by Cliff Rold
Greater mattered more.
In the pre-fight prediction, the thinking was youth and size could overcome an otherwise better fighter. There was a moment in the ninth, Mike Alvarado dropping Juan Manuel Marquez after being down the round before. The rest of the fight belonged to the future Hall of Famer. One could even have scored the fight 11-0-1, seeing as Marquez won most of the rest of the ninth, and fairly convincingly.
After seeing Alvarado, and before him Brandon Rios, lose decisively to Marquez and Manny Pacquiao respectively, it’s clear that two of the elite talents of their time are still a cut above.
Will they take a fifth cut at each other?
Let’s go the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Alvarado B-; Marquez B/Post: C+; B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Alvarado B+; Marquez B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Alvarado C; Marquez B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Alvarado B+; Marquez A/Post: Same
Some will see Alvarado’s tentative start as evidence of being gun-shy after a series of wars and a brutal loss to the human pit bull that is Ruslan Provodnikov. That may have been true but it was also not a bad strategy. Trying to box and force Marquez to lead is a good idea. It’s where Marquez has always had a weakness.
The problem is, eventually, you have to throw. When it came to that, Marquez was able to throw more, land more, and land better. Alvarado answered with increasing intensity over the second half of the fight but he was already in a hole and his chance to use his size and youth was already ebbed.
Alvarado showed tremendous bottom in getting off the floor in the eighth. He was out on his feet and could have looked for the exits. He didn’t, and made the fight more memorable by digging down and finding a glimmer of hope. His courage can’t be denied.
Neither can Marquez’s enduring quality. He’s one of the best Mexico has ever produced and, at 40, still able to go. Where does he go from here? Despite his stated desire to win a belt in a fifth weight class, his outward projection is still lingering disinterest in a fifth fight with Pacquiao.
Maybe that’s real.
Maybe that’s a posture to get paid better than he ever has before.
Without Pacquiao, it’s hard to see what big fights there are unless he goes back to 140 for Provodnikov. Marquez didn’t seem to want anything to do with the Siberian for what ended up a date with Alvarado but things change. There really aren’t many options for a big fight under the Top Rank umbrella right now.
The payday is Pacquiao.
Time will tell if money talks.
For Alvarado, he loses nothing more than a fight. He’ll remain a crowd favorite and could look for fights with Rios (a third for them) or maybe even Timothy Bradley if he opts to stay at Welterweight. The way he takes shots, Alvarado might not last much longer but he’ll entertain while he does. He’s a tough man and proved it again Saturday night.
Report Card Picks 2014: 23-8
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]