Their fight was the preliminary to a Nonito Donaire title bout but when the card and its televised segment were done, Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado upstaged the main event.
Rios and Alvarado fought in arguably the most exciting bout of 2012. The brutal and relentless back and forth exchanges captivated the crowd at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and HBO viewers.
Rios eventually wore down Alvarado and won the junior-welterweight match by seventh-round technical knockout. Donaire’s successful title defense against Toshiaki Tishioka that followed became an afterthought.
The byproduct of the Rios-Alvarado bout last October included the obvious talk of a rematch. On Saturday night, five months after their first encounter, Rios and Alvarado will step into the ring again. The junior-welterweights will fight and this time they headline a card at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.
“It’s never too soon to do it again,” Rios said of the short turnaround between fights. “We are warriors and if you are a warrior, you want to fight again and again and again.
“The first fight was great. I feel great and I’m ready for another battle.”
Rios’ performance occurred at an ideal time in his nine-year career. Six months earlier, Rios won a disputed split decision against Miami resident Richar Abril. In addition to dealing with the skeptics who said Abril deserved the victory, Rios also failed to make the 135-pound weight for the lightweight title bout.
“I had to get out of the lightweight division; I couldn’t make the weight anymore,” said Rios, 26. “I was a big 135 [pounds] the whole time and eventually it caught up to me. I had thought moving up in weight would give me more power and benefit me more and that’s what happened.”
Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs) finds comparisons in his bout with Alvarado to the three epic fights between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward.
“I couldn’t believe we stood up to the big shots,” Rios said. “We were both landing big shots, going toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring.”
Alvarado (33-1, 23 KOs) agrees with Rios about the first fight’s thrills but looks forward to a different result in the rematch.
“Why will I fight him again? It is a fight that the fans want,” Alvarado said. “Having the rematch gives me an opportunity to redeem myself after the first fight. That was a good fight. We are both warriors.”
Angelo Santana’s performance in his first Showtime headliner last November impressed the network enough that it has booked the Miami resident for his next fight.
Santana (14-0, 11 KOs) will face Carlos Cardenas April 12 in Las Vegas. Showtime will televise the scheduled 10-round lightweight bout as part of its Shobox series.
• Miami resident Hairon Socarras (7-0-1) remained unbeaten after his unanimous decision victory against Sergio Montes De Oca in a four-round featherweight bout Friday in Chicago.
• Friday (9 p.m., ESPN2): Jackson Junior vs. Humberto Savigne, 10, light-heavyweights.
• Saturday (10:15 p.m., HBO): Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado, 12, junior-welterweights.