By Kirk Jackson
This weekend, Mike Alvarado 35-2 (24 KO’s) takes on Juan Manuel Marquez 55-8-1 (40 KO’s) at The Forum, in Inglewood, California. This is the the biggest opportunity of his career, which could eventually lead to an even bigger opportunity.
Photo: Top Rank
Without question, the winner of this fight will be firmly planted as the next challenger in the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes.
But a match-up between long-time rivals Pacquiao and Marquez is a movie we’ve seen too many times already. They’ve had classic match-ups, but it may be time to change the script and that’s what the promotional company Top Rank and the network HBO, may be banking on.
Alvarado is a crowd friendly, action-packed style of fighter. Although he does have the ability to box and fight smart from the outside, he has a tendency to abandon the game plan and mix it up, as shown in his fights against Brandon Rios, Ruslan Provodnikov, Breidis Prescott and Mauricio Herrera.
And as admirable and Arturo Gatti-esque that is, with that instinctual way of fighting, it can definitely backfire. There will definitely be a price to pay if Alvarado decides to implore that strategy against the seasoned veteran Marquez.
Over the years, Marquez displayed his pin-point accuracy, combination throwing proficiency and knockout power against fighters who get too aggressive. Just ask Juan Diaz, Manny Pacquiao or Michael Katsidis.
What makes this match really intriguing is we do not know how much Marquez has left in the tank. He’s 40-years old, and although he was competitive against the younger, fresher, Timothy Bradley back in October of last year, Marquez looked visibly slower.
His physical decline has been apparent since facing the rugged, Michael Katsidis four years ago, and honestly his decline probably extends further than that.
Alvarado is coming off a defeat against the heavy-handed Provodnikov, a fight in which he suffered a tremendous beating. With all the wars he and Marquez have been involved in, who knows how much either guy has left in the tank?
Alvarado is the younger man (aged 33) and has physical advantages over Marquez. Mr. “Mile High” has a five inch reach advantage, is a few inches taller and those advantages would definitely aid him if he decides to fight from the outside. Although this will be Mike’s first fight in the welterweight division, given his frame, he looks like he will be able to carry the weight well.
As far as matching the winner against Pacquiao, this could work out favorably for Top Rank if Alvarado defeats Marquez this weekend.
By facing Alvarado, Pacquiao would be getting in the ring with someone new, as opposed to fighting Marquez for a fifth time. Alvarado may not be heralded as an elite fighter by many insiders of the sport, but that shouldn’t diminish his ability to make the most out of his opportunity. He is a former world champion at junior welterweight and has a marketable fighting style and attitude.
He should never be overlooked. At the same token, worst case scenario, Alvarado if he were to win, could be an opponent to keep Pacquiao occupied until Top Rank can come to a truce with Golden Boy Promotions so that the fans can see Pacquiao fight other opponents. That scenario would also buy more time for promotional company to decide who to put him in against as far as mega-fights go in general, even if it’s within their own promotional stable as it usually is.
Even if Marquez were to lose, they could probably still make the fight with him and Pacquiao somewhere down the line because someone would pay to see it. It’s just a way to extend and maximize Pacquiao’s career and financial earning abilities a little bit longer.
Pacquiao would more than likely be heavily favored if a match between him and Alvarado were to ever manifest. One thing for sure is, it would certainly be an exciting fight if it were to ever happen.