Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Mike Alvarado: Preview, Prediction for Welterweight Bout

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2014

Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Mike Alvarado: Preview, Prediction for Welterweight Bout

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    Saturday night in Inglewood, California, Mexican boxing legend Juan Manuel Marquez returns to the ring for the first time since losing by split decision to Timothy Bradley last October. At 40, he will resume his quest to be the first five-division world champion ever from Mexico.

    His opponent will be tough veteran and former junior welterweight world champion Mike Alvarado. He is also returning to action after a loss last October. But his defeat was far more brutal, as he went down to Ruslan Provodnikov by brutal Round 10 TKO.

    Marquez will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. It's an event every time he enters the ring. Alvarado is a tough, action fighter who stands to get a major bump to his career if he can bring the legend down.

Tale of the Tape

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    Per Boxrec     Juan Manuel Marquez     Mike Alvarado
    Record:     55-7-1, 40 KOs     34-2, 23 KOs
    Height:     5'7"     5'9"
    Reach:     67"     69.5"
    Weight:     147 lbs     147 lbs
    Age:     40     33
    Stance:     Orthodox     Orthodox
    Hometown:     Mexico City, Distrito Federal     Denver, Colorado
    Rounds:     474     192

    Mike Alvarado will be one of the tallest and longest fighters that Juan Manuel Marquez has faced. Although this is Alvarado's first fight at welterweight, he's the naturally larger man. He had to grind to make 140, and Marquez was a world champion early in his career all the way down at 126.

    Both of these guys hit with authority and have a history of ending a pretty good percentage of their fights.

    They are both experienced veterans, although Marquez has a distinct edge here. With nearly 500 professional rounds, he's been fighting as a professional since the last century.

Main Storylines

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    Juan Manuel Marquez is arguably the greatest Mexican fighter of all time. The four-division world champion also holds the distinction of being Manny Pacquiao's toughest opponent.

    Their four-fight series has been the greatest rivalry of this century. In 2003, Marquez came back from three first-round knockdowns to earn a draw against Pacquiao. The Filipino won their second and third fights, in 2008 and 2011, by hotly disputed split and majority decisions.

    Marquez earned revenge in decisive fashion in December 2012, catching Pacquiao with one of the great counter rights in the history of the sport and putting the superstar to sleep in Round 6.

    In his most recent fight, Marquez lost by split decision in a bid to earn a world title in a fifth division against Timothy Bradley last October.

    Mike Alvarado has been far less celebrated in his own career, but the Denver native is an exciting, action fighter. In 2012 and 2013, he engaged in one of the best two-fight series of recent years with Brandon Rios. Alvarado lost by Round 7 TKO in a thriller in 2012 before coming back strong to win by unanimous decision in March 2013.

    Last October, he dropped the WBO light welterweight title to Ruslan Provodnikov, when the Siberian pounded him en route to a Round 10 TKO. Alvarado came into the weigh-in for that bout looking like he'd escaped a death march, so perhaps 147 will be a healthier weight for him.

    He has the opportunity to make history and ignite his career in his first bout at welterweight.

Strengths

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    Juan Manuel Marquez is one of the great pound-for-pound boxers of his generation. He's a well-rounded fighter.

    His greatest strength is his aggressive counterpunching. His ability to shift from defensive posture to explosive, fight-ending offense has yielded him a KO percentage higher than his great rival, Manny Pacquiao.

    Marquez is also among the sport's most resilient fighters. He's never been stopped and has come back from hard knockdowns on multiple occasions to win fights.

    Mike Alvarado is a tough, durable fighter. His conditioning is top-notch. He has tremendous heart and enough punching power to be dangerous.

    He has solid boxing skills. After coming up short in a brawl in his first fight with Brandon Rios, he made smart adjustments and won the rematch by a clear margin.

Weaknesses

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    Juan Manuel Marquez has not shown any clear signs of aging, but he is 40, and that is traditionally ancient for an elite fighter. He's looked very solid as a welterweight, but it is 20 pounds above where he started his career.

    In more recent years, he's shown a tendency to become overly aggressive. That cost him against Timothy Bradley and created some rocky moments for him against Manny Pacquiao in the fight he won by KO in December 2012.

    Mike Alvarado has won a lot of fights in his career simply by being the tougher guy. He has traditionally been willing to come forward and risk getting hit to let go with his own shots.

    Against an elite counterpuncher, that could be disastrous. Alvarado has been stopped in two of his three last fights and got pounded by Ruslan Provodnikov last October. He's the younger man here, but being 33 does not make him a kid in prizefighting.

Juan Manuel Marquez Will Win If...

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    I have a hard time seeing Juan Manuel Marquez losing this fight unless he has deteriorated considerably since last October, when he dropped a split decision to Timothy Bradley.

    I thought Marquez deserved to lose that fight, but he won rounds and made it very close. And Bradley is a far more talented fighter than Mike Alvarado.

    Against Alvarado, Marquez will need to avoid getting overly aggressive, trying to push the pace and making things happen. If Alvarado can camp behind his jab and exploit his reach advantage, Marquez will need to be intelligent about moving into range.

    But he should have the footwork and timing to slip Alvarado's jab and come inside with a big right-hand counter.

    If Marquez can avoid making dumb mistakes or getting worn down by the younger man, this should be a challenging but relatively routine win for him on the road back to bigger fights.

Mike Alvarado Will Win If...

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    Mike Alvarado showed some decent boxing skills in his win over Brandon Rios in March 2013. He was able to control the distance and angles to outbox a guy who had beaten him in the previous slugfest.

    He is not going to outbox Juan Manuel Marquez. But he will to need to use some ring intelligence to have any hope of winning.

    He needs to take advantage of his reach and use the jab and footwork to keep Marquez on the outside and unable to counter. Alvarado has to stay cool and give himself room to anticipate when Marquez chooses to get aggressive, so he can catch the Mexican superstar coming in.

    Alvarado is the younger and bigger man, so he should welcome the fight turning into an ugly brawl. But he needs to be tactical about it when he tries to make that happen.

Prediction

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    There are few guarantees in boxing, especially for a 40-year-old fighter. But I think Juan Manuel Marquez sees a lot of holes he can exploit in Mike Alvarado's style, and I don't believe the Mexican legend has deteriorated enough at this point to have trouble finding those holes once the action is underway.

    Alvarado has legitimate talent as a boxer-brawler. But the difference in skill and ability should be too great for him to overcome here. Marquez is 40, but he is an extremely well-maintained 40.

    The American might have some success in making it a scrap in the early rounds, but by the middle of the fight, Marquez should have things under control. I think his performance will be workmanlike, and he will not press hard for the stoppage.

    I pick Marquez to win nine rounds. If Alvarado presses hard and sells out aggressively as he falls behind, we could see a late stoppage for Marquez.

    The interesting thing will be to see where he goes from here. But ultimately, his course of action is predictable. 

    Unless the shocking happens and Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather finally gets made for this fall, expect to see Pacquiao vs. Marquez V happen late in the year.