Saturday Night Fever: Marquez-Alvarado Preview

By Teron Briggs on May 16, 2014
Saturday Night Fever: Marquez-Alvarado Preview
Fans should be happy to have boxing back at one of the sport’s most heralded institutions.

Living ring legend Juan Manuel Marquez returns to the grand old Forum in Inglewood, California to face former interim belt holder Mike “Mile High” Alvarado…

Do you remember the last time a live boxing card was televised on HBO, the former unofficial home of The Sweet Science? If you don’t it’s because the network has aired nearly an entire season of Game of Thrones since either of its boxing flagship series, World Championship Boxing and Boxing After Dark, have graced the airwaves. The last live fight HBO televised was on March 29th when heavy favorite and WBO light-heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovelev crushed some dude named Cedric. That farce of a title defense was as forgettable as the name of the gabby, characterless blonde I meet after a few drinks at a club in the Meatpacking District last week. The long wait is finally over on Saturday night as living ring legend Juan Manuel Marquez (55-7, 1, 40 KOs), aka Dinamita, returns to the grand old Forum in Inglewood, California to face former interim belt holder Mike “Mile High” Alvarado (34-2, 23 KOs) in a title eliminator for the WBO welterweight strap held by Manny Pacquiao.

Place this fight between one of the most recognizable stars in the sport, Marquez, and one of the most entertaining, Alvarado, anywhere and it would create electricity. The anticipation and buildup for this main event is heightened because it marks the first boxing card since 2001 at the recently renovated Forum, the longtime west coast Mecca of the sport. Ken Norton, Tommy Hearns, Sugar Shane Mosley, Muhammad Ali, Oscar De La Hoya (he made his professional debut here) and Marco Antonio Barrera are just a few of the boxing greats to showcase their skills at the Forum. Marquez and Alvarado will have to leave it to the media and fans to get nostalgic over the home to some of the best fights of the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s as they prepare to meet in a true crossroads showdown. The winner will not only rebound from a recent loss, both in October of last year, Marquez to Tim Bradley and Mile High Mike to Ruslan Provodnikov, but they would be setting themselves up for a huge payday with the second most popular fighter in the sport.

“Alvarado likes to fight and I like to fight, and the people want to see a great fight and this will be a great fight,” the 40-year-old Marquez said in the buildup to this bout. When you’ve made as much money as Dinamita has in his career, more than I can add up with my cheap iPhone calculator, and been in as many mega-fights you have to find something unique in each fight to keep yourself motivated. A win here would give Marquez an opportunity to fight for the WBO belt, which if he won would allow him to become the first fighter of Mexican descent to win world championships in five weight divisions (he’s won four, if you count his interim title at junior welterweight.) Though Marquez insists he’s only focused on the battle-tested challenger ahead of him the significance of winning another world title remains a goal. “That’s what I want to do,” he said. “I want to make history by winning another world title. It’s something that’s never been done. That is what I am looking forward to towards the end of my career, to win that next world title.”

When Marquez steps into the ring at the Forum he’ll be fighting in a venue that helped him etch his name into boxing lore. In twelve career fights at the former home of the LA Lakers and Kings the Mexican icon is 12-0 with nine stoppage victories. To beat Alvarado, a former standout high school wrestler with a Hulk Hogan-esque ability to absorb punishment and a Stone Cold Steve Austin capability to dish it out, won’t be easy. Marquez and his future Hall of Fame trainer Nacho Beristain can look to his past for a possible blueprint on how to defeat the come forward brawler from Denver. In 2010 in the lightweight division Dinamita scored one of his most impressive victories when he stopped former world titleholder and all around badass Michael Katsidis (29-6, 24 KOs) in the ninth round. Prior to the TKO the younger and arguably stronger Katsidis unloaded his entire offensive arsenal on the man from Mexico City, shockingly even dropping him with a clean left hook in the third round during a hellacious exchange. Marquez, one of the best counterpunchers in the history of the game, was able to use hard, accurate counters to mark up the delicate face of Katsidis and whittle away his defense. A lauded technician with an excellent jab, Marquez’s underrated power propelled him to victory when he landed a ferocious uppercut that temporarily separated Katsidis from his senses and ultimately forced the referee to halt the contest. Standing at 5’9”, about two inches taller than Marquez, and known for his stiff upright stance, Alvarado could be perfectly set up for this Marquez’s uppercut and overhand right. If Alvarado has any questions about whether Dinamita’s power will transfer to this weight, he can use Marquez’s spectacular one-punch knockout of Paquiao in December of 2012 as proof that it has.

As mentioned earlier, Marquez and Alvarado both lost their last fights but all losses aren’t created equal and the punishment that the latter suffered in a 10-round TKO might’ve been career altering. Homecomings are supposed to be full of excitement and fun, but Alvarado’s defense of his interim WBO junior welterweight title in his place of birth turned out to be more disastrous than a Donald Sterling speech to the NAACP. Against Ruslan Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KOs), the man nicknamed the “Siberian Rocky,” Alvarado displayed his best and worst qualities before finally succumbing in a vicious war of attrition. Alvarado boxed pretty well in the early rounds, using good movement to keep Provodnikov off balance, however in the middle rounds he was baited into fighting toe-to-toe. By the eighth round he was visibly exhausted and simply unable to keep the hard charging Russian off him. He blames much of that loss on not training properly and allowing his success to make him content: “I wasn’t living the right way. I wasn’t hungry enough.” Since then Alvarado has changed training camps from his hometown, where numerous distractions exist, for the quiet suburbs of Los Angeles. After struggling to make 140 lbs. in recent fights, this contest will be at a catch-weight of 143 lbs., somehow allowing the bout to be a 147-lb. welterweight title eliminator.

The strategy that Alvarado employed early in the Provodnikov fight and for his rematch with Brandon Rios, which he won by unanimous decision (after being knocked out in their brutal first fight), is seemingly his only chance to beat Marquez. He’s been in three straight “Fight of the Year” type brawls with two face-first sluggers, but Marquez can be as hard to hit as a juiced up Roger Clemens fastball. On Alvarado’s resume, there isn’t another fighter with a quarter of the skills as Marquez, so this should be a whole new ballgame for him. However, Alvarado doesn’t think that will be an issue recently stating on a conference call that “style-wise he is going to be tailor-made as well. I have been watching a lot of films and everyone knows, they have been watching Marquez for a long time he is a legend in the sport and has made his mark but he’s not a hard man to figure out.” If Alvarado doesn’t use his jab to create openings for his power shots, instead choosing to load up on his punches, Marquez’s accurate and compact shots will make it a long night for him.

Regardless of the outcome of this intriguing match-up, fight fans should be happy to have boxing back at one of the sport’s most heralded institutions, the “Fabulous” Forum, and on one of its biggest platforms, HBO World Championship Boxing.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

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  1. Darrell 06:51pm, 05/17/2014

    Marquez by wide decision.

    Entertaining matchup though….

  2. Thresher 05:13pm, 05/17/2014

    having gone up in weight and presumably more comfortable, Mike will take on the best counter puncher in boxing in Juan Manuel Marquez (55-7-1).  Though he will have a reach and height advantage over Marquez, Mike must avoid getting into all-out exchanges. But more to the point, how much does Mile High have left after five wars in a row? Indeed, how much did Michael Katsidis have left when he was counterpunched into a head-snapping stoppage loss in 2010 against JMM? The thinking here is that this Mike won’t have enough to keep the master technician off him

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