Archive for March, 2013

Mike Alvarado is catching plenty of value at +350 in his Saturday night bout against Brandon Rios, who won the first match in October of last year.

Mike Alvarado is catching plenty of value at +350 in his Saturday night bout against Brandon Rios, who won the first match in October of last year. PHOTO: W.G. Ramirez

LAS VEGAS — Mike Alvarado will defeat Brandon Rios in their rematch of last year’s epic battle in October.

In their Oct. 13 bout last year, judges Max Deluca and Zach Young had the fight scored even, 57-57, while judge James Jen Kin had it 58-56 for Rios, whose crushing right hand changed the complexion of a fight that had gone back and forth the entire bout. Rios’ onslaught was relentless enough for referee Pat Russell to step in and stop the fight at 1 minute, 57 seconds of the seventh round.

Here we are less than six months later and the two will step in the ring at approximately 8 p.m. inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center, and yes, I’m taking the underdog to be victorious in the second of what could end being another great trilogy in boxing.

I’ve been to just about every media event, spoken with both fighters, chatted it up with media sorts and Top Rank and HBO executives. And let me be clear – not one other person I’ve spoken to is picking Alvarado to win this fight.

Everyone I’ve shared conversation with says Rios wins again.

Personally, I say be careful where you’re laying your money tonight. Of course, as close as the first fight was, it’s only smart to have something on an underdog as big as Alvarado. Rios was installed as high as 5-to-1, and has settled back at -450 at most places offshore and in Las Vegas. Alvarado is bringing back a price of +350.

But tossing the numbers out to just picking a winner, and all due respect to Rios, something tells me Alvarado is taking this fight a little more serious. I know Rios is a jovial and nonchalant guy who likes to joke and have fun, but there comes a time when you have to focus in on what is sure to be your toughest fight.

Just because it’s the same opponent, doesn’t mean it’s equally as tough as the first time. Alvarado is pissed. He wants revenge, and this one will be tougher on Rios.

“I don’t really have to prove a point, I’ve already proved I’m a great fighter,” Alvarado said. “I just want to win this fight.”

To Rios’ credit, he has stated he did some different training for this fight, and that’s great. But those plyometrics and strength and conditioning drills won’t shake the ire Alvarado has for his opponent. After all, Rios dealt the Denver-native his first career loss 168 days ago.

Don’t laugh, Alvarado’s been counting the days. I’m pretty sure he’s had this fight on his mind since the post-fight interviews in the ring after the first bout. His mind has been on nothing else. And it’s shown all week with his business-like attitude.

Alvarado also took on some new training, going back to Denver to train in the high altitude, intensifying his conditioning and cardio, and bringing in new sparring partners, who in hs words applied “pressure, pressure, pressure.” Saying that Rios was in his face the entire fight, he needed his sparring partners to do the same during fight camp.

And again, I’m not saying Rios hasn’t trained hard, but my take is he might be overconfident and I think I’m going to make him prove me wrong.

Alvarado is the clear value with how big a price he’s getting; but more than importantly, I like what I’ve seen and heard all week.

My money is on Milehigh Mike!

#RiosAlvarado #RiosAlvarado2 @MileHighMike303 @Brandon_Rios1 @HBOBoxing @TRBoxing

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Brandon Rios, l, and Mike Alvarado pose for the media Wednesday at the final pre-fight press conference.

Brandon Rios, left, and Mike Alvarado pose for the media Wednesday after the final pre-fight press conference at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The two fought in an epic battle last October, won by Rios. PHOTO CREDIT: W.G. Ramirez

LAS VEGAS —  All that’s left to do is fight.

Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado both weighed in at 140 pounds Friday in the Mandalay Bay Events Center, and now the world awaits the rematch from last year’s Fight of the Year-nominated bout Rios won. In that Oct. 13 bout last year, judges Max Deluca and Zach Young had the fight scored even, 57-57, while judge James Jen Kin had it 58-56 for Rios, whose crushing right hand changed the complexion of a fight that had gone back and forth the entire fight. Rios’ onslaught was relentless enough for referee Pat Russell to step in and stop the fight at 1 minute, 57 seconds of the seventh round.

And while Rios celebrated, Alvarado looked on in amazement, as he believed the fight should have continued.

Rios-Alvarado II takes place Saturday night, with the 12-round World Boxing Organization interim junior welterweight championship being televised live on HBO.

The two have headlined an event-filled week, giving the media entertained with their quips and critiques about one another, not to mention their analysis on the first fight.

“As long as there’s a ring and an opponent in front of me … I’m ready to fight,” said Rios, the former WBA lightweight champ and No. 1 ranked WBO fighter at 140 pounds.

