Friday, March 29, 2013 | 2 a.m.
The Sun's fighting page
Brandon Rios estimates he’s watched the replay of this memorable fight more than 400 times.
In the morning when he wakes up, in the afternoon and sometime later in the day, the undefeated boxer makes sure to take a moment to watch the fight that partially defines his career.
He can hardly be blamed for admiring his work.
The slugfest that was Rios’ seventh-round TKO victory against Mike Alvarado last October at the Home Depot Center in Southern California was the undisputed top fight of 2012. It’s a fight that Rios — the competitor and the boxing fan — can’t get enough of.
“It was excellent. It was really, really excellent, man,” Rios said. “I was at my house watching and I couldn't believe it. I watch it every day.”
Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, the fighters will be back in the ring for the highly anticipated junior welterweight rematch. Both promise an encore performance, which if their proclamations are true, would be another fight for the ages.
The initial meeting was a brutal exchange of back-and-forth punches with neither backing down. It was such a great fight that most forget it wasn’t even the main event that night — it was an undercard bout to a Nonito Donaire title fight, but clearly stole the show.
Rios (31-0-1 with 22 KOs) won to remain undefeated. Alvarado still questions why the fight was stopped. And, depending on who you talk with, they’ll tell you different accounts of who was ahead when the fight was stopped.
Alvarado views Saturday’s rematch as a chance to get his revenge in what was the lone loss of his career. He admits being taken out of his style by Rios, getting so caught up in the relentless exchange of punches that he abandoned his game plan.
“I am going to be myself, definitely, that will never change,” Alvarado (33-1, 23 KOs) said. “But I’m fighting smarter. That is my whole tactic. That is my change in this next fight around, sticking to this game plan that I set up, that I have trained for in my preparation for this fight. Strategically I’m making the biggest changes.”
Many expect — and hope — that the fight will be a continuation of the first meeting, with the fighters going toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring. While that ultimately might happen, both will have surely made adjustments and added different dimensions to their styles.
William Hill sports book list Rios as a minus-440 betting favorite, meaning bettors would have to wager $440 to win $100. Alvarado is a plus-360 underdog. The way Alvarado talks, however, you would think he is the favorite. He doesn’t lack confidence.
“I’m a fighter. I love to fight,” Alvarado said. “I love to show my heart and skills.”
Rios shares the same confidence.
Constantly watching the October fight has helped him identify several vulnerabilities in his approach and possible flaws Alvarado could exploit. He’s also increased his training regime to include morning sprints and other forms of cardio.
The improvements should be on display Saturday night, surely giving him another memorable fight to re-watch.
“Me and him in the center of the ring. We are going to get it on again,” Rios said. “I’m a warrior. I only know one way to fight. I might forget everything, out the window. In the gym we practice for this, we say we are going to do that, we say we are going to box and work the jab. But when you get in the ring, you get back to doing what you know best, and I only know one way to fight.”