[caption id="attachment_29804" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Mike Alvarado Brandon Rios March 2013 ESPN[/caption]

Boxing fans around the world were the winners on Saturday night as American junior welterweights Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado slugged it out for the second time in the past five months in another instant classic.

Alvarado was also a winner on the night as he evened up their fight series at one-apiece with a close, but unanimous 12-round decision at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Rios had stopped Alvarado in the seventh round of their first bout back on October 13. The odds are very good that there’ll be a third bout between the two.

Alvarado stuck to his game plan in this contest, which was to box a little bit more instead of engaging in a toe-to-toe battle. However, the action was just as fast and furious as their first meeting and both men were staggered by some tremendous punches.

It looked like this could be an early night as Rios rocked Alvarado in the second round with a stiff left jab. He then pounced on his opponent and rained down on him with numerous heavy blows. Alvarado managed to withstand the onslaught, though and made it out of the round.

The tables were turned in the third when Alvarado clocked Rios with a powerful right hand that almost sent him reeling to the deck. It was then his turn to throw blow after blow on his opponent, but Rios also managed to stay on his feet and reach the end of the round.

The two went after each other the rest of the way trading rounds on the scorecard. Alvarado finished the last third of the bout stronger and won the final round on all of the judges’ scorecards. He was announced the winner by scores of 114-113, 115-113, and 115-113.

This encounter may have not had the drama of a knockout like the first fight did, but it was highly entertaining and thrilling form start to finish. Alvarado’s face was quite a mess after the final bell and he sported a huge gash over his left eye.

Both boxers were taken to a nearby hospital after the 12 brutal rounds for precautionary reasons. Both men also wanted to meet again in a rubber match, but they may each take on somebody else before they complete their trilogy.

Each boxer has now lost just one professional fight in their careers, and it was to each other. Rios record fell to 31-1-1 with 23 KOs while Alvarado raised his to 34-1, also with 23 KOs.

The 32-year-old Alvarado, who fights out of Denver, landed 261 out of the 860 punches that he threw, while the 26-year-old Rios of Oxnard, California, threw 823 shots and landed 241 of them. The numbers show just how close the bout was with Alvarado landing 30-percent of his blows and Rios connecting on 29-percent of his.

Promoter Bob Arum said he’d like to see Rios and Alvarado take on somebody else before meeting again because he doesn’t like immediate rematches.

It’s not a bad business decision because these guys could each lose 10 fights in a row and be certain that a third bout between them would be a sellout and big moneymaker. Expect the third match to be in Alvarado’s hometown of Denver, though.


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