Can HBO promote Mike Alvarado as the new Arturo Gatti?
By Kirk Jackson
Well it did not go as planned for Mike Alvarado in his last fight on HBO.
The former WBO junior welterweight champion suffered a destructive TKO defeat from the hands of the Eastern European, Ruslan Provodnikov in Alvarado’s hometown of Denver.
Despite Alvarado setting the tone early, establishing his jab and using lateral movement to avoid the incoming punishment from Provodnikov to begin the fight, the relentless Russian applied pressure throughout the fight and systematically broke down Alvarado.
Provodnikov ended up stunning and staggering Alvarado several times throughout the fight, knocking him down twice in the 8th round and unleashing a severe beating in the 10th round leaving Alvarado dazed at the end of the round.
It would be the last round of this thrilling fight, as the corner of Alvarado and the referee Tony Weeks decided it would be best to end the fight.
It was yet another tremendous action packed bout, and despite the defeat, Alvarado should remain in good standing with the fans. He fought his heart out and showed he was a true warrior. Similar to the late Arturo Gatti.
Albeit they did have diverse paths on how they came up, different roads traveled in regards to their respective ascension to the top.
Trends both Gatti and Alvarado share is the tendency to produce action packed classic fights.
Most boxing fans know of Gatti’s legendary list of action bouts. Fights against Oscar De La Hoya, Ivan Robinson, Floyd Mayweather, and his trilogy with Mickey Ward.
He signed with HBO in 1995 and also participated in Ring Magazine’s “Fight of the Year” a total of four times (1997, 1998, 2002, and 2003).
With Alvarado, he has action fights against Breidis Prescott, Mauricio Herrera, the two classics with Brandon Rios and of course his fight this past weekend against Provodnikov.
Alvarado lacks the star power and following Gatti had, but with his recent performances in the ring, HBO can potentially cash in. After the two fights with Rios, with Alvarado’s toughness on full display, there was a newfound respect gained from many spectators of the sport as they became more familiar with Alvarado.
Gatti had a huge east coast following and a hardcore following from a boxing purist perspective as well. He captured the attention of casual fans with his hardcore, action-packed bouts, and also endeared himself to the fans because of his down to earth personality.
By all accounts many boxing observers have witnessed Alvarado’s recent artwork inside the ring. He also comes across as a humble guy who just wants to put on the best fights for the fans.
Although the tread on the tire may be running a little thin with Alvarado at the age of 33 and with his constant involvement in these action packed battles, he is one of the few fighters left on the network with potential star power.
A lot will depend on who Alvarado matches up against with next and what he has left in the tank. And that can depend on what Top Rank wants do, as they are the premier promoting company on HBO. A move up in weight to the welterweight division may benefit Alvarado, as he has had difficulties making the junior welterweight limit of 140 lbs. recently.
Some intriguing bouts for Alvarado include a third bout against Rios sometime after he finishes his business with Manny Pacquiao later this year. A rematch with Provodnikov may be a possibility, as is fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, or maybe against Pacquiao somewhere down the line.
Can Alvarado replace Arturo Gatti’s as the sport’s premier blood and guts warrior? “Mile High” Mike could never take Gatti’s place, and nor is that expected of him. It would be disrespectful to both Gatti and Alvarado to think in such a way.
But Alvarado can be one of the guys to take the mantle as one of the most exciting guys in the sport.
There’s endless possibilities and opportunities for Alvarado, and if marketed right, he can do some great things for HBO and the sport.