When veteran star Juan Manuel Marquez (55-8-1, 40 KOs) steps into the ring against journeyman boxer Mike Alvarado (35-2-0, 24 KOs) on Saturday night, the two men will be fighting for the same prize.
Each fighter is battling to become the mandatory challenger for the WBO welterweight title. The belt is currently held by Manny Pacquiao.
While both men are hunting for the same goal, each has travelled a very different route to get this far and don’t want a loss to derail their legacies. Here are the top storylines heading into Saturday’s main event.
Marquez is Looking For a Championship
There are few fighters in the sport with as much talent and experience as Marquez, but at 40 years old, there is not much left for the veteran to accomplish.
One achievement Marquez has never earned is a welterweight championship, and he spoke to Bob Velin of USA Today about his desire to add that notch to his belt before he hangs up his gloves for good:
I want to make history by winning another world title. It's something that's never been done. That is what I am looking forward to towards the end of my career, to win that next world title. ... That's what makes us keep going.
Not only would Marquez earn a shot at the title with a victory over Alvarado, but it would also come against a legend and long-time foe like Pacquiao. With these two men squaring off four previous times (Marquez is 1-2-1 in those fights), the fifth bout would be another chapter in the storied rivalry.
While many fans will be looking for both veterans to take on younger challengers, the potential title match between Marquez and Pacquiao would be the biggest possible pay-per-view draw if Floyd Mayweather passes both men up.
Alvarado is Hungry
There are few casual boxing fans who know much about Mike Alvarado, but he is one of the most talented boxers perennially on the cusp of championship contention. While Alvarado has struggled with his consistency, he has the power and speed to hurt anyone.
If Marquez underestimates a newly refocused Alvarado and looks ahead to the rematch with Pacquiao, the 40-year-old veteran will find himself on the losing end of the battle.
Alvarado told Kelsey McCarson of Bleacher Report about his drive and hunger for this fight:
In my last two fights, I didn’t really have as much fire. I didn’t really have as much hunger as I do now. It means a lot more to me right now. ... This is just a huge opportunity for my life. It’s a big step for me. I want it. I want it bad. I’m just more hungry for it. I don’t have any distractions. I’m completely clear on what I need to do and what I want to do.
After starting his career with 33 straight victories, Alvarado lost a devastating matchup against Brandon Rios in which he lost by TKO in the seventh round. Like a true fighter, Alvarado bounced back and beat Rios via decision in his very next fight.
Despite regaining some momentum, Alvarado lost once again in October of 2013 against Ruslan Provodnikov. With that defeat fresh in his mind, the American fighter will look to avenge his previous loss and cement a chance to make history.
Beating Marquez would be the first step to glory.
Prediction: Alvarado via split decision
*Stats via BoxRec.com.