Coming into tonight's highly-anticipated fight between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado, there was some concern that they couldn't live up to the hype. I dare say they may have actually bested the hype.
Rios stopped Alvarado in the seventh round of an absolutely brutal war, in a fight that probably punched its ticket for 2012 Fight of the Year, as it was said to be on paper.
Rios (31-0-1, 23 KO) and Alvarado (33-1, 23 KO) tore into one another at all points, but there was some skill on display, too. Rios again showed just how great a fighter he can be in close quarters, where he's able to launch uppercuts and body shots, and Alvarado did show an ability to win the fight from the outside, using his jab effectively.
Both of them landed monster shots. In the early rounds, it was nip-and-tuck between the two, and in the fourth and fifth, it seemed as if Alvarado's superior physical size was wearing on Rios. But Rios started landing bombs in the sixth, hurting Alvarado, and he found a home again in the seventh, blasting the Colorado native and hurting him badly.
Alvarado stayed up, but didn't try to hold, and was clearly in a bad way. Referee Pat Russell made the call to stop the fight -- perhaps a bit early for the hook, but the bet would be that there was only more bad punishment in store.
It is not a fight that lends itself well to a description. What these two did in the ring tonight is a rare thing. They brutally punished one another, and did it with skill and determination. They proved their toughness, their power, their will, and their desire. And if they do it again, it will be must-see once more.