- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Brandon Rios sat ringside in Las Vegas two weeks ago to watch Manny Pacquiao’s fourth meeting with Juan Manuel Marquez knowing full well that he was the first option for the winner to fight next, especially if Pacquiao had won.
Well, we all know what happened -- Marquez obliterated Pacquiao with one monstrous right hand and knocked him out with one second left in the sixth round.
With a fifth fight likely looming between Marquez and Pacquiao in 2013, Rios’ huge-fight dreams were put on hold. He’s not going to get Pacquiao or Marquez next. So now Top Rank is on to Plan B -- and, for fight fans, it’s a great Plan B: A junior welterweight rematch between Rios and Mike Alvarado.
Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs), a former lightweight titleholder, stopped Alvarado (33-1, 23 KOs) in the seventh round on Oct. 13 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in a sensational, all-action battle that is among the best fights of the past few years. It was a dramatic fight with tons of punches and lots of ebb and flow. And it was highly competitive -- it was 57-57 on two scorecards at the time of the stoppage while Rios led 58-56 on the third.
Who wouldn’t want to see a rematch?
With Pacquiao and Marquez out of the picture for the time being for Rios, Top Rank has begun talking with the Rios and Alvarado camps about doing a rematch. HBO is hot for the fight, which -- if everything works out – is penciled in for March 16. It could take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where I believe it would draw a big crowd after the slugfest they put on in October.
In fact, Cameron Dunkin, Rios’ manager, is supposed to meet with Top Rank president Todd duBoef on Wednesday to work on terms for the fight.
The October Rios-Alvarado fight was on the undercard of the Nonito Donaire-Toshiaki Nishioka bout on HBO, but the rematch would be a headliner on the network.
Rios has few other options, because his most obvious meaningful opponents -- titleholder Danny Garcia, interim titlist Lucas Matthysse and former titleholder Amir Khan -- are all with Golden Boy, and Golden Boy and Top Rank won’t do business with each other. Besides, Garcia is scheduled to face Zab Judah on Feb. 9, Matthysse fights Hank Lundy on Jan 26 and Khan, who beat Carlos Molina last Saturday, just signed an exclusive deal with Showtime while Rios’ next fight will be on HBO.