The build-up was big for an HBO undercard fight at an intimate (if very excitable) venue in California, but somehow, Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado not only met expectations for their first fight, they exceeded them.
Rios made his official move to 140 pounds with the fight in October 2012, taking on a big, strong junior welterweight in Alvarado. The two unbeaten brawlers wasted no time getting down to business, and as the slugfest wore on, HBO commentators, fans, and everyone else watching were impressed and awed by the physical beating both men were not just dishing out, but absorbing.
Rios stopped Alvarado in the seventh round when referee Pat Russell stepped in as the Oxnard mauler battered the Denver native against the ropes. The fight was great enough that an immediate rematch was signed, and the two met again in March of this year in an HBO main event, with Alvarado outboxing Rios en route to a decision win.
This Saturday in Macao, Rios headlines his first HBO pay-per-view against international superstar Manny Pacquiao in the biggest fight of his career.