The next American star in boxing may emerge Saturday night when two of the best young fighters the country has to offer meet in the ring. Mike Alvarado of Denver will take on Texas-born Brandon Rios, who now lives and trains in California. Alvarado is 33-0 with 23 knockouts, while Rios is 30-0 with 22 knockouts.
The fight, at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., is being projected by many as a candidate for Fight of the Year. For Alvarado, it is an opportunity to further raise his stock. His exciting style has earned him a dedicated fan base, and a win over Rios should only fuel his ascent to the top.
"I anticipate this fight to be an all out, exchanging boxing match," Alvarado said. "Brandon's tough, and he's going to come at us. I think the more successful guy is going to make adjustments. ... I'm ready to fight however. I can box, I can fight, and we'll see how it turns out."
Alvarado's last two fights have not been easy. He was losing early to Breidis Prescott before scoring a dramatic last-round knockout, and was again pushed to the 12th round against Mauricio Herrera, a fight he won via decision. Both of those bouts served as learning experiences, which Alvarado believes will serve him well come Saturday.
"Those fights improved my skills and helped me. I know I'm capable of digging deep, fighting to the end, and boxing as well. It only polished up my skills. I feel my boxing skills are underrated. People are going to see a lot of different talents in my boxing this time around."
Alvarado admits making it down to the 140-pound limit for the fight is not easy, but being disciplined and doing things the right way has made it so that weight is never a concern. At light welterweight and welterweight, there are big fights, as the divisions contain names like Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley, Floyd Mayweather and others. Alvarado believes he has waited long enough for his title shot and knows now that Rios is likely all that stands in his path.
"This is a huge opportunity for both of us. It's a title eliminator. It's the opportunity I want. He's moving up from lightweight, and he's a former world champion. I've been ready for a title shot for the last few fights, and I'm ready to step up."
Fireworks are a certainty come Saturday. Neither man backs down and both love nothing more than a toe-to-toe scrap. Alvarado wants to prove those predicting this to be a classic right, and he wants even more to prove those calling him a future star correct as well.
"You can expect a high output, exciting, explosive fight," he said. "It's the fight nobody wants to miss out on. It's going to be a great fight and very entertaining."