Mandalay Bay Las Vegas may have best fight of 2013

Mar 26, 2013 3:07 AM

Mandalay Bay Events Center will play host to one of the most highly anticipated rematches and one that’s already being touted as a “Fight of the Year” candidate.

Personally I agree the label is warranted, especially after taking the time earlier this week to watch the initial confrontation twice, making them the third and fourth times that I’ve seen the bout.

Bottom line, if you’re a fight fan who prefers wire-to-wire action more than flawless technique, and enjoys witnessing a war of attrition, then rest assured the first bout between Mike Alvarado (33-1, 23 KO’s) and Brandon Rios (31-0-1, 23 KO’s) will become one of your all-time favorites.

Though many believe Rios is taking a big risk climbing back into the ring with Alvarado after winning by way of a seventh round TKO, simply because their styles ensure an all-out brawl.

Every fighter knows when they enter the ring for that type of fight, the chance of getting caught flush has a much higher probability, even if you’re the more technically sound of the two.

Rather than the bout being a display of skill and efficiency, it turns into one where breaking your opponents will and determining who truly has the better chin, eventually produces the victor. It did so in their first encounter and I’m not going out on a limb by predicting it will once again.

To date odds makers have yet to post a betting line but I am quite certain Rios will be a significant favorite, though not the type which reflects a one sided fight. This is a championship bout as both men will attempt to capture the Interim WBO Light Welterweight strap that was vacated by Juan Manuel Marquez when he moved up in weight to challenge for Manny Pacquiao’s welterweight gold.

Breaking the fight down it’s obvious Alvarado will be both the bigger and longer fighter, who will look to keep his distance and use both to his advantage early on. For Rios, it’s no secret he’d rather meet in a phone booth and the game plan will ultimately be to negate the reach disadvantage by getting inside and staying there.

In the past Rios struggled to make the 135 lb. lightweight division and was almost always the bigger man in the ring by fight night. Though it gave him an edge in the strength department, it definitely made it difficult for him as a fight wore on due to the immense weight cut he had to endure at 135.

That won’t be an issue this time around since this bout is being contested at 140 lbs and it’ll be interesting to see whether a much less depleted Rios will return to looking as dominant as he was before the weight issues, or whether not being the bigger or even stronger fighter will take its toll physically and mentally.

Statistically speaking Rios has an unquestionable advantage in both connect percentage and opponents connect rate. Those two figures are without a doubt the numbers that matter most in the fight game when taking level of competition into account.

Then we try to conclude whose style matches up better, which fighter may be the more motivated of the two, who’s the better athlete, technician, and more physically gifted, and finally which of the two enter in better shape and are surrounded by the superior trainers and staff.

I believe Rios holds the edge in the majority if not all of those categories especially when we take into account the recent success of his trainer Robert Garcia, who has definitely seen his stock skyrocket of late. When I coupled all of that with the fact Alvarado has some major scar tissue and the many wars he’s been in have left him with a face that gets busted up more than most.

Since I expect “Bam Bam” will lay some heavy leather on Alvarado, most notably uppercuts when inside, I keep seeing Rios making it tougher and tougher for his opponent as the rounds pass, not to mention it’s tough for judges to score the round for the fighter who appears to have taken the worst of it.

That said, the outcome of this fight may, or better yet, should not depend on the scorecards. Whether or not it does, my money will have to be on Rios unless the bookmakers hang up a price that offers absolutely no value. In that case, I will simply sit back and watch what just may be the 2013 “Fight of the Year.”

Pick: Rios

VR (last 3 years): 98-50

Recent run: 30-12 (71%)

Vegas-Runner, a pro sports bettor in Las Vegas, has been featured on CNBC/ESPN. Follow him on Twitter@vegasrunner, at and on AM 1100 ESPN (also FM 98.9) on Fridays and Sundays from 11 pm to midnight when he co-hosts First Preview. Contact Vegas Runner at [email protected].

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