Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado waged a pair of the most memorable bouts of this century, but the rubber match Saturday was nothing of the sort.
A prepared and determined Rios overwhelmed an out-of-shape and clearly at the end of the line Alvarado, stopping him after three one-sided rounds when Alvarado couldn't answer the bell for the fourth in their welterweight bout at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo.
The loss was Alvarado's third in a row and fourth in his last five fights, and should spell the end of his boxing career, even though he put on a brave front during a post-fight interview with HBO's Jim Lampley.
He was stopped by Rios in a classic battle on Oct. 13, 2012, in Carson, Calif. He avenged that defeat in Las Vegas on March 30, 2013, in yet another spirited brawl. But he quit on his stool after the 10th round against Ruslan Provodnikov on Oct. 19, 2013, and then was beaten up badly by Juan Manuel Marquez on May 17, 2014, in Inglewood, Calif.
Worse, Alvarado was arrested twice in the four months prior to the fight. He was arrested in September in Las Vegas and spent more than two weeks in jail. Then, at a key point in his training, he was arrested on Jan. 4 at 4 a.m. in Denver with a loaded gun in his SUV.
It's not the way to prepare for the most important fight of one's life, and that showed on Saturday. It was ridiculously easy for Rios, who landed 120 of 290 punches in the three rounds, while Alvarado could only connect on 20 of the 87 punches he threw.
After, Alvarado tried to insist he'll fight on, but the question remains who would want to see him. He's clearly a guy who needs to do something other than being hit in the head for a living. Defiantly, though, Alvarado insisted he's not done.
"I'm not done yet, at all," Alvarado told Lampley in their post-fight interview. "I was far from being at my best. I will be back. I will be back. I guarantee everyone in this place, I will be back. ... It was all in the preparation of my training. I wasn't training like I should have been. That's what I get. But I have to get back on the drawing board and get back on it. I ain't done yet."
That's simply a fighter deluding himself.
If Alvarado had taken the fight seriously, he would have looked more like Rios. Rios lost to Manny Pacquiao in 2013 and then wasn't pleased with his performance in a win by disqualification over Diego Chaves last year.
So Rios threw himself into his work and looked sensational. He loses some points because it was next-to-impossible not to hit Alvarado, but Rios was the professional that Alvarado was not. He worked hard, took his job seriously and put on a show when he needed it most.
Rios kept his respect for Alvarado as a result of their first two rugged fights. Even though the man he fought Saturday was a shell of the one he'd fought twice previously, he was prepared for the best Alvarado there could be.
"I never thought it would be easy," Rios told Lampley after his win. "Alvarado's a warrior and I knew he could bounce back [even after I had a good first round]. He's got power in both hands and he could hit me with some good shots. I had to take my time, be patient and listen to my corner.
"All the instruction, I followed. I did the game plan from camp. I was victorious."
Rios will move on to bigger and better things. Alvarado, though, needs to forget about boxing and focus on getting his life in order.