When Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado stepped into the ring for the first time, each touted an undefeated record and a bad boy persona that was compelling enough to televise.
Each had won two titles before the October 13th 2012 showdown at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California and was itching for a crack at the other. On the line was the vacant WBO Latino Light Welterweight title.
Doppelgangers of the other with equaled abandon for their own personal safety, the two traded gloriously for a noteworthy and entertaining fight. After a satisfying 7 rounds of boxing that left Rios the winner by TKO, a new rivalry was solidified that would forever wet the blood thirst of the boxing fanfare.
“We’re like the same person,” said Rios to HBO Boxing’s Kieran Mulvaney. “We’re both screw-ups; when I was in Kansas I was always in and out of jail. Same with him, he’s always in jail always in and out of trouble and everything. Of course we have that respect for each other but in that ring we hate each other.”
Rios v. Alvarado I would later be named “2012 Fight of the Year” by Sports Illustrated, igniting a new rivalry for the world’s consumption.
“We know each other so well; we’ve adapted to each other, we know each other’s styles,” said Alvarado to HBO Boxing’s Mulvaney.
The two met again March 30th 2013 under the bright light of the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. This time was for yet another belt, the WBO Interim Light Welterweight Title and Alvarado had a game changer that would alter the duo’s fighting history.
In what surmounted to a crucial strategy modification for Alvarado, who boxed instead of participating in an entertaining brawl, the end result was a unanimous decision victory for Alvarado. Rios clamored for a rematch after granting Alvarado the same courtesy, but promoter Bob Arum felt the two should fight other top tier talent before their fated third pairing.
Alvarado took no time off as well and lost two big fights to major competition step-ups, Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Now ready for the third installment in their battle, this fight has deeper ramifications for Brandon Rios who has decided that if he loses he will retire from the sport. A sentiment echoed by his longtime trainer, Robert Garcia.
"[Rios] knows that if he doesn't perform well, if he doesn't win this fight, he knows that it might be the end of his career," Robert Garcia, said last week on the HBO Boxing Podcast. "He already told me, 'If I lose this fight, I'm retiring, I don't want to fight anymore.' And I actually told him that I agree with him."
Trilogies are always welcomed for the promise of a finale to an even battle, and regardless of whose hand is raised each fighter has cemented their place in the minds of boxing’s historians and revelers.
"This will be the best fight of the trilogy," Rios asserted. "We are entertainers and our fight on January 24 will be the grand finale," Alvarado added. Said HBO blow-by-blow broadcaster Jim Lampley, "Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado are made for each other. You have two fighters, both of whom are almost more committed to entertaining than to winning."
The victory in this thrilling trilogy will be decided tomorrow night on HBO.