COMMENTARY | Brandon Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs) has been the darling of the hardcore boxing fan ever since dismantling Anthony Peterson in a lightweight title eliminator back in 2010. The fans have followed his rise from tough unknown to top contender to world champ and, along the way, saw him establish himself, for better or worse, as one of the most compelling personalities in the sport. Whether they loved him or hated him, Rios was "Must See TV" and the favorite subject of social media sites and boxing message boards.
Now, after his stellar TKO 7 victory over legitimate Top 10 fighter, Mike Alvarado on Saturday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, the hardcore fans may have to share "Bam Bam" with the world.
Rios, with the win, not only affirmed his status as one of the sport's most entertaining warriors, but also proved that he belonged among the very best in his new division of junior welterweight. When all is said and done in Rios' career, this Fight of the Year candidate on HBO's Boxing After Dark could very likely turn out to be the brawler's springboard from niche star to mainstream attraction. The fight was that good and Rios performed that well.
Now competing in the jam-packed 140 lb. class, Rios finally has the big names within reach and, following his win over Alvarado, he may also have the leverage and street cred to start forcing some of these clashes to happen.
Obviously, the biggest bout to be made would be against the winner of this December's Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez bout. Rios against either fighter would provide for an outstanding and stylistically pleasing war and give the fans something worth the price of any pay-per-view. Truthfully, even a match-up with the loser of Pacquiao-Marquez would be something truly special and unbelievably profitable for Rios.
But, assuming that bout can't be made, the division is hardly lacking in well-known fighters who could bring star power and world class talent to a possible clash with the brawling Mexican-American who fights out of Roberto Garcia's gym in Oxnard, California.
Unfortunately, some of the division's biggest names currently fight under the Golden Boy banner and, barring some unlikely reconciliation between the promotional firm and Rios' Top Rank team, some of the best possible clashes might be out of the question for now. That means, wars with the likes of Danny Garcia, Amir Khan, Lucas Matthysse, Marcos Maidana, Erik Morales and Josesito Lopez may not now, nor ever, happen-- Unless, of course, there was enough money to be made for both sides to forget their promotional turf war for just one bout.
However, the names Lamont Peterson and Zab Judah immediately come to mind as opponents who could be signed with little effort and serve as one more springboard in a campaign to draw in one of the other big names. A fight with Peterson could even be billed as a revenge bout for what Rios did to Lamont's brother, Anthony.
Of course, there's also the prospect of a rematch with Alvarado-- A possibility that any true fan of the sport would absolutely not discourage.
Whatever the case, Brandon Rios may be showing up on the radar of the casual fan from now on and may start drawing the type of TV ratings and ticket sales that go along with his fan-friendly, brawl-loving style.
Boxing is all the better with stars like Rios, who give completely of themselves in the ring and are willing to take on all comers. Now, if only the promotional companies and sanctioning bodies shared Rios' blue collar fight ethic and competitive spirit, the sport would be in a much better place.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, and a close follower of the sport for more than 30 years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The BoxingTribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
HBO Boxing After Dark