The opportunity Mike Alvarado has been graced with on Saturday night isn't one he expected to receive.
Alvarado told TSS he was surprised he got the nod to fight one of boxings elite superstars, Juan Manuel Marquez, after receiving a drubbing from Ruslan Provodnikov last year in front of his hometown crowd in Denver, Colorado.
I thought I was going to have to fight another step up fight to prove I could get to a level like this. I was definitely surprised, but Im happy about it. Im blessed. Im going with it and doing the best I can to show I belong on this level.
Alvarado has been a mixed bag as hes moved up the ladder from prospect to contender. He lost a war with Brandon Rios in 2012 in seven rounds before redeeming himself against the same fighter in 2013 by unanimous decision. But in October 2013, Alvarado was shellacked by Provodnikov and suffered a Round 10 TKO loss. Alvarado said he was overconfident against Provodnikov, and that he learned a valuable lesson from the loss. He said he paid too much attention to how Provodnikov fared against a common opponent, Mauricio Herrera.
He fought and lost to one of the same guys I beat. He lost to a guy I destroyed.
Herrera defeated Provodnikov by unanimous decision in January 2011. Alvarado defeated the same fighter by unanimous decision the very next year. Alvarado says he wasnt putting in work in the gym like he should have been in recent fights, and that his approach has changed for Marquez.
In training, Im putting a lot more into it. In my last two fights, I didnt really have as much fire. I didnt really have as much hunger as I do now. It means a lot more to me right now.
Alvarado said his life outside the ring was as good as its been in recent history. He said he now has the humility he needs as a fighter and the support he needs as a man to be successful in the sport he loves. It means a lot more to me right now. At this point in my life and in my career, its just deep. Im motivated. Im going to do all I absolutely can to win the fight.
Regardless of what happens on fight night, Alvarado said hes proud of his effort. He said this was the biggest fight of his career and there was a tinge of angst in his voice that told me he meant it.
This time, at the end of the day, Ill at least know I gave it my all. I did the best I could in training and everything else.
Alvarado said he will attack Marquez with a varied approach, something hes honed as hes moved through his career. I was a pressure fighter before I implemented my boxing tactics. I gained that experience to approach this kind of fight.
Alvarado said a win over Marquez would be the biggest thing to ever happen in his career, and he said he expected to be the bigger, stronger man on fight night. Moreover, he said he was glad to have the opportunity to retire a Mexican legend like Marquez, who is age 40, but still one of the elite fighters in the game.
Well see what happens. Im just excited to be in there. Preparation is going good. Im ready to put it to the test.
Mike Alvarado will face Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday, May 17, at the Forum in Inglewood, California. The bout will air live on HBO beginning at 10:15 p.m. ET. Kelsey McCarson contributes regularly to The Sweet Science, Boxing Channel and Bleacher Report.