Opportunity knocks for Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios, an undefeated 26-year-old light welterweight, Saturday when he faces a fellow unbeaten American, Mike Alvarado in what many are anticipating as a Fight of the Year candidate.
The fight, at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., will serve as Rios’ first opportunity is to erase the memory of a controversial split decision victory over Richard Abril the last time out. Many felt Rios lost the fight, one in which Abril boxed from the outside and held the brawling Rios, keeping him from applying his usual pressure. In Saturday’s fight, Alvarado’s style is more up Rios’ alley.
“I’m very excited because I know he’s not going hug me, hold me and try to kiss me like Abril did,” Rios said in his typically colorful fashion. “It’s great, because I love to fight and I’m prepared for a great fight.”
In that Abril fight, Rios did not make the 135-pound lightweight limit for the second straight bout. Prior to that, he had been stripped of his WBA title after failing to make weight against John Murray, a fight he ultimately scored an 11th round TKO in. Now that he has moved up, not only is he not stressing his body, but his punching power (22 knockouts in 31 professional fights) is better as well.
“I feel great about 140 now, 135 the last two times was hard for me and I couldn’t make it anymore," Rios said. "Now I feel great and I’m going to do what I did at 135 at 140. My punching power is still going to be the same. Like I tell everybody, I’ve always been a 140-pounder that could make 135, but I had the 140 power at 135. Now at 140, I have the power of a 147-pound fighter.”
Some experts believe Rios taking on a guy like Alvarado in his first fight in the weight class will be too much to overcome, but he believes being comfortable at this weight will make all the difference.
“The last three fights, I shouldn’t have been at 135. My last fight with Abril, I pretty much fought at 140. I couldn’t get past 137. I know what can provide and I know how strong I’m going to be. It doesn’t bother me. I’m ready for 140 and Mike Alvarado can think he has an advantage.”
Rios has become accustomed to criticism whether it’s for not making weight or winning a close fight against Abril. Should he beat Alvarado, he anticipates what his skeptics will say.
“No matter what, they’re still going to criticize," he said. "Even when I fight Alvarado, if I win, they’ll say I had to fight a guy that didn’t move around. People going to hate no matter what and they’re not the ones fighting. These people have probably never fought and they don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m there to show the world what I can do.”
The winner of this fight should be presented with a bevy of options at light welterweight and welterweight, two of the more loaded weight classes in the sport right now. Rios is looking at the top of the division and of the pound-for-pound rankings for his next challenge.
“After this fight, if everything goes well, which I’m planning on it to go well, I would love fight winner of Marquez and Pacquiao. If not, I’d love to fight Lucas Matthysse. Give me another tough fight!”
Tough, gutsy brawls are the hallmark of HBO’s Boxing After Dark franchise. Rios believes he and Alvarado can duplicate or surpass some of the classic battles of the past.
“Everybody is going to want to tune in. It’s going to be bloody, bruised, toe-to-toe, fist-to-fist. It’s going to be like Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti, Jose Luis Castillo and [Diego] Corrales. It’s going to be one of those fights people love to see, and the prediction I’m going to give, and I never do this, is a knockout. I want to make a big statement. I’m going for the knockout and I never do this, but this one, I’m going for it.”