rios, 26, stopped Alvarado on his feet in the seventh round of a thrilling back-and-forth slugfest -- two judges had the fight 57-57 and Rios led 58-56 on the third scorecard at the time of the knockout -- that was reminiscent of some of the great fights of recent years, such as Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo, Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward and Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez, showdowns that all produced sequels.

Brandon Rios, Mike Alvarado
Brandon Rios hammered out a seventh-round TKO against Mike Alvarado last October, but it was a close, brutally physical battle until the end.

"I'm here to redeem myself and put on another great show," said Alvarado, 32. "I take my hat off to Rios for accepting this rematch. I hope everybody is excited to see another classic fight. Here we go again."

Rios added: "We'll be in there man-to-man, toe-to-toe. Everybody around the world will love this fight again."

They sure loved it the first time around, which is why five months after their first encounter, Rios and Alvarado will meet again Saturday in a highly anticipated fight. The first time around, Rios-Alvarado was a 10-round undercard bout. This time it's the 12-round main event, in which they will battle for a vacant 140-pound interim world title.

"I knew it was going to turn into that kind of fight and I had prepared for a war," Alvarado said of the first bout. "And that's the kind of fight it ended up being."

"I was very amazed," Rios said of the unrelenting action. "It was like watching an Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward fight. I couldn't believe we stood up to the big shots. We were both landing big shots, going toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring. I am a big fan -- mine and his -- so it was awesome.

"I am very hyped up to meet another warrior in the ring like myself. We want to give the fans what they want -- another fight. It's going to be a great fight, and I couldn't be any more excited."

In the scheduled 10-round co-feature, Miami-based Colombia native Breidis Prescott (26-4, 20 KOs), a junior welterweight contender, originally was scheduled to challenge titleholder Khabib Allakhverdiev before an elbow injury sidelined Allakhverdiev last week. Prescott, 29, instead will face 25-year-old prospect Terrence Crawford (19-0, 15 KOs) out of Omaha, Neb., who is taking a big step up in competition.

"The first fight between Brandon and Mike was excellent and we are looking for an equally good fight this time," Arum said. "Brandon and Mike know one thing -- they know how to fight and they know how to bring it."

But some have questioned whether the rematch coming so soon after such a violent first fight is for the best. Arum, who has promoted fights for more than 40 years, has put on plenty of rematches, but usually he has refrained from immediate sequels.

Brandon Rios
Brandon Rios is pumped about the prospect of another slugfest with Mike Alvarado: "We are warriors and if you are a warrior, you want to fight again and again and again."

"I don't usually like to do immediate rematches, but this first fight was really so great," said Arum, who also didn't have many other lucrative options to offer either man. "There was a demand for it to get done and the people at HBO came up with a financial package that was very appealing. Both fighters are getting considerably more than they got the first time. It's the exception that proves the rule."

Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., and Alvarado (33-1, 23 KOs), of Denver, highly respectful of each other through the promotion, both love the combat and wanted the rematch. Rios likely would have been facing Pacquiao coming off the win against Alvarado, but when Pacquiao got knocked out by Marquez in December, that plan went down the tubes.

"It's never too soon to do it again," said Rios, who loves the fight with Alvarado so much that he regularly watches the video. "We are warriors and if you are a warrior, you want to fight again and again and again. It is never too soon. The first fight was great. I feel great and I'm ready for another battle. I am just ready to do it again. I am ready for another battle. Why wait? It is never too soon."

"I agree with Brandon," Alvarado said. "I can't wait for the chance to redeem myself from the first fight, and it is a fight that everyone wants to see, so it's fight on. And we're ready to do it."

Robert Garcia, the 2012 trainer of the year and Rios' trainer, said there was no reason to wait for the inevitable rematch.

"All of Brandon's fights are hard," Garcia said. "Should we take a year off? Brandon had a war but was never hurt, was never out, was never dropped. If somebody has to worry about it, it's Alvarado because he did take a lot of punches and got knocked out."

Garcia might be on to something. Although Rios -- who is predicting a knockout inside five rounds -- and Alvarado promise another exciting fight, Alvarado said he plans to box a bit more and not get dragged into too many of the fierce toe-to-toe exchanges he so often has been in.

The fight with Rios wasn't his only memorable brawl. So were his previous two fights, a decision against Mauricio Herrera in a fight of the year candidate 11 months ago and a bloody come-from-behind knockout of Prescott in the 10th and final round in November 2011. Too many fights like those will take their toll, which is why Alvarado said he will tweak his style.

"Boxing, moving, not sitting right there -- that's what I have to do," Alvarado said. "I know I've said that before, but I didn't train in that kind of style before. This camp was way strategic. You'll see the boxer Mike Alvarado. I can help myself [from brawling]. I'm gonna show that."

Mike Alvarado
Mike Alvarado says he'll box more on Saturday than he did in his first fight with Brandon Rios, although some -- including Rios -- believe a brawl is inevitable.

Said Henry Delgado, Alvarado's trainer: "This camp was more like a thinking camp -- strategic, sticking with a game plan. The whole sessions of sparring, we stopped it when he started dropping his hands and banging. And I liked what I saw the last two weeks. He didn't have to think about it. At first he had to think about it. At the end, he was just doing it automatically. He's gonna box a lot more than he usually does. We've never practiced it, but now we have."

Rios doesn't buy it. He figures Alvarado might be able to sustain a boxing style for a couple of rounds, but when he eventually gets nailed, Rios said the natural instinct to fight will come roaring out.

"He has that revenge in his mind," Rios said. "He wants that win, so he's gonna come out banging hard. He says he's gonna box. It's not gonna be a boxing match, trust me. He can try for maybe one or two rounds, but I'll be pressuring him and then he'll go back to what we both do best.

"That's fight."