After struggling and failing to make the 135-pound limit in his past two bouts, former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios is bringing his exciting style to the junior welterweight division.
Rios (30-0-1, 22 KOs), 26, will take on fellow action fighter Mike Alvarado (33-0, 23 KOs) on Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in the co-feature of a card headlined by Nonito Donaire's junior featherweight title defense against Toshiaki Nishioka (HBO, 10 ET/PT).
ESPN.com caught up with Rios during a recent break from training camp in Oxnard, Calif.
How was the training for this fight?
Well, my preparation is going great. I feel great. We worked on different tactics. We know Mike Alvarado is a tough opponent, so we're working on some things that we expect from this fight, but we'll be great and we'll be ready for Mike Alvarado.
Did you feel there was less pressure in the weight situation? Did you feel you had more energy throughout training camp?
Making this fight is going to be easier for me, because at 135 I was killing myself just to make 135. So 140 is going to be even better because I don't have to kill myself as much. I feel great, the weight is going great, so it's going to be to my advantage because I am going to be at 100 percent. I feel that in my last two fights at 135, the reason why I didn't do so good in my performance was because I was weight-drained, but this time I am not going to be weight-drained and I will be the guy who comes to fight and put on a good show for the fans and go for a knockout. And that's what I am going to do.
You outgrew the 135-pound division sooner than you expected. Was it natural growth or cheat meals?
I think it was my natural growth. I was getting too big at 135. I had hired a nutritionist for my last fight that I did at 135 and I still couldn't make it. My body just would go as far down as 137, nowhere else. So it was just my body getting too big at 135, because I was a big 135-pounder. One-forty is going to be great for me and I am going to be ready 100 percent.
Are you betting on carrying your power up in this new division to try to score a knockout, or will you try to make this more of a boxing match?
The way I am going to do it, I want to make a big statement. So I am going out for a knockout. I am going out to knock him out. I am not going to box him. I am going for a knockout because I want to make a big statement at 140, and I want to shut up everybody who doubted me, all the critics and so on. I am going to make a big statement and carry my power. One-forty, here I come. I usually don't go for knockouts, but this time I am.
What do you make of your opponent Mike Alvarado as a fighter and as a survivor who comes from behind to score knockouts?
Well, yeah, maybe [Breidis] Prescott was the biggest name he fought. He got hurt in that fight and came from behind to score a knockout, because Prescott just gassed out, and he didn't have that much energy anymore. But Mauricio Herrera did stay close and fought him inside, and he hit him pretty good, with good shots. But I feel I hit harder than Mauricio Herrera. If Mike Alvarado gets hit like he did against Mauricio Herrera or Prescott, I am going to knock him out.
Alvarado is a natural fighter at 140 and you'll be making your debut in this division. Do you see the weight situation being a factor in the fight?
Well, no, honestly. If you look at it, I was a 140-pounder making 135. There were a lot of times when it was hard for me to make weight, because I couldn't make 135. The weight factor is not going to be an issue. I am at the weight now, so that's not a problem for me. I just want to be tested at 140, and Mike Alvarado is the guy who can test me. That's why we picked him. I want to show the fans and everyone that I am ready to make a big statement, and I am going to knock him out.
The junior welterweight division is in a bit of a turmoil right now, with several guys going up and others coming in strong. Where do you see yourself in the division?
Well, I see myself doing very well, because I can fight these guys. They are the reason why I am at this division, because they are not at 135 anymore. There were good guys at 135, but there weren't strong guys like these. So, I am moving to 140 because I want those guys. I want Lucas Matthysse and I want [Timothy] Bradley; I want those types of guys. They're no different than I am. I can make 140, and I can be tough at this division, too.
If you had to choose one of them for a megafight and the bragging rights in the division, who would it be?
I'd love to fight the winner of the fight between [Manny] Pacquiao and [Juan Manuel] Marquez, because my manager Cameron Dunkin can make that fight happen. If not, Danny Garcia. I would love to make that fight, too. Any guys with a title, or any of the top guys at light welterweight out there, I am ready for. It doesn't matter who he is, I am ready for them. I think I can prove everybody wrong.
Finally, how do you envision the fight against Alvarado in your mind?
The way I see it, it's going to be a tough, strong, good fight. The fans are going to love it. We're going to go back and forth and it's going to be a bloody fight. He is going to be bruised up, I am going to get bruised up; but I see me stopping him between the eighth and 10th round.