By Jake Donovan
Juan Manuel Marquez was 30 years old and a year into his first title reign – at featherweight – by the time Mike Alvarado turned pro in 2004.
Some ten years later, both fighters are at a similar point in their career – in need of a win – yet it’s the aged veteran who carries the greater upside while Alvarado fights for his boxing life when the two collide this weekend at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
The bout takes weight at a maximum catchweight of 144 lb., and airs live on HBO’s World Championship Boxing series (Saturday 10:15PM ET/7:15PM PT and local time). Both fighters easily made weight for the contest: Marquez – a former champ at 126, 130, 135 and 140 – hit the scales at a ripped and ready 141.6 lb., while Alvarado came in at 143.2 lb., looking more replenished and defined than has been the case in past fights where he was forced to shrink down to the 140 lb. limit.
Both fighters are coming off of a loss, with those fights having taken place one week apart last October. Marquez (55-7-1, 40KO) dropped a close-but-clear decision to Timothy Bradley in his failed bid to become Mexico’s first ever fighter to win titles in five weight classes.
Getting to that point meant giving up the 140 lb. title he won (was given?) some 18 months prior, with a points win over Sergey Fedchenko, going from interim to full titlist without ever having to defend the belt. By vacating the title, Alvarado (34-2, 23KO) – who claimed the interim version with a rematch win over Brandon Rios last March – was granted full title status heading into showdown versus Ruslan Provodnikov in Broomfield, Colorado, mere miles from his Thornton (CO) hometown.
In one fell swoop, his title reign ended and homecoming violently crashed and burned. Alvarado fared well early before falling apart late en route to a 10th round stoppage loss.
It wasn’t so much the loss that raised concern, but the manner in which he was defeated. For the second time in just over a year, the 33-year old absorbed a tremendous amount of punishment in what ultimately became losing efforts. One year prior, Alvarado was stopping inside of seven rounds in his first fight with Rios, before mixing in more boxing into his arsenal for their rematch last March.
Still, with two vicious stoppage losses in his past three fights coupled with past conflicts outside the ring, it remains in question whether or not Alvarado can return to within reach of the elite level.
Marquez manages to turn away Father Time deep into the twilight of his career, enough to where he’s still in a position to make history. The winner of this weekend’s bout becomes the mandatory challenge for the welterweight title currently held by Manny Pacquiao, who reentered the title fray with a win over Bradley this past April.
A win by Marquez would renew a rivalry that began 10 years ago. Marquez is 1-2-1 in the series, though his lone official win is the only clear cut fight of their four-pack, when he knocked Pacquiao out cold in the 6th round of their epic fourth fight in Dec. ’12.
Their last two fights have taken place within welterweight limits, where Marquez is 1-3 lifetime, having lost to Pacquiao (3rd fight), Bradley and Floyd Mayweather at the weight.
Alvarado hovered above the 140 lb. limit for most of the early years in his career, but hasn’t fought above the super lightweight limit since 2010. Saturday’s bout marks his first against a true welterweight contender.
Does “old man” Marquez still have enough in him for at least one last great performance? Or will Alvarado, the perceived declining fighter, prove that he has plenty more to offer the sport?
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes tonight’s welterweight fight goes down.
BOXINGSCENE.COM PREDICTIONS: JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ vs. MIKE ALVARADO
“I like Marquez to outpoint Alvarado.”
- Damien Acevedo (Marquez by decision)
“I'm picking Juan Manuel Marquez via decision. He's one of the best counter punchers of all-time and he's back where it all started at the Fabulous Forum where is 12-0 with 9 KOs. Also, I think Alvarado took too much of a beating in his last fight against Provodnikov.”
- Carlos Arias (Marquez by decision)
“Whilst I think the end is nearer than ever for the career of Juan Manuel Marquez, I don't think that Mike Alvarado is the man to shut the door on it. This is a bout that Marquez could win without having to hit top gear and has more than enough to negate what Alvarado has to offer. It will be competitive in bursts but I think Marquez will be too clever and too strong on the night.”
- Shaun Brown (Marquez by TKO10)
"I think that with the good training camp that Alvarado had, he is going to surprise a lot of people and some will feel he did enough to win the fight. I think Marquez will go down early but steady himself to win a 114-113, 115-112 type fight but Alvarado will convince one judge that he should get the win with his work rate.”
- Ryan Burton (Marquez by split decision)
“Mike Alvarado will be game and should test Juan Manuel Marquez at times but we're talking about two different classes of fighters here. Even at 40, JMM is a master counter-puncher and a bigger puncher than ever. Marquez should be able to deal with Alvarado's crude style while firing back with even bigger shots. I expect a mismatch in which Marquez doles out a beating and positions himself for yet another bout with Manny Pacquiao.”
- Mike Coppinger (Marquez by TKO)
"I expect this to be a close fight regardless of the outcome but can see Juan Manuel Marquez surging ahead in the second half, slowly picking apart Mike Alvarado and eventually stopping him on cuts.”
- Jake Donovan (Marquez by late TKO)
" Unless Marquez turns 40 overnight, he's got too much for a guy like Alvarado. Too slick when he wants to be; too precise in the midst of a firefight; too experienced (and intermittently successful) against top-shelf guys at 147. Mike seems to be one of those guys destined for the next tier down - admirable and tough and all those things in bunches, but not quite enough to climb to the next rung.”
- Lyle Fitzsimmons (Marquez by decision)
"Mike Alvarado has the kind of style that can give Juan Manuel Marquez problems (see Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis) but can also feed into Juan Manuel Marquez's strengths (see Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis). I don't believe Marquez is done, and I also think Alvarado will be helped by having some additional leeway on the scale and by his career being in better focus. Yet I think Marquez still is of a higher class and will make it through some rough moments en route to a late stoppage.”
- David Greisman (Marquez by late TKO)
"Marquez is seven years older than Alvarado and has fought 63 times as a pro. He still might be the fresher fighter Saturday night. Alvarado has engaged in three straight brutal fights and lost two of those by technical knockout. He’ll own a significant size advantage over Marquez, which makes him dangerous, but he’ll have too much difficulty dealing with Marquez’s counter-punching to out-point the Mexican legend. Alvarado will make enough of a brawl out of this 12-round fight to make it reasonably competitive, but won’t win.”
- Keith Idec (Marquez by decision)
"I am not sure how much "Mighty" Mike has left in the tank. After two wars with Rios and the destruction at the hand of Provo who knows. Alvarado is pressure fight which Marquez responds well too. Expect the 1st 3 rounds to be close until Marquez breaks down Alvarado.”
- Timothy Kudgis (Marquez by TKO7)
“It's easy to write off Mike Alvarado because of Juan Manuel Marquez's supreme boxing skills, but I think the Denver native will make the Mexican star fight in spurts early on. I just feel that Marquez will grow increasingly accurate as the fight goes on, and befitting his age, he'll pick his spots and make it to the finish line convincingly ahead.”
- Ryan Maquiñana (Marquez by decision)
“Maybe it's gonna be a boring fight because counterpuncher style of both fighters, Alvarado has good boxing technique to beat Marquez but not used enough in his fights and tends to go to war what will be their mistake.”
- Giancarlo Oquendo (Marquez by TKO)
“I like Marquez, probably by late stoppage. If it wasn't Mike Alvarado but someone who could box and move and outwork Marquez, this would be a different story. But it's not. Alvarado is there to be hit, and if there's something Marquez can still do, it's punch. It won't be quick and it won't be easy but sooner or later Marquez will start landing his big shots. The ending will come shortly after.”
- Matt Richardson (Marquez by TKO10)
“There's no question who the greater fighter is. It's Marquez. But in Alvarado, he faces the biggest world-class opponent of his career. Size doesn't win fights but it can make a difference in a physical affair. Marquez knows that and it's why there is a catchweight of 144 despite Alvarado technically coming up in weight to him. Alvarado at 144 will be the heaviest he's been since 2010. Marquez has been drawn into multiple wars more frequently since moving above 126. At 40, this is one too many and Alvarado is in a more must-win position. It will probably go late but Alvarado scores the upset.”
- Cliff Rold (Alvarado by late TKO)
“Marquez in this fight against Alvarado should exploit the mistakes of his opponent. Alvarado is a strong fighter, but he takes a lot of punches and against a fighter like Marquez that will be dangerous. I think Juan Manuel Marquez still has the gas to defeat a fighter who lost and won against Rios. In addition, Mike he defeated Prescott over 10 rounds a fight he was losing, and this indicates us that versus a clever and skillful fighter like JMM he will have many problems.”
- Reynaldo Sanchez (Marquez by late TKO)
“I should be picking Alvarado but I'm stubborn and will roll the dice with Marquez one more time. The size difference between the two was pretty alarming at their initial press conference and I think Alvarado's overall size and strength will trouble the smaller Marquez. But even at 40 years old, Marquez is skilled and I think he'll be able to overcome his physical disadvantages. I see a brawl morphing into a boxing match and then back to a brawl in a fun fight with Marquez winning a close decision on the cards.”
- Luis “Juan For the Ages” Sandoval (Marquez by decision)
"Juan Manuel Marquez is often being spoken of as a washed-up, sliding fighter, who he is not. At 40, Marquez did slow down and started to feel his age. But there were no signs of a greater damage to his body and soul in the Bradley fight. The latter can hardly be said about Alvarado, who has taken part in too many tough outings recently. He has barely survived the second Rios fight and he was completely overwhelmed by Provodnikov. In this fight, he will have his chances but it'll be reminiscent of the first Juan Diaz or Michael Katsidis fight, and the Mexican will prevail at the end after some controversy in the earlier rounds.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Marquez by TKO9)
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox