Mike Alvarado: Former Champ Taking All the Right Steps to Again Be a Contender
I remember it like it was yesterday.
Sitting in the fourth row of the First Bank Center in Broomfield, Colo. in 2015 watching Brandon Rios punch right through former junior welterweight champion Mike Alvarado en route to a 3rd round stoppage victory.
I stood afterwards wondering if it was possible for Alvarado to rebound from high profile losses and issues outside the ring to have a rebirth in his career. Those in the crowd who booed their hometown champion were doing their best to answer my question.
Three years later, he’s well on his way to a successful comeback, and he just might be a dark horse in the loaded 140 and 147-pound divisions.
“It was great to be on this stage again. I felt really comfortable in there with my reconstructed team. I did it again. I’m back. I’m ready for the top level again,” Alvarado said in a quote posted on toprank.com after his Oct. 13 victory over Robbie Cannon. “It took me some time to get here, but I’m back.”
In a sport where actions certainly speak louder than words, Alvarado’s fists have done all they can to solidify his feelings. Following high profile losses to Ruslan Provodnikov, Juan Manuel Marquez, and a rubber match defeat to Brandon Rios — one that looked career ending — Alvarado has dominated opponents in six straight victories, and has had one of his knockout victories featured on SportsCenter.
Yes, his victories have been against limited opposition. However, Alvarado has been in his fair share of wars in the ring and had certain issues outside of it. Despite being a former champion, he needed time to regroup, reassess his situation, and begin rebuilding his career. He could’ve given up on boxing and quit when things became difficult, but he didn’t. In a literal definition of the word fighter, Alvarado has refocused on his career, and has had the patience to take things slowly while crawling back into contention.
He’s probably not quite ready for the top of the welterweight or junior welterweight divisions yet.
Promotional hinderances notwithstanding, I could see his next few bouts against the likes of Devon Alexander or Andre Berto.
There are questions that need to be answered about his durability after the punishment he took in a slugfest with Provodnikov and three fights against Rios. Wins against durable contenders like Alexander and Berto would go a long way in preparing him for another shot at a title.
When his opportunity does come, Alvarado will have one distinct advantage; experience. He’s been to the top and he’s seen the bottom as well. Determined and self-aware, he didn’t give up or make excuses and he’s been positioning himself for a second chance to prove just how good he can be.
In a sports world littered with examples of individuals who lose focus or lose drive when things get tough, Alvarado has worked to be the opposite. Is he perfect? Nobody is. But his willingness to restart his career by working from the bottom up speaks volumes about his passion for the sport he loves.
He’s shown the heart of a champion, which is a quality that extends far beyond world titles and pound-for-pound rankings.