Thursday, January 22, 2015

On Mike Alvarado

I have declined to write a straight preview article for Saturday's third matchup between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado. Although their first two meetings were unforgettable wars and their third bout certainly qualifies as a notable event on the boxing calendar, I don’t believe that Saturday will deliver a particularly memorable fight. I'm not knocking HBO for purchasing Saturday's matchup or Top Rank for arranging it. And I will definitely be watching. However, I don't feel very confident about what Alvarado has left in his career.

Consider Alvarado's last bout against Juan Manuel Marquez in April, where he was shockingly tentative throughout large portions of the match. Think about his repeated mentions in the police blotter. I'm not really sure if he’s "all there" as a fighter or an individual at this point.

Alvarado, like Rios, has been in a number of brutal slugfests in the ring. However, he no longer seems to possess the same zest for fighting that Rios does. Over the last few years, he has been knocked out twice, changed his style repeatedly, introduced and swapped out new members of his training staff and had run-ins with the law. The last time that Alvarado fought in Colorado, where Saturday’s fight will take place, he had an awful camp, during which his training staff fought one another and he spent more time being a local Denver celebrity than preparing for a tough opponent. As Alvarado approaches Saturday's fight, almost every single trend line is negative. 

Being a discerning reader, I’m sure that you can tell that I'm not particularly rosy about Alvarado’s prospects this weekend. He needed to be at his best to defeat Rios in their rematch and I believe that Mike Alvarado in January of 2015 is far from that fighter. To be fair, Rios has taken quite a beating as well over the years. And although his reflexes might have slowed down some, he still attacks unmercifully and applies relentless pressure, as long as that fighter isn't an elite guy – a status that has never been bestowed upon Alvarado. 

Let me leave you with a few paragraphs that I wrote about Alvarado after his fight with Marquez:  
"[S]ince his knockout loss to Brandon Rios, he has not demonstrated confidence in his ring performances. Each fight has seen a massive change of his style and various points of indecisiveness. He went from being a straight banger to a boxer-puncher, to a southpaw boxer to...whatever he was on Saturday. He has brought in new assistant trainers, dismissed them and hired new ones...
"On Saturday, Alvarado was a fighter who doubted his own abilities and talents. He didn't revel in combat; he often shied away from it. And unfortunately, Alvarado lacks the technical skills and athleticism to win important fights without engaging in big exchanges...
"Alvarado is in need of some serious recuperation. I'm not sure if he has the fortitude to stay on the straight-and-narrow but the ring is not the place for him right now; he is close to a broken fighter. The old Alvarado would have jumped on a wounded enemy with reckless abandon; this one hoped that his shots were enough for the bully to stay away for a while. Alvarado was spooked. And the ghosts aren't going away any time soon."  
I'd like to be wrong about Alvarado. I hope that I am. I'd like nothing more than to see this third fight live up to the high standards of the first two. I want boxing fans to see something truly memorable. But I just don't see it happening. Ultimately, I think Rios makes him fold. 

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter

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