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Rios, Alvarado rematch set for March 30 at Mandalay Bay

Brandon Rios was hoping for a chance to cash in big with a fight against Manny Pacquiao. But Juan Manuel Marquez ruined that.

Instead, Rios will take on someone with whom he’s quite familiar – Mike Alvarado – when they meet in a rematch of their epic Oct. 13 fight that the unbeaten Rios won by technical knockout in the seventh round.

Rios-Alvarado II will be March 30 at Mandalay Bay Events Center. The fight will be televised by HBO.

“Their first fight was terrific,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, whose company will promote the card. “The rematch should be just as good, if not better.”

The first meeting, at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., was a slugfest from the opening bell. Rios and Alvarado traded shots in every round, and two of the judges had the fight even going into the seventh round.

But Rios rocked Alvarado with several hard shots early in the seventh. He continued to sustain the attack to the point that referee Pat Russell decided Alvarado had had enough and stopped the fight at 1:57. It was a nominee for the 2012 Fight of the Year.

Alvarado (33-1, 23 knockouts) has been hoping to get another crack at Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs). That appeared to be unlikely until Dec. 8, when Pacquiao walked into a right hand from Marquez with seconds remaining in the sixth round.

Pacquiao was counted out, and with it went Rios’ dream of a megafight against Pacquiao, an eight-division world champion.

The 26-year-old Rios, a former WBA lightweight champion, had no problem taking on the 32-year-old Alvarado again. The WBO interim junior welterweight title will be at stake, and a win will have Rios in prime position to challenge for one of the 140-pound world titles.

“These guys are mentally tough,” Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti said. “Neither guy is going to give an inch, and when you have that kind of mindset, you’re going to have a great fight.

“I expect them to pick up where they left off on Oct. 13. To me, this is Round 8.”

The undercard will have Las Vegas’ Diego Magdaleno fighting in a 10-round super featherweight bout against an opponent to be determined.

Magdaleno (23-0, nine KOs), an NABF champion, still is hoping to get a title shot against WBO champion Rocky Martinez (26-1-2, 16 KOs) pending the disposition of Juan Carlos Burgos’ protest to the WBO following their Jan. 19 draw that allowed Martinez to retain his belt.

Tickets for the card, priced from $50 to $250, will go on sale at noon today at the Mandalay Bay box office and through Ticketmaster.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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