By Jake Donovan

It was a familiar scene for Mike Alvarado fighting just outside of his hometown – planning to go to war, only to fall behind and eventually quit on his stool.

The sequence just never happened at any point in his in-ring rivalry with Brandon Rios, although that is how their trilogy came to an end. Rios pummeled Alvarado, knocking him down and eventually stopping him after three rounds Saturday evening at 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colorado.

Alvarado entered the rubber match carrying the weight of his latest arrest – which occurred just three weeks prior to fight night – and apparently failed to properly prepare himself for a night that was make or break for both fighters.

In that regard, the HBO headliner ultimately became a wolf versus a puppy. Rios fought like a fighter whose career was absolutely on the line, throwing every punch with knockout intentions, beginning with an opening round where he hadn’t looked that good since his 7th round knockout over Alvarado in their first fight way back in Oct. ’12.

The bout began with Alvarado appearing as if he wanted to box. It’s what worked so well in their March ’13 rematch, where Rios was unable to adapt as he suffered the first loss of his career, five months after violently snatching the “0” from Alvarado’s record.

Pure boxing didn’t last for very long, nor was it the least bit effective on this night, as the flow eventually transitioned to a slugfest. The action pleased the crowd on hand, an audience that was surprisingly a mixed bag between local fans for Alvarado and admirers who made the five-hour drive from Rios’ original hometown of Garden City, Kansas to cheer on the former lightweight titlist.

Rios laid out a vicious beating in the opening round, with the momentum carrying over into round two. The only bailout for Alvarado came from a low blow that may or may not have been intentional. Whatever the case, it rendered a timeout, seemingly the only point in the fight in which Rios wasn’t throwing punches.

It didn’t take long for the visiting fighter – who now spends his training days and nights in Oxnard, California – to rediscover his swagger, going on the attack in round three. A slew of uppercuts and hooks forced Alvarado to the canvas for the bout’s lone knockdown.

“That's my favorite punch, it's my bread and butter,” Rios revealed after the bout. “I love my uppercuts. I believe I have one of the best uppercuts out there.”

The sequence that also produced massive swelling around the left eye of Alvarado, the injury becoming his alibi to no longer fight on after nine one-sided minutes.

“I couldn't see. I was looking at my physical condition. I didn't want to... I could have shown heart, but who knows what's going to happen after that,” Alvarado revealed afterwards, a response that elicited boos from the crowd not appreciative of his lack of effort.

The ringside physician provided that out for him, not liking the responses he received during his brief corner examination, and stopping the fight.

The official time was 3:00 of round three.

“I know what I had to do. This was the end of my career and I didn't want to end like that,” insisted Rios, who marches to 33-2-1 (24KOs) with his second straight win. “I still have a lot of gas in my tank.”

As for Alvarado, the former 140 lb. titlist is simply on empty. The loss was his third straight and fourth in five fights. The manner in which he bowed out was eerily similar to the end of his Oct. ’13 clash with Ruslan Provodnikov in this very venue, when he remained on his stool prior to the 11th round of their punishing war.

The lone bright spot in Alvarado’s career following the rematch win over Rios came in the ninth round of an otherwise landslide points loss to Juan Manuel Marquez last May. A shutout loss was spared when Alvarado climbed off the canvas to floor the modern day legend, a sequence that perhaps presented false hope of his still having something left to offer the sport.

Despite his experiences on Saturday, Alvarado still believes there’s more fight left in his battered 34-year old body. All he needs, he insists, is the chance to atone for the mistakes he made leading up to this fight.

“I'm not done yet. I'm far from being at my best. I will be back. I guarantee it,” Alvarado promises. “It was in the preparation. I wasn't training like I should've been. I didn't give it all I got. That's what I get.”

Alvarado’s problems really began the moment he agreed to fight so close to home, given his checkered past and run-ins with the law. That issue resurfaced just three weeks prior to fight night, when a car in which Alvarado was cruising in the wee hours of a Saturday morning was pulled over for expired tags. A search of the vehicle produced a loaded weapon, a violation of Alvarado’s parole terms even though he insisted the gun wasn’t his.

The fighter was freed on bond and permitted to proceed with the fight. Whatever fate awaits him on the other side of the law, it seems these days that he stands a better chance in a courtroom than in a boxing ring.

As for Rios, new life is breathed into his career following a disastrous 2013 ring campaign that saw losses to Alvarado and Manny Pacquiao. The latter took place in Nov. ’13 in Macau, China, with Rios suffering a 12-round shutout loss in his welterweight debut.

The defeat proved doubly damaging, as he tested positive for a banned substance during post-fight random drug testing as conducted by Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA). Just one fight came of his 2014 campaign, a 9th round disqualification over Diego Chaves in their ugly, foul-filled brawl last August.

Even with just nine minutes to show what he can do, Rios is now once again in possession for another big fight. Against whom exactly remains to be seen, though for the moment he doesn’t really seem to care.

“I'm going to leave it up to Cameron Dunkin,” Rios confidently stated. “He's one the best managers in the world. He'll get me the fights I want. The Russian (Provodnikov), Victor Ortiz, I'll get down with him if he wants to get it, bad blood there. Whoever.”

The bout aired live on HBO Boxing After Dark. 

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America.