Last Saturday nights HBO Boxing after Dark Broadcast featured an absolute special fight between Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios and “Mile High” Mike Alvarado. In the main event, two technically sound fighters in Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire and Toshiaki Nishioka battled it out for supremacy of the junior featherweight (122 Ibs.).
In the junior welterweight (140 Ibs.) division, Rios (31-0-1 22KO) overcame a serious challenge from Alvarado (33-1 23KO) by badly hurting him in the seventh round with an overhand right hand and continuing with a barrage of punches that had Alvarado dazed against the ropes, causing the referee to stop the fight.
Prior to that, the fight was extremely close but it seemed that Alvarado had a slight edge against Rios. The fight was an all-action affair as the fighters managed to throw a combined 1,320 punches in only half a fight according to CompuBox. However, it appeared that Alvarado was outworking Rios and landing the more eye-catching shots that judges tend to look for.
None of that would matter as Rios showed his trademark tenacity in not giving up as he kept the pressure on Alvarado by smacking him with his right hand. Alvarado’s demise came when Rios landed a perfect right hand that caught Alvarado’s chin just right. Alvarado stumbled to the ropes as Rios continued to pound him relentlessly. The referee waved the fight off after Rios landed more punishing right hands that snapped Alvarado’s head back.
Some people may feel that the stoppage was too soon, but in the end it’s better to be one punch too soon than one punch too late. Besides, it was clear that Alvarado was badly hurt and even though he had his hands up, he wasn’t blocking any of Rios’ blows.
With this exciting victory, Rios has established himself in the 140 Ib. division and it’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here. Potential matchups with the likes of Lucas Matthysse and the winner of the Danny Garcia-Erik Morales rematch are possible. In fact, considering how even the fight was before the seventh round, a rematch with Alvarado wouldn’t be out of the question. However, Alvarado will probably want to recover from this fight and maybe get some momentum back by fighting a tune-up fight before considering any serious opposition.
In the main event, Donaire (30-1 19KO) scored a mostly one sided victory over the accomplished Nishioka (39-5-3 24KO) with a ninth round TKO. The first five rounds were hard to watch due to the tentative nature of Nishioka and Donaire’s inability to penetrate Nishioka’s defense for the most part. However, Nishioka became more aggressive in the sixth, which gave Donaire the openings he was looking for.
Donaire knocked him down with an extremely fast left uppercut to the chin. Nishioka fought back after the knockdown and was able to land some good hooks and left hands on Donaire, but the punches didn’t seem to affect the Filipino fighter. Donaire decided to entice Nishioka to attack him by going against the ropes and dropping his hands. Nishioka fell for Donaire’s traps and repeatedly got hit throughout the 7th and 8th round.
Nishioka’s aggressiveness backfired in the ninth round. Donaire had his back against the ropes, which tricked the Japanese fighter to fire punches. He fired a southpaw jab and Donaire countered it with a faster and more powerful straight right hand. Nishioka got up on unsteady legs and his corner decided to throw in the towel in order to protect their fighter.
In the post-fight interview, Donaire expressed interest in fighting the winner of the Anselmo Moreno-Abner Mares winner and almost anyone in the junior featherweight division. He was critical of a fight with Guillermo Rigondeaux, stating that Rigondeaux needs to beat more accomplished fighters in order for Donaire to be interested in the fight.
Nishioka’s future is less clear. He contemplated retirement before this fight and now after losing for the first time in over eight years, he may find retirement more tempting. However, I would still favor him to beat almost every junior featherweight not named Donaire, Rigondeaux, or Mares so he may have a few fights left in him. `