To Brawl or Not To Brawl: The Peril of Mike Alvarado


There has been some solid boxing over the last few weeks with some major names in action and the schedule is still solid heading towards the end of 2013. I hate when people say “It’s a great time to be a boxing fan” because boxing is the anti-conformist’s sport and if you understand the poetic nature of boxing and its correlation to the human experience then every day is a “great day to be a boxing fan.”

That said, this Saturday will really be a great day to be a boxing fan as Colorado native Mike Alvarado will look to keep the momentum of his last victory over Brandon Rios rolling against the always gritty Ruslan Provodnikov.

Most people assume this is a sure-fire, can’t miss type fight that will produce plenty of fireworks. I contend that this matchup has a higher probability rate of action and it stands to reason that this fight should be viewed as distinctively special. However, I’m not fully convinced.

It’s true we’ve seen both Alvarado and Provodnikov turn out hardnosed performances in the past, specifically in each of their last outings. Both men have been in 2013 candidates for “Fight of the Year” so it makes sense that they duplicate those results with one another. Yet, I can’t help but feel Alvarado can and will fight a smarter fight this time around, and a smarter fight will translate into a safer fight.

I think Alvarado has had his fix of “blood, sweat and tears” type of affairs and if he proved one thing in his last fight against Rios it was that he has some underrated boxing skills. Alvarado is no technician, but he has demonstrated the kind of tools that makes me believe he can handle a less than superior boxer in Provodnikov.

Plus, Alvarado is coming off of a career defining win over Rios and I think he likes the taste of it, knowing he’s closer than ever to a legitimate payday. If Alvarado was smart, he’d forgo the macho head games and refrain from getting into a shootout, even if the fans are less than thrilled with that game plan.

Marquez, Bradley, and Pacquiao all seem like realistic fights for Alvarado should he come away with the victory on Saturday night. While the rubber match with Rios is lucrative regardless of the win column, it would suit Alvarado nicely if he can do his part and sit back to make sure that Rios does his against Pacquiao. Even though a 3rd fight will equal to a big payday, if both Alvarado and Rios are victorious in their upcoming bouts then the stakes will raise nicely should they decide fight each other in early 2014. And raised stakes would most likely translate into even bigger paydays with more to gain from a career standpoint.

But let me throw a monkey wrench into the equation, actually let me be downright hypocritical for a second. I said it would be smart to come into Saturday’s fight with an intelligent game plan and execute it without letting the crowd’s distain factor in, but here is another direction Alvarado could take.

Just bang! Give the fans exactly what they want and exchange with the dangerous Provodnikov in hopes of producing a classic because this is the only way that Alvarado can keep any upside he has with Top Rank and HBO. As it stands, the only allure associated with Alvarado is his ability to be entertaining and there are few things that HBO and Top Rank enjoy more than promotional highlight reels.

Alvarado must continue to do the things that have gotten him to this point because fighters will look for every reason not to fight this man based on the risk-reward factor. Alvarado must put the network and the promotion in a position to campaign for him and lobby for the bigger fights.

I know this isn’t fair, but some men can only fight injustice by remaining just in their cause. We’ve seen HBO get behind Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev in hopes that they fight one another in 2014. They are petitioning for these two light heavyweights because they have consistently produced entertaining bouts, more importantly entertaining outcomes. As long as they keep knocking people out, they’ll have a home at HBO.

Alvarado will have to sacrifice his strategic capabilities in exchange for a display of intestinal fortitude. This is the only way Alvarado can hope to keep a ball in his court. If he can stay the most exciting fighter out there then he can have some negotiating chips on his side of the table when HBO reloads on theirs in 2014.