There will be no getting out of the way.
Juan Manuel Marquez simply doesn’t have the reflexes anymore to skirt the salvos of world-class fighters, and Mike Alvarado may be willing to absorb a few shots to see if Marquez has anything left.
Marquez and Alvarado will be meeting for something called a WBO welterweight “eliminator” on Saturday night at the Great Western Forum, in Inglewood, Calif.
In many ways the fight will be just that -- an eliminator, possibly relegating the loser to the fringes of trail horse, while the winner will get a mandatory shot at WBO welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao in the fall.
For the 40-year-old Marquez (55-7-1, 44 knockouts), who’s lost two of his last four, he’ll be fighting more than Alvarado. He’ll also be combating the ravages of age. Fighters get no breaks when it comes to diminished reflexes and lost speed.
There’s nowhere for them to hide. The mind is willing but the body isn’t. Experience and guile can only go so far.
You could see it in Marquez’s eyes each time he engaged Timothy Bradley in his split-decision defeat in October 2013. Marquez lurched his body forward, taking on exchanges he shouldn’t have. His eyes beamed each time he swung at Bradley, a rage there that had as much to do with landing a punch as it did an inner, refrigerated anger why he wasn’t able to summon the strength to react as he had in the past.
He doesn’t want to be viewed as “damaged goods.”
That’s why this fight means so much more to the Mexican legend and future Hall of Famer than it does Alvarado (34-2, 23 KOs).
“I will need to use all of my experience in the ring,” Marquez admitted. “This fight will be a war, because Alvarado wants to fight and this is the kind of fight people want to see. I can’t think [ahead to a Pacquiao rematch]; I have to think about Alvarado right now, because he is a strong fighter.
“I really don’t want to think about Pacquiao right now. I want to think about this fight right now. I want win and make history and go back and do things what has never been done before. We all want to win the fifth title, and that’s what is motivating us now to keep going.”
Marquez said he rested for a month after the loss to Bradley and said he has trained three months for Alvarado. Retirement, and even the hint of losing, is not an option for Marquez.
“Whatever happens Saturday, I’ll go back and take a look and analyze, but in my mind, all I’m thinking about is winning and continuing my career,” Marquez said.
Alvarado will be trying to recover from a brutal loss to Ruslan Provodnikov in his last time out, a 10-round TKO back in October 2013. Provodnikov knocked down Alvarado twice in the eighth round, but he says he feels good and is anxious to take on Marquez.
On top of that, Alvarado is moving up in weight to take on Marquez.
“That fight took more out of me mentally, because it was in my hometown, in front of my people and I’m ready for Marquez and I’m on board,” Alvarado said. “This is a huge opportunity. There is a lot mentally and we’re both coming off losses, and we know what’s next. I know I’ll going to be in with one of the best in the world. I know I have a lot more than everyone saw against Provodnikov. I’m here to redeem myself and put on a better show. This is where I belong and I’m going to show that this weekend.”
Alvarado stressed that he has no problem coming forward against the counter-punching Marquez. He also said that there are no plans in moving a lot. It could be an exciting fight in the crucible of the puncher’s pocket.
“I know I will offer the winner a fight with Manny and it’s up to them to accept it or reject, so that’s where we stand now, but I really believe in what these guys say and the winner will be interested in fighting Manny in the fall,” Top Rank President Bob Arum said. “Manny has agreed to fight the winner. Once we get the terms straightened out, it will be a done deal.”
If Alvarado can somehow duplicate the strategic boxing performance he had in decisioning Brandon Rios in their second fight, in March 2013, he stands a chance against Marquez.
“Style-wise, Marquez will be tailor-made for me,” Alvarado said. “Everyone has been watching Marquez for a long time. We’ll see how much Marquez has left in his career and my job is to exploit every weakness. I’m going to fight smart and fight the way I’m capable of fighting, and stay focused on my gameplan. I can’t give in when he wants to go to war and trade punches.”