LAS VEGAS — Mike Alvarado boxed his way to a narrow but unanimous decision over Brandon Rios on Saturday to take the interim WBO light welterweight title and reverse the outcome of their slugfest five months ago.
Alvarado came on strong in the late rounds to win 115-113 on two scorecards and 114-113 on the other, avenging his seventh-round loss to his fellow Hispanic American in October.
The ringside punch totals were almost as close as the scoring, with Alvarado credited with landing 261 punches to 241 for Rios.
It wasn’t as dramatic as the first fight, when Rios stopped Alvarado after being rocked himself a round earlier. But the fight was still thrilling at times, fought at a high level.
It also occasionally brutal, as evidenced by the cut on Alvarado’s forehead and his swollen face. He was taken to a hospital for a precautionary brain scan after the fight, and Rios also was taken to the hospital.
“Brandon gave me a shot to redeem myself,” Alvarado said. “I’ll give him a shot for the trilogy.”
Alvarado was again more than willing to trade punches with Rios, but began boxing more in the middle rounds, a change in strategy that may have won him the fight. Rios expended a lot of energy chasing him, and was not able to land as many big punches as in the first fight.
Alvarado won three of the last four rounds on two scorecards and all four on a third to pull out the fight.
“I won the first won, now they want to make the third one,” Rios said. “Let’s make the third one.”
Promoter Bob Arum said he wants to see a third fight, but would look elsewhere for both fighters for their next fights.
“Are these guys going to fight again?” Arum asked. “Of course they will. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be next.”
It was the first loss for Rios (31-1-1), while Alvarado (34-1) avenged his only defeat.