Alvarado vs. Rios 3 – ‘Mile High’ Makes His Last Stand

Mike Alvarado - Chris Farina6
Photo By Chris Farina

Prizefighters who make their mark by engaging in brutal, crowd-pleasing slugfests, are always on borrowed time. It’s for the same reason an NFL running back has a career length of about two-and-a-half years–getting hit frequently is really, really bad for you.

For Mike Alvarado, an elite high school wrestler who jumped into the boxing game later than most, the clock has been ticking for awhile. A puncher with decent technique, Alvarado has at times been able to show some boxing skills, but he’s often preferred to toss things aside and just go to war.

For a long time, it worked. He rattled off 33 straight victories, including sound wins over the always underrated Mauricio Herrera, and the hard punching Breidis Prescott. Then, on October 13, 2012, he ran into Brandon Rios for the first time. The fight was billed as a can’t-miss firefight, and it lived up to the hype.

The two brawlers battered the hell out of each other until Rios wobbled Alvarado in the seventh round. Alvarado was badly hurt, and referee Pat Russell shut him down. It may have been a premature stoppage depending on who you asked, but either way, Alvarado had tasted defeat for the first time.

He rebounded less than six months later in the rematch. It started out as another war, but this time Alvarado changed tactics. He finally started boxing, and he pulled ahead from the cement-headed Rios for the unanimous-decision win.

His handlers then rewarded him by sticking him in the ring with Russian psychopath, Ruslan Provodnikov. It did not go well. Though Alvarado was making his homecoming appearance in Denver, Provo didn’t get the memo to lighten up on the hometown hero.

Alvarado was utterly overwhelmed and smashed to bits. Worse, the warrior suffered the indignity of having to quit on his stool. What Alvarado probably needed was a long rest and a reassessment of his career.

Instead, he got another horrific beating seven months later, this time at the hands of urine quaffing, suddenly superhuman looking Juan Manuel Marquez. This time, Alvarado at least went the distance. But it was cold comfort for a man who had suddenly lost three of his last four fights.

So what’s left for a guy who’s been run through the veritable gauntlet for the past couple of years?

Probably the only fight that makes sense at this point–the rubber match with Rios. It feels like this is cashing out, no? Both fighters have declined since their absolute primes, though it appears like Alvarado is the worse for wear. Taking on Rios twice, then Provo and JMM will certainly exacerbate a man’s decline–but Rios is far from lithe at this point.

Indeed, he was outworked and badly outboxed by Alvarado in their second fight, and then completely schooled by Manny Pacquiao in China. His return bout against Diego Chaves in August of last year did not exactly go smoothly. It was a mostly hideous display that Vic “YOU’RE HOLDING, ASSHOLE” Drakulich completely lost control of. Though he got the DQ win, the fight did nothing to dispel the notion that he is following Alvarado out the door.

Mike Alvarado is a grown man, with the ability to make his own decisions, but it’s hard to shake the feeling like he’s been thrown to the wolves, similarly to the way Kelly Pavlik was when things started to unravel for him after the Bernard Hopkins fight.

Then there’s this, which is nothing new–a fighter getting himself into trouble. But couple the legal issues with the perception that Alvarado is on his last legs as a fighter. That’s a very dangerous combination.

The good news for Alvarado is that if he can summon one more solid performance, Rios is there to be beaten. And he’s certainly no mystery–he’s going to come forward and use his head to block punches. If “Mile High” can get those legs working for 12 rounds, he can win this fight. Winning the fight means setting himself up for another payday. Losing means the end of the road, at least as a marquee name.

After four brutal fights in a row, there will be no reprieve here for Alvarado. Brandon Rios is going to come after him hard, especially after seeing him go through hell lately. And while it’s clear that Rios has faded, he’ll tear right through Alvarado if he sees that he’s weak.

At the very least, it should be an extremely entertaining scrap between two men fighting to save their careers. For Rios, it’s another chance to prove that he is a warrior who won’t be broken. For Alvarado, it’s a chance at redemption, if even for a night. Perhaps a win will stave off some of the demons, or at least give him a little perspective on some of the choices he’s made out of the ring.

The guy could use a win. Certainly, he could use a break.

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Some Random Notes From Around The Boxing World:

Well it only took three weeks for boxing to rip out our souls, as Canelo vs. Cotto is dead. How long before that other fight everyone is talking about follows suit?

Deontay Wilder surprised quite a few of us Saturday night. He used his jab nicely, he kept his distance, he showed the trademark power, and above all, he remained upright. Stiverne on the other hand, laid a giant, unpleasant deuce in the middle of the ring. Looking like Eeyore and sounding like Barry White on opium, he attempted (bafflingly) to chase Wilder around the ring, frequently running into all of the American’s punches without throwing a damn thing in return.

Wilder now sets himself up for big things. While a fight with Wladimir Klitschko is still a terrible idea for him, a bout with English giant (and super humble guy) Tyson Fury would be fun.

Amir Imam and Fidel Maldonado gave us a hell of a fight in the Showtime opener on Saturday night. Between all the knockdowns, and Maldonado looking like he’d been shot every time he went down, it was an absolute blast to watch. And here’s something new–I’m going to give props to a ref, as Robert Byrd made an excellent call in stopping the fight, against Maldonado’s wishes. Fidel was done. Good for Byrd.

But… It’s not all wine and roses here, as we can throw some snark at whoever the asshole was who let the 3rd round go about an extra twenty seconds while Maldonado tried desperately to survive. Good to see we got that whole timekeeping thing worked out…

Oh Jim Gray. This guy. How bad is it when the trainer of the guy you’re about to interview has to remind you that his man speaks perfect English? Or maybe Jimbo thought Maldonado was so concussed he couldn’t respond? Either way, it was awesome.

The broadcast badly missed Brian Kenny’s presence. Human Brillo Pad would have at least uttered the dreaded name “Klitschko” at some point. Instead Mauro “LOUD NOISES!” Ranallo spat out his name about four hours into the show. But that would ruin things, right fellas? Mentioning the real Heavyweight champ. Instead of respecting the viewer, we’re treated like morons.

Somebody is going to feel pretty guilty when Jermain Taylor butchers a bunch of people.

Al Haymon sure had some tricks up his sleeve, eh? Good thing this was all Stephen Espinoza’s plan, or he’d look like a complete dumbass.

But what the hell is with the Garcia vs. Peterson fight? Are we going to start seeing catchweight fights that use decimal points? “Garcia barely squeaks in under the 143.85 pound limit with a weight of 143.799999999999999.”

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