By Miguel Maravilla
Photos: Big Joe Miranda
Boxing is back at the historic Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, California as four-division world champion Juan Manuel “Dinamita” Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) of Mexico, City is set to take on former WBO junior welterweight champion Mike “Mile High” Alvarado (34-2, 23 KOs) on May 17 live on HBO World Championship Boxing.
Marquez-Alvarado marks the return of boxing to the Forum, which hosted many great fights throughout the years. Some of the most memorable fights included unbeaten Mexican bantamweights Carlos Zarate vs. Alfonso Zamora, the rematch between Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton, Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Roger Mayweather 2, Chiquita Gonzalez vs. Michael Carbajal 2, Rafael Ruelas vs