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Alvarado Goes Camping

(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)
(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)


For the past couple of months, only Mike Alvarado, Shann Vilhauer, Henry Delgado, Manuel Lopez and Gabe Alvarado were in a house in the quiet Southern California suburb of Glendora. As you walk into this home, you see an inflatable mattress laid down near the dining area. Yeah, the quarters are cramped but this was everything they needed as “Mile High” Mike prepared for this weekend’s bout versus Juan Manuel Marquez at The Forum.
 
Most of all, it wasn’t Denver.
 
Alvarado seemingly has a way of inviting trouble when he’s home. You hear stories of him getting into bar fights, clubs he’s barred from and most recently, an SUV dumped in a lake that was registered to him. It isn’t always home sweet home for the rugged boxer from the 303.

“It’s not,” he admitted a few weeks back after his day’s work at a nearby youth center in Duarte, “especially when you allow the distractions to get to you and stuff like that. It kinda ruins some of the moments you have.”
 
Yes, for Alvarado, the “D” in “Denver” stands for “distractions.”
 
“Capital ‘D,’” points out his manager, Henry Delgado with a laugh.
 
But it wasn’t so humorous when Alvarado was beaten into submission last October near his hometown by the unforgiving Ruslan Provodnikov. Perhaps Delgado could’ve gotten away with the type of training camp he had for other fighters but the hard-hitting “Siberian Rocky” isn’t the type to face when you’ve not had the most arduous of camps. He’s the type who will expose any lack of conditioning or focus.
 
Alvarado reflects on that night by saying, “It was a good show, a good turnout. I was happy for all the support that I got but the loss was the hard part about it. Being able to bring that kind of a show home and then lose in front of the hometown, it was painful but I put it behind me. I was beating myself up there a little bit. I’ve moved onto bigger and better things still. I’m glad. I’m a showcase-type of fighter; people like to see Mike Alvarado in that ring.”
 
What is most frustrating for his handlers is they had an ominous feeling beforehand about their fate against Provodnikov before they ever stepped in the ring. Many fights have been won and lost in training camp. “I did have that feeling,” admitted Vilhauer, who pointed out that with the magnitude of that event (the biggest card in that region since the heyday of Stevie Johnston), they were at the point of no return. “I mean, we’re not going to cancel the damn fight. Too much stuff is involved and to just cancel and say, ‘Oh, he’s got a finger injury,’ we’re past that level of doing stuff like that. You can’t do stuff like that. It was a very helpless feeling.”
 
As this fight was consummated, the decision was made for Alvarado to head out west once again. Bottom line is this was a necessary move.
 
“It is,” agreed Alvarado, who could earn a shot at Manny Pacquiao in November with a victory on Saturday night. “That wasn’t the real Mike Alvarado. Now that I was able to get away, get my mindset a little better and focus on what I really need to focus on - which is me - soul search just a little more for these bigger fights for the level that I’m on. If I want to make a mark on this game, be more than just good rather than good. Now is the perfect opportunity to showcase myself. I’m ready for it.”
 
He says of this training camp, “This one is a little bit more deep in focus. I’m away; I’m far away from home. I mean, not too far but it’s a good camp so far, so my mindset’s a lot different than it was for the Provodnikov fight. It’s deeper; I have a deeper feeling. I have my heart into this one, so it’s just more of a deeper focus. I’m more hungry for this fight. I wasn’t as hungry for the Provodnikov fight. This fight means a lot more to me.”
 
But getting Alvarado away from Denver is easier said than done. He admits to getting homesick. “It comes and it goes sometimes,” he says. “When you walk into that ring, I just brush it off. I think of the prize. I got my mindset right, so I’m focused. I know all my people at home are my main supporters. They want this; they want the best for me, so either way, when I go home, they’re still going to be there.”
 
This time around, his brother, Gabe was part of the training camp. “I’m a big slice of Denver for him,” he said. “I’m his little brother, so me being here, it makes me feel more like home. That’s my older brother. He’s all I got; I’m all he’s got. So being here in camp with him, it’s a blessing because I experience every step that he goes through and I get to motivate him. I’m there mentally for him. It’s going to be something totally different.”
 
And if he weren’t there?
 
“If I wasn’t here...”
 
“It wouldn’t be as fun,” interrupted Vilhauer, drawing a laugh from both men.
 
“Yeah, it wouldn’t be as fun. On the real to real, he’d probably be bored. I level the whole place out. I’m the first one up; I’m there. I’m the life of the party. So me being here, it’s an inspiration to my brother because we feed off each other,” he continued.
 
Not only is a possible Pacquiao fight on the line but win, lose or draw, how Alvarado performs versus the Mexican legend will determine if he continues to earn six-figure paydays or is relegated to UniMas in the near future. So perhaps it’s a small price to pay to leave his most comfortable - if tumultuous - surroundings in the weeks and months leading into his fights. “We got good training this time, good intensity and no distractions. That’s the key: the lack of distractions,” explained Delgado, who, in the past, has been frustrated by his fighter’s unwillingness to pack his bags.
 
But will all this matter? Like with Chris Arreola, who recently got stopped by Bermane Stiverne after an intensive training camp away from home, can a couple of months of monastic dedication and focus overcome the erosion of years of hard living? In addition, Alvarado has been through an absolute gauntlet recently with back-and-forth battles against Breidis Prescott, Mauricio Herrera, Brandon Rios (twice) and Provodnikov. At age 33, Marquez and his camp could be of the belief that they are facing a faded fighter, who simply isn’t the same.
 
“I totally believe that’s how we got the fight,” said Vilhauer, bluntly. “They think Mike is done as a fighter and he’s far from from being done.”
 
Youth is on their side given Marquez is now 40.
 
“Youth, size, strength, everything’s on our side,” said a confident Vilhauer, who adds, “I know everyone keeps saying [Marquez]’s better; he’s a master technician. I’m not buying into all that. As a featherweight, he was a very good boxer before but that was many, many years ago.”
 
“I’m just ready to put on a better show. I want to show the real me. I had to get away and I had to find myself, soul search and do what I had to do to be better,” said Alvarado, 34-2 (23). And if he should come out victorious, is he willing to head out to camp away from Denver again?
 
“That would be my wish,” stated Delgado, “but y’know, ultimately it’s what he wants to do.”
 
Alvarado claims, “I’m willing to; this is going to be a huge step for me. Redemption’s always been huge for me and after this fight, we win this fight, I’m only going to be better. I’m still only getting better. I’m done beating myself up. The only person that can beat me - is me. So I’m done fighting against myself.”
 
FRIDAY FLURRIES
 
 
According to Carl Moretti of Top Rank, a middleweight contest between Matt Korobov and Jose Uzcategui will open up the June 28th HBO telecast in Omaha, Nebraska...The weigh-in for Marquez-Alvarado will be at 2 p.m. at The Forum Concourse...Delvin Rodriguez and Joachim Alcine headline this week’s edition of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” from Montreal’s Olympic Stadium (yes, where Tim Raines and Andre Dawson used to roam)...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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