Saturday, 24 January 2015 05:06

Rios vs Alvarado 3 prediction: Can desire lift underdog?

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Tonight, Brandon Rios (32-2-1, 23 KO) and Mike Alvarado (34-3, 23 KO) will fight yet again.
Their first two bouts produced memorable Fight of the Year candidates as both men showcased an abundance of courage, skill, determination and grit.

Will Saturday night's match-up be any different?

Unlike their previous bouts, which were contested at super lightweight (140 lbs), Saturday's fight will be fought at welterweight (147 lbs).

Look for the added pounds to benefit Mikey most beacuse he's taller and may be able to carry the weight better.

Yet, not unlike their previous dust-ups, Brandon Rios is a clear but not overwhelming favorite. And it's not surprising.

Although Rios dropped a decision verdict in their first rematch in March 2013, Alvarado is 0-2 since that contest, losing entertaining but decisive affairs to Ruslan Provodnikov (TKO 10) and Juan Manuel Marquez (UD 12).

In addition, Alvarado, over the last two years, has had several run-ins with law and just seems like one of those genuinely nice fellas who, for whatever reason, has a lot of social drama. As a result, many are questioning his dedication to boxing.

Given the presumed choas surrounding Alvarado outside the ring as well as his two consectutive losses and the fact Rios has already rocked Mikey a few times, it would be easy to bet against Alvarado.

... But there are always intangibles afoot, factors that are not easily seen nor explained, and cannot be neatly categorized as a strength, weakness or tactical objective.

Some athletes perform better when their backs are against the wall. If Alvarado is one of them, he may have a slight advantage tonight. 

Mikey should be a little hungrier than Rios, and an edge in sheer desire can be the difference between winning and losing when fighters so evenly matched.

I'm grudgingly picking Alvarado and my prediction is simply based on little more than a hutch. These fellas have already fought two wars and understand each other's style well.  As a result, Rios vs Alvarado 3 may very well be decided by who wants it most.

Desire will be absolutely critical.

Many have already given up on Alvarado, insisting his troubles outside the ring have diminished his credibility inside it. If Mikey is aware he'll need to convince his some of fans, HBO, the media and perhaps his own team that he takes his craft seriously and is worthy of A-side status on this platform, it may be all the edge he needs.

Both fighters are in what can be considered a 'do or die' situation but the stakes are a bit higher for Alvarado. He realizes that regardless the level of theatrics he provides Saturday night, losing three in a row at 34 certainly won't invigorate his already-dimished stock.

Should Brandon fall on the short side of a decision verdict, the aggressive, crowd-pleasing 28 year old will have still defeated (on paper) every opponent he has ever faced, sans the great Pacquiao, of course.

Simply put, Rios is more likely to be able rebound from a competitive loss tonight than his foe.

Mike Alvarado has already shown he can defeat Rios without controvery but the same cannot be said of the favorite. In their first encounter, Alvarado was victimized by a premature stoppage in a rock 'em, sock 'em bout that was deadlocked on the scorecards after six.

Does Alvarado want this fight more than Rios? Or are his recent losses and run-ins with the law symbolic of a man whose career is headed downhill?

We'll find out tonight..

Prediction:  Look for Alvarado to enter the ring 1) a hungry, supremely-focused, well-prepared fighter with something to prove who will seek to execute his gameplan with precision or 2) an undisciplined, troubled warrior beset by issues who wasn't able to give 100 percent in training/ preparation.

There's probably not much in-between.

If Alvarado is not on his 'A game,' he may get knocked out early. But I think Mikey will bring the goods and do enough to convince at least two of the three judges he's won the fight.

Alvarado wins SD 12
Lee Cleveland

Lee is Managing Editor of, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.