OXNARD, Calif. -- Like most any Mexican or Mexican-American boxer today, Brandon Rios grew up captivated by the performances of Julio Cesar Chavez.
Inspired by the Mexican idol, Rios visualized himself from a very young age as a future world champion, going forward at all times in the ring, just as Chavez did. He also imagined himself wearing one of those green belts worn by champs such as Chavez. Those moments left a lasting impression.
"I'm half Mexican and half American, so that belt means a lot to me," Rios said. "Since I was a kid I wanted that belt; I told my dad I wanted the green belt of the World Boxing Council."
Rios didn't have the opportunity to fight for a WBC world title when he fought in the lightweight division. And now, as a junior welterweight, he isn't in the mix to earn the WBC title because of conflicts between promotional companies.
What's left for the Lubbock, Texas native is to deliver another dominant performance on Saturday when he faces Mike Alvarado (33-1, 23 KO) in a rematch of one of the best fights of 2012.
In last October's action battle, Rios got the better of the fighters' exchanges and won by seventh-round TKO, winning the respect of fans. In the rematch, he'll be fighting for more tangible stakes: a vacant junior welterweight interim title and, most likely, the chance to face the 140-pound elite and become a legend in his own right.
Rios (31-0-1, 23 KO), 26, believes he's ready to emerge, but he has no problem admitting the obvious: "I'm not the best yet. To be the best, you have to face the best."
Rios says he has watched video of the first fight at least 200 times, claiming he has detected his opponent's errors as well as his own -- he says he'll use more head movement this time around -- and is certain he'll win.
"I give it five or six rounds this time," Rios said. "I guarantee a victory. I never guarantee anything, but this time I feel very confident."
Predicting a knockout win within any number of rounds is a bold enough statement, and Rios acknowledges Alvarado as a plus-size junior welterweight and a hard-hitting warrior who will have extra motivation after coming up short in their first meeting. Still, Rios can't get over how great he feels at 140 pounds.
"My weight is perfect now," Rios said. "One-thirty-five was difficult -- it was killing me to make that weight. Now I'm making 140 easy and I feel great."
Trainer Robert Garcia believes that Rios has not only avoided losing his typical power advantage since moving up in weight, but that he has actually increased it.
"I can assure you that he has gained strength," Garcia said, "because those five pounds off hurt him, he would lose so much muscle."
For this camp, Garcia increased the number of sparring rounds for Rios, estimating that his fighter put in somewhere in the neighborhood of 170 or 180. The trainer also added track work, including sprints, to improve Rios' quickness and explosiveness.
"We are ready for whatever Alvarado could bring," Garcia said. "He has to change -- he lost the first fight. We are prepared in case he wants to box or if he wants to stand up and exchange blows."