Rios (31-0-1, 22 knockouts) is looking for his second world title in as many weight divisions, and comes into this one having won 11 of his last 13 fights by knockout. And though it’s Alvarado who is out for revenge in this fight, Rios swears he’s just as hungry as he was the first time around.

“I’m always ready for a fight,” Rios said. “I can’t go in the ring and not expect a fight or not being hungry or motivated for a fight because I can hurt myself.”

Rios, who was installed as high as a 5-to-1 favorite but settled back to -450, said though he was victorious, he’s learned plenty after watching the first fight “3, 400 times.”

“Every time I watch it I see something new and I bring it to the gym,” Rios said.

Hoping to not leave himself open after taking his shots, by pulling back and leaving his chin squared up in front of Alvarado, the former World Boxing Association lightweight champion is confident his new strength and conditioning program will have him mobile enough to avoid Alvarado’s power bombs.

“I’m not going to say this (has been) the best training camp ever, I just worked on different things I had never done before and I see a difference in my ability to move around the ring more and I’m not so much flat-footed anymore,” Rios said. “But like I’ve said, I’m a warrior, I only know one way to fight. So I might forget everything. In the gym we practice (one way), but once I get in the ring it’s a whole different story. You go back to knowing what you do best, and that’s to fight.”

And while Rios swears he’ll get Alvarado to do just that – get in the ring, scrap the gameplan and get into a slugfest – the Denver-native says he learned from the biggest mistake of his career that resulted in the first loss of his career.

“Every time I threw a shot at him, he would crouch up, block it and then fire,” said Alvarado, who bis bringing back a price of +350. “He was there the whole… every second of every round pressuring me the whole time. Not giving me any room to breathe whatsoever. Making me have to move, making me have to defend myself more and more.

“This time around I’m going to stay tighter and move. I didn’t use no leg movement at all that first fight. I didn’t even train for that type of fight.”

Alvarado took his camp to his hometown of Denver for this fight, using the elements in the high altitude to help with his conditioning, while using a new Russian sparring partner to keep the pressure on him during training sessions.

“This dude was like Forrest Gump, he didn’t stop,” Alvarado said. “He gave me the best sparring I ever had.”

And now the key for him is simple: “Keep my gameplan and focus. That’s what’s going to win this fight.”

Again, Rios says it won’t happen.

“He’s a fighter, he’s never boxed in his whole entire career,” Rios said. “He’s a toe-to-toe guy, and once he gets hit, he’s going to go back to what he does best and that’s to fight.

“So at the end of the day, me and him in the center of the ring, we’re going to be getting it on.”

As I said, all that’s left to do is fight.

#RiosAlvarado #RiosAlvarado2 @MileHighMike303 @Brandon_Rios1 @HBOBoxing @TRBoxing

LAS VEGAS — Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado are ready to step into the ring now.

Last year they fought an epic battle some called the Fight of the Year. It was nominated as such, deservedly so. In that Oct. 13 bout last year, judges Max Deluca and Zach Young had the fight scored even, 57-57, while judge James Jen Kin had it 58-56 for Rios, whose crushing right hand changed the complexion of a fight that had gone back and forth the entire fight. Rios’ onslaught was relentless enough for referee Pat Russell to step in and stop the fight at 1 minute, 57 seconds of the seventh round.

If either had it their way, this fight could’ve taken place Wednesday at Top Rank Headquarters, where the two met with the press for Media Workout Day, it could’ve taken place Thursday in the Mandalay Bay lounge that staged the final pre-fight press conference and it could take place tomorrow immediately after weigh-ins in Mandalay Bay’s arena

Both say there’s nothing left to say and are ready to strap up the gloves and ‘get it on’ as the retired boxing referee Mills Lane might say.

“As long as there’s a ring and an opponent in front of me … I’m ready to fight,” said Rios, who as of 4:45 p.m. Thursday was installed as a -450 favorite.

Alvarado brings a comeback price of +375, at the LVH. No round props were up yet.

“I don’t really have to prove a point, I’ve already proved I’m a great fighter,” Alvarado said. “I just want to win this fight.”

#RiosAlvarado #RiosAlvarado2 @MileHighMike303 @Brandon_Rios1 @HBOBoxing @TRBoxing

So the Miami Heat have won 27 in a row after Monday’s win and cover in Orlando. But as the oddsmakers have to be going through a state of New England Patriotism – how big a favorite do they make the Heat each time out – I think we may have found the right times to bet on or against the defending NBA champions.

Here are some analytical looks as to when to invest in the Miami Heat, and when to bet against them…

First of all, during this 27-0 straight-up (SU) win streak, the Heat are 16-11 against the spread (ATS). At home, they’re 6-8 at the window while cashing in 10 of 13 with a suitcase in hand. That’s not to say they’re always unfocused at American Airlines Arena in South Beach, and more focused on shuffling over to Prime Italian for their after-game meals.

Remember, the oddsmakers are more inclined to put a double digit number on the Heat at home, and as it is, the Heat are just 8-11 as a double-digit favorite this season.

What I did notice, no matter what the point spread has been at home, when the Heat return to Miami they’re 0-4 ATS in their first game back. They’re also 1-3 ATS in their second consecutive game back at home. If the homestand extends past two games, the Heat’s numbers improve, as they’re 2-1 in Game 3, 2-0 in Game 4 and 1-0 in the fifth straight game of a homestand.

On the road, the pyramid flips, as Miami appears to be immediately focused when hitting the highway, with a 3-1 ATS mark in Game 1 of a road trip. The number stays healthy, until Games 4 and 5 of an extended road trip.

The Heat are 3-0 in Game 2 of a junket, 2-0 in Game 3, 2-1 in Game 4 and 0-1 in Game 5.

As for how much rest the best team in basketball might need, the breakdown is as follows:

  • On the second of back-to-back nights: 3-4 ATS
  • Playing on one day’s rest: 11-6 ATS
  • Playing on two day’s rest: 1-1
  • And the five-day rest period over the All-Star break: 1-0

Finally, here is a breakdown of actual point spreads that are in your favor when betting on the Heat, and that work against you:

  • Miami is a perfect 6-0 ATS when laying anywhere from 3′ to 5′ points.
  • Miami is 8-4 ATS when laying a number ranging from 6 to 11 points.
  • Miami sinks to a lowly 2-7 ATS when laying 11′ or more points.

Obviously, when the Heat are playing tougher competition and the number is lower, their stars on the floor longer and covering numbers. When they’re playing mid-range teams that would likely seed 5 through 8 in their respective conference playoffs – pure speculation – they could be up big and coach Erik Spoelstra is pulling his stars late and there might be backdoor covers. And when they’re playing the dregs of the NBA, it’s obvious Spoelstra is taking no chances, his stars playing less time and the Heat are doing what they have to nab the straight-up win.

So, when do the Heat next step on the court and where do all these intangible fall into place?

Miami plays the second of a four-game road trip Wednesday night in Chicago, after one day’s rest. The Heat failed to win or cover -7-1/2 the first time these two played – in Miami on Jan. 4 – and then won and covered the -3-1/2 in Chi-town in the second meeting (2/21).

Based on everything I’ve just broken down for you, and with a guess the line will be about 4 or 4-1/2, I’d lay the points with Miami to make a statement.

So much for the old theory of going against NBA teams that play in Salt Lake City, Utah, with the conception they can’t handle the altitude. This used to be a major basketball betting system, going against teams that play the second of back-to-back nights in Salt Lake, or Denver.

And while those numbers are forthcoming, I wanted to take a look at how teams fared when they ended a road trip of three games or more in Salt Lake City, which eight squads have done.

Boston, New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, Sacramento, Houston and Memphis have all had elongated road trips finish up against the Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake. And five of those teams ended their road trips by playing their road game in Utah, on the second of back-to-back nights.

Let’s start there, since the Philadelphia 76ers are doing just that tonight.

Boston, New York, Chicago, Houston and Memphis have all done it, with the Rockets being the only team to lose both straight-up (SU) and against the spread (ATS).

The other four all won both on the hardwood and against the spread.

The other three teams that ended their road trips in Salt Lake City, but did not play the final game on the second of back-to-back nights, were Cleveland, Washington and Sacramento.

The overall tally for those teams concluding their junkets with the Jazz at EnergySolutions is 4-4 SU and 6-2 ATS.

Again those playing that final game on the second of back-to-back nights is 4-1 SU and ATS.

Tonight the Sixers are catching +7-1/2 points from Utah, after winning last night in Sacramento, 117-103.

Philadelphia is in on ATS win streaks of 4-1 versus the Western Conference, 4-0 after an ATS cover and 6-1 overall. Conversely, the Sixers are mired in ATS slides of 8-20 when playing with no rest and 1-6 against the Northwest division.

The Jazz, meanwhile, are in on ATS win streaks of 5-0 after a straight-up loss, 5-1 against losing teams and 4-1 overall.

In this series, the home team has covered six straight, while the Jazz are on a 16-7 ATS roll – including 4-0 in Utah.

With the Jazz looking to stay alive in the Western Conference race, and the Sixers in after an offensively explosive game last night in Sactown, I’ll lay the points as your free winner. Take the Utah Jazz tonight in the NBA!!!