Brandon Rios, left, and Mike Alvarado pose during their weigh-in at Manhattan… (Harry How / Getty Images )
Nonito Donaire hopes to affirm his position as one of the world's top super-bantamweights Saturday night.
Brandon Rios is out to prove he can take a brawler's best punch in his junior-welterweight debut.
Their fight card at Home Depot Center in Carson has created some buzz for boxing's hard-core fans.
Donaire (29-1, 18 knockouts), the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization champion, faces perhaps his stiffest challenge yet in the main event against World Boxing Council champion Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KOs) of Japan.
"I have great respect for him," Donaire said. "He's a southpaw who has power, intelligence and speed. He's a tactical guy."
Donaire, 29, plans to use a mix of speed and power to penetrate the 36-year-old Nishioka's defense.
"I have a game plan, but what'll be fun is having to switch it and figure out what game plan is the best," Donaire said. "This fight will probably be won by the guy who's smarter."
Meanwhile, the 140-pound bout between Oxnard's Rios (30-0-1, 22 KOs) and Denver's Mike Alvarado (33-0, 23 KOs) should be a slugfest.
Rios, 26, has battled weight problems in his two most recent fights, losing his World Boxing Assn. lightweight belt on the scale before a December technical knockout of John Murray, then failing to make weight again in trying to recapture the belt before a split-decision win over Richard Abril in April.
Alvarado, 32, rallied impressively to knock out Breidis Prescott in the 10th and final round of their November bout, then withstood Mauricio Herrera to win by decision in April.
"People are calling this the fight of the year before it even goes down. We'll find out if I can take a punch from a bigger guy. I know I can take the best possible punch from a lightweight," Rios said. "I'm ready. I know I'll bring my power up in weight with me. I feel I can knock him out."
Rios said he's developed improved head movement and inside fighting skills during training and is more confident about his jab.
"I want a statement to show the 140-pound division I'm ready," Rios said. "Give me anyone after this: the [Manny] Pacquiao-[Juan Manuel] Marquez winner, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse. Any champion."
Despite great friction between Donaire's promoter, Top Rank, and Golden Boy, which promotes WBC super-bantamweight champion Abner Mares, a Donaire victory Saturday could move that bout closer to reality.
Mares defends his belt Nov. 10 at Staples Center.
"A lot of people call me out," Donaire said. "When I see his name on the dotted line, I will be excited about that."