COMMENTARY | Mike Alvarado vs. Brandon Rios 2 was a wickedly brutal, crowd pleasing battle that has become the early front runner for "Fight of the Year" honors. Similar to their first encounter, the sheer amount of punishment these two absorbed had those watching wincing with each and every mind numbing blow. Unlike the first bout that saw Rios score a 7th round TKO, Alvarado added a few new wrinkles to his game plan in order to remain upright with his senses intact for 12 wildly violent rounds and earn the razor thin unanimous decision (115-113, 114-113 & 115-113).
It was savage, vicious, ferocious and at times inhumane. Yes, it was just about everything fight fans could hope for. And for those exact reasons they should absolutely not do it again.
Wait, considering that Rios and Alvarado are even at one victory a piece, how can something so marvelous not get the trilogy treatment?
Easy, because if you care about the boxers, then you should worry about their health as well.
Let's be clear, the savage boxing fan in me sat ringside and was giddy as these two young lightweights beat the living daylights out of one another for 36 minutes. Shades of Gatti-Ward flashed through my mind as Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado exchanged pleasantries by the fist full. It was beautiful destruction in its truest form. But after finally catching my breath and coming to my senses, I realized just how many years this fight will likely shave off of their respective careers. Not to mention the long term effects it could have on their lives.
Yes, these are the moments boxing fans yearn for. The epic encounters where the winner and loser are treated as equals. Who won and how is a mere afterthought when considering the manner in which these two slugged it out. It was a gorgeous display of guts and glory that shockingly exceeded the hype after their first encounter produced such an epic battle. However, when you consider how many more fights these two will have outside of one another, it seems a bit unfair to cut them short by throwing them back into the ring and witnessing the dynamic duo reduce another 2-4 years off of each other's respective careers.
"My first inclination was that they should fight another fight before the third match," Top Rank's Bob Arum said at the post fight press conference after he revealed that both Rios and Alvarado had to be whisked away to the hospital for treatment. "These two fights were classics and you don't have to do it right away. But eventually you know, just as the sun rises in the morning, that they will fight again. Exactly when they will fight will be decided in the months to come."
With Rios, his style is very much of the "enjoy me while it lasts" variety. He comes into each bout ready to give and receive. Defense is less Floyd Mayweather and more "hit me and I'll hit you back." It's a crowd pleasing style where Rios dares his opponent to punch him harder than he punches them. Before the second fight with Alvarado the style hadn't failed him. But you have to wonder how many more punches a man can take to the head before his speech resembles Meldrick Taylor .
Alvarado has the ability to box, he just enjoys a good brawl. The rematch with Rios showed that Alvarado can and will use movement and a jab to outbox his opponent. But he simply cannot resist the Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots style once his foe lands a big shot. As tough as Alvarado was, his face was falling apart after going 12 rounds with Rios.
Arum is keenly aware of how much Rios-Alvarado was a shot in the arm for the sport. But he also is aware that the long term affects those crunching punches may have on their minds and bodies. Alas, he is a businessman and will do what is right for the business. And what is right for the business is for Rios-Alvarado III to take place sooner than later. Even toying with the idea that each of these fighters accept an interim fight before they meet again is acknowledging the obvious. And the obvious is that Arum is unsure how much longer he will have these great warriors at his disposal after taking such brutal punishment . Rationing them out sounds sensible, but toying with the idea that both of them will be the same when they meet again is dangerous. Who knows how they will be up against other fighters who have had the pleasure of watching both of them on video and prepare accordingly. Dropping their stock is no good, so the next best thing is to toss them back in the ring against each other sooner than later.
Yes, it makes perfect sense when you stare down the halls of boxing's legendary encounters. Surely the third fight will seamlessly blend in with the previous two and go down as one of the great trilogies the sport has ever seen. But at what cost?
If anyone could speak on it, it would be Timothy Bradley. You know, the Timothy Bradley that was involved in the high octane fight against Ruslan Provodnikov that set off the "Fight of the Year" conversations.
"Yes (I want to see it again) because it was a great fight and no (I don't want to see it again) because these guys took some big shots," Bradley said at the post fight press conference while still sporting some lumps from his 12-round war. "There's no loser here."
Well, actually there is a loser. Both of their careers are having years chewed off with each battle. Their families may have to wonder about slurred speech or deteriorating motor skills when it is all said and done. As fans, we enjoy these battles because it breathes life into a sport that the naysayers still try to say is on life support. But given the number of great warriors who end up becoming a mush mouthed human beings after their boxing career is all said and done, what is the cost? Perhaps sending Rios and Alvarado right down another path of destruction isn't the right thing to do.
Andreas Hale lives in the boxing capital of the world and has covered the sport for mainstream media outlets such as MTV.com and Jay-Z's LifeandTimes.com, as well as die-hard websites including FightNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@AndreasHale).
- Sports & Recreation
- Brandon Rios
- Mike Alvarado