LAS VEGAS--It is impossible to determine exactly how many years of their lives Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado have snatched from one another over the course of two fights, but just like the first time, it should be crystal clear that both men deserve equal shares of respect from fans and media alike.
When a fight becomes so good that you simply don't care about scoring or cards or judges anymore, we wish we could just live in those brutal moments for as long as possible, and relish the knowledge that those moments were for us fans.
We may not have gotten another stoppage, and perhaps not quite the same level of blood and gore, but Mike Alvarado winning a unanimous decision over Brandon Rios was about as fun as we wished it would be.
So many overlooked "Mile High" Mike Alvarado coming into this rematch, and understandably so, given how much punishment he took and handed out in the first fight. There was seemingly no way either fighter could return for this gauntlet undamaged.
True to warrior form, both men took shots that nobody should've expected them to take and stay standing. Rios in particular somehow withstood shots that sent his sweat flying into the upper deck. But on they warred, sending fans into a frenzy with every exchange.
Round 1 was a bit bland if comparing to the first bout, but it woudn't last long. It couldn't. Already Alvarado's face was reddening, and in round 2, Rios hurt Alvarado with about as strong a jab as you'll ever see. With about one minute remaining, Alvarado found the gumption to stay upright and come back in the 3rd to wobble Rios with a huge right hand. The 4th round was slower, but only compared to the previous two, as Alvarado tried to set up his left hook. The tension throughout the venue could've drugged an elephant.
Things slowed down some in the 6th -- that is until the end of the round, when more trading brought the crowd to their feet. And the action remained brutal into the later rounds, with Alvarado finally working in his hook consistently, and Rios closing on him like a shark on a bloody carcass.
Up until the championship rounds, Alvarado had gotten chased to the ropes and smothered with leather between staying a ways away, but his face was beginning to fall apart and fill with crimson. But starting in the 10th, Alvarado was able to keep Rios at more of a distance than Rios wanted, leading to some visible frustration and clowning from the Oxnard native.
Perhaps the rounds and rounds of punches absorbed by Rios' excellent chin were taking a toll, or maybe he was tired. Maybe both. But the nasty exchanges were fewer and farther between in the last few rounds, while still remaining entertaining.
Scores of 115-113 twice, and 114-113 were booed by a most pro-Rios crowd, but the Alvarado contingent's roar of approval was deafening.
Words are likely not enough to accurately describe the entirety of this rematch, or the measure of these men. But when they're unleashed on each other inside a ring, beautiful things happen. Already talk of a rubbermatch is swirling around the boxing circles, and it's doubtful you'll see or hear any complaints.
The co-feature between junior welterweights Terence Crawford and Breidis Prescott proved to be less entertaining than expected, as Crawford took a unanimous decision by simply scoring more effectively and rarely stopping to trade. Perhaps the best thing about the fight was that it was action-deprived enough to make Rios-Alvarado look phenomenal in comparison, though that likely would have been the case no matter what.
After a few "feeling out" type of rounds that could have gone Prescott's way on aggression and forward momentum alone, Crawford settled into a rhythm, and that rhythm was walking Prescott around the ring and into his southpaw jab.
Crawford won't be burning any barns down anytime soon, unless he's forced to, but his style looks to be an effective one. Round after round, he set a clear distance with his feet, which forced Prescott to reach with most of his shots. When Prescott fell short, as he did more often than not, he was countered by a sharp southpaw right hook from Crawford, who mugged and smiled when it became clear that Prescott's frustration was growing.
Prescott's biggest issue was that he was relying on his punching power, which has indeed bailed him out in the past, but when he did land his vaunted right hand, the effect was minimal. Crawford continued to skip and angle away from him, and in the later rounds, even walking Prescott back with hard combinations.
With the situation looking dire for Prescott going into the 10th and final round, his corner frantically waved their hands as if to say "Throw more!" just off-camera, but it was not to be. For whatever reason, Crawford's style left the Colombian befuddled, and he couldn't muster what he needed.
The scorecards read 99-91, 97-93 and 100-90, all for Crawford, who remains undefeated at 20-0 (15 KO). Another lumbering loss brings Prescott to 26-5 (20 KO).