A Crossroad Fight: Alvarado vs Marquez
Denver’s Mike Alvardo and Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez face each other on May 17 in what could make or break their futures in the sport of boxing. Alvarado quit on his stool in the 11th round of his WBO light welterweight title bout against Ruslan Provodnikov. On the other hand, Marquez lost to former WBO welterweight king Timothy Bradley via a close but clear split decision last October 12. So in this battle for redemption, who has the upper hand?
Let’s try to dissect both men:
Mike Alvarado was feeling mile high when he decisioned Brandon Rios in their March 2013 rematch to capture the interim WBO light welterweight championship. That rematch took place five months after Rios TKOed Alvarado in the 7th round of what Sports Illustrated called “The Fight of the Year of 2012”. Although Alvarado lost their first encounter, he gained international recognition as a tough and exciting brawler. And after masterfully blending brawling and boxing in their rematch, Alvarado looked like he was going to be the next big thing.
And then he ran into the Siberian Rocky. Ruslan Provodnikov was coming off a loss to Timothy Bradley. Provodnikov relentlessly attacked Alvarado throughout the bout until the American finally suffered two knockdowns in the eighth round. Provodnikov kept the pressure up, and Alvarado quit before the start of the eleventh round. To his credit, Provodnikov was ahead on all card when the fight was stopped.
After the bout, Alvarado’s team claimed that their man looked beyond the little known Prvodnikov and didn’t train hard for the bout. His trainer Shann Vilhauer said that the Rios victory got into his head and he fought differently.
But Alvarado must be special, because seven months after that loss, he is fighting in a main event against a Mexican legend.
Juan Manuel Marquez is one of the greatest Mexican boxers ever. He has won an amazing seven world titles in four different weight classes. Marquez is well known for his four fight rivalry against Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao. Marquez had the last laugh in the rivalry when he stunned the world by knocking out Pacman in the sixth round of their fourth fight. But like Alvardo, the celebration was cut short when he was diffused by Tim Bradley in his next bout. And for Marquez, time may be running out. He is turning 41 this August 23.
Yet instead of going for the big money in fighting Pacquiao for a fifth time or challenging Ruslan Provodnikov, Marquez chose to fight the bigger and younger Alvarado.
Five Titles, Five Weight Classes
Marquez, Erik Morales and Jorge Arce share the distinction of being the only Mexican fighters to win titles in four different weight classes. For Marquez to separate himself from them and the rest of the other Mexican greats, he believes he must win a title in a fifth weight class.
Provodnikov’s belt was once in Juan Manuel’s waist. So for him, fighting the Siberian Rocky will not go well with his plans. What Marquez wants is a welterweight belt. He lost in his first attempt against Bradley. But the WBO has declared that the Alvarado-Marquez bout is a title eliminator, meaning the winner gets a shot at Manny Pacquiao who beat Bradley last month for the WBO welterweight diadem.
And while Marquez had previously ruled out a fifth fight with the Pacman, he’s softened his stance last month. Marquez said “We’ll see.” when asked about Pacman. Marquez also said that he has to deal with Alvarado first, then decide on what’s best.
The other title holders in the welterweight division are: Floyd Mayweather Jr(WBC and Ring), Marcos Maidana( WBA) and Shawn Porter( IBF). Mayweather and Maidana unify their belts on May 3. And when Mayweather wins, which in most probability will happen, Juan Manuel will have no choice but to face Pacquiao again or fight Shawn Porter. But Porter is a high risk and low reward opponent for Marquez.
The undefeated American is only 26 years of age and is unbeaten in 24 bouts. He has beaten notable fighters like Paulie Malignaggi, Julio Diaz and Devon Alexander. Also, a potential Maqruez-Porter bout will not sell PPVs anywhere in the world. So fighting Porter is not an option.
This leads us to the WBO. Many people were surprised because the Alvarado-Marquez tiff was declared as the WBO title eliminator. Both Alvarado and Marquez are coming off losses, and eliminators are usually fought by top contenders. But this is boxing, it is a business and PPV reigns supreme.
At 33, Mike Alvarado is also at the crossroad of his career. While he won his first major title two fights ago, he’s lost two of his last three bouts by stoppage. He is an exciting brawler, but it’s also that style that makes him an easy to hit target, especially for the heavy bombers. But he’s tough, and he wants redemption. It won’t be easy.
Juan Manuel Marquez might not be chasing Bernard Hopkins’ longevity records, but he says that he wants a fifth division title. As a technical fighter, Marquez is one of the greatest counter punchers the sport has ever seen. But he is 40, and he is not an alien like Hopkins. Marquez has the advantage over brawlers as evidenced by his record against Pacquiao. But he’s struggled against boxers like Mayweather and Bradley.
If Alvardo comes out at Marquez like a raging bull, Juan Manuel is the perfect matador with his counter punching. But Alvarado is two inches taller and has a five inch reach advantage. And who knows what pop is left in Juan Manuel’s punches after twenty years in the business. That’s a question that will only be answered n the ring on May 17.
As for Alvarado, he’s got a smaller and older opponent out there. Mike can box like he did against Rios, but he is an action fighter and he’s going to brawl. He knows he has the physical advantage over Marquez. He’s got to use that, but wisely. Because that ducking-right cross which knocked Pacman out cold is always waiting.
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