At 40 years old, "Dinamita" Juan Manuel Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KO) believes he still has what it takes to compete at a world-class level. On Saturday, May 17, "Mile High" Mike Alvarado (34-2, 23 KO) will make him prove it.
The two men will face off at The Forum in Inglewood, California for the right to face Manny Pacquiao, and a shot at the WBO welterweight title.
You might be thinking: "oh no, not another Pacquiao-Marquez scrap." Some might be thinking: "oh yes, another Pacquiao-Marquez scrap." Either way, if Marquez can beat Alvarado, it looks like that's what the boxing community is going to get.
Alvarado will definitely have something to say about it. And he has his own motivations to come up big.
Alvarado has a chance to position himself for a huge payday against Pacquiao. It would be a shot at knocking two living legends in a row.
Here's how you can watch the action:
When: Saturday, May 17 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: The Forum in Inglewood, California
Live Stream: Livesport.TV (Region Restrictions)
The Book on Marquez
After scoring one of the biggest KO wins in the sport over the last 15 years over Pacquiao in 2012, Marquez was out-boxed by Timothy Bradley in Oct. 2013.
With Dinamita, it's pretty simple. If you stand and trade with him, you're putting yourself in danger. He's one of the best counterpunchers in the sport's history. He possesses a granite chin, an iron will and a high-level in-ring I.Q.
After having fought and won so many big fights in his career, what keeps Marquez coming back—besides the money?
Per Sean Crose of Boxing Insider, Marquez wants to make history. Marquez said: "we all want the fifth title."
The "we" he speaks of is great Mexican fighters. The fifth title is a reference to individual championships in separate weight classes.
In the great tradition of Mexican fighters, not one has ever won titles in five different weight classes. If Marquez can obtain a title at 140 pounds, he will have accomplished that feat.
Beating Alvarado would put him on the doorstep. Perhaps a fight with WBO champ—and former Pacquiao sparring partner—Ruslan Provodnikov would be in order.
However, there is that deal to face you know who for a fifth time.
All of that will be sorted out if the Marquez wins, but that's far from a foregone conclusion.
The Book on Alvarado
Alvarado's big win over Brandon Rios in a rematch of their epic first meeting did a lot for his popularity. He briefly held the interim WBO light welterweight title, but he was thrashed by Provodnikov in Oct. 2013.
If Alvarado wants to be considered one of the premier fighters at 140 pounds, and not just a tough guy grouped in the same category as Rios, he needs to beat Marquez.
To a degree, Alvarado made his name with a brawling style. But he knows that's not the formula for success against Dinamita.
Alvarado told Lem Satterfield of The Ring Magazine:
I can't be giving in when he's going to war and wanting to trade punches. I can't be giving in to that. I have to fight my fight and at my pace and my style of fighting. I just have to fight the way that I know how to fight and to make the right adjustments.
Game plans are great, but if it went by the wayside, it wouldn't be the first time. Marquez has a way of drawing fighters into his style. That's especially the case if there isn't a major speed advantage.
If that happens, can Alvarado still gut out a win against a future Hall of Famer?
I caught up with Matthew Podgorski of the Pod Index to discuss Marquez and Alvarado's fight statistics over their last five fights.
The Pod Index tracks fighter statistics, tendencies and judges' data.
According to Podgorski:
Alvarado has just a slight edge in work-rate (53-51). While Marquez has a slight edge in power punches landed (56-54). However, in terms of winning rounds, when strength of opposition is considered, Marquez wins 60 percent of the rounds he's fought, while Alvarado wins just 33 percent of rounds on the judges’ cards.
This is significant—if you think the fight will go the distance—which I happen to believe it will.
Marquez is a big-time puncher, but Alvarado has an excellent chin. Provodnikov did stop him, but it was more from an accumulation of hard, punishing shots and pressure.
Marquez doesn't exactly fight that way.
Alvarado won't have to look for him, but Dinamita doesn't stalk the way Provodnikov does. The question in this fight is: Will Alvarado be quick enough to stick and move, and pick his times to exchange?
I say no.
Fighters with a surplus of quickness, like Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Bradley were able to do this because their speed advantage over Dinamita was significant.
I don't see Alvarado enjoying that same edge. He's going to get pulled into a firefight, and when that happens, he won't be able to outslug Marquez.
It probably won't end in a KO or TKO, but Marquez will win a fairly clear unanimous decision based on more clean, accurate punching.
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