LAS VEGAS - A fight against legendary champion Juan Manuel Marquez was Brandon Rios’ to lose going into Saturday.
And despite a win, Rios may have lost it. Still drained after a losing battle to make the lightweight limit of 135 pounds, Rios fought an uninspired bout and didn’t do anything to increase his position for a July 14 match against the highly regarded Mexican champion Marquez.
There wasn’t a lot of outrage in the Mandalay Bay Events Center when the scores favoring Rios were announced, but social media networks blew up in protest. Judge Jerry Roth had it 116-112 for Rios, while Glenn Trowbridge favored Rios, 115-113. The third judge, Adalaide Byrd, had Abril, 117-111.
The problem from Rios’ standpoint was that he didn’t have the fire and spark that he usually brings to the ring. He landed few punches of significance and complained later that Abril was continually holding.
Marquez, who routed Sergey Fedchenko on Saturday in Mexico City in the main event of the split-site pay-per-view, will fight at Cowboys Stadium on July 14.
The opponent, though, is a mystery. Top Rank’s plan was to have it be Rios, and it’s probably fair to say that Rios is still the leader in the clubhouse, but the combination of Rios’ lackluster performance and Mike Alvarado’s sensational effort closed the gap.
“We’ll sit down and talk with Marquez and see what he wants to do,” said promoter Bob Arum, who had Rios winning 115-113.
Alvarado made a case for himself earlier on Saturday’s card, winning a unanimous decision over Mauricio Herrera in an exciting fight that had the crowd in the arena roaring its approval.
“I want Marquez, I deserve Marquez and I’m ready for Marquez,” Alvarado said. “I have no weight issues. I’ve paid my dues.”
Alvarado, who is 33-0 with 23 knockouts, isn’t as high-profile. Top Rank president Todd duBoef said he’s not sure if Alvarado has big-enough name recognition to headline a pay-per-view with Marquez.
If he didn’t have the name recognition before, he should after back-to-back rousing bouts. In November, Alvarado stopped Breidis Prescott in the final round of a bout he was losing badly, turning Arum euphoric and comparing it to a “Rocky!” movie.
Rios said much of his problems Saturday were from a misguided effort to make weight. He lost his WBA lightweight title on the scale in December when he missed weight by 1.6 pounds.
He agreed to try it again at Top Rank’s urging for Saturday’s bout, but weighed 137 on Friday. He was fined $45,000, 10 percent of his $450,000 purse.