When Brandon Rios met Mike Alvarado in October in a 10-round junior welterweight scrap, he still was reeling from troubles making weight and an ugly (and perhaps undeserved) win over Richard Abril.
Well, just look at him now.
Having dispatched Alvarado by seventh-round TKO in one of the best fights of 2012, the still-undefeated Rios is set to face his rival again -- this time for a vacant junior welterweight interim title -- Saturday in Las Vegas.
The rematch unfolds under the weight of great expectations. In their first epic battle, Rios (31-0, 22 KOs) seemed to take the worst of the punishment in the early rounds, but he never faltered. He kept the pressure on Alvarado (33-1 23 KOs), trading punches in violent exchanges and eventually staggering Alvarado on the ropes to force the stoppage.
Alvarado claims he'll make adjustments to stay out of trouble in the rematch, but Rios isn't buying it. Will Rios be ready if he does?
Here are five keys to victory for Rios against Alvarado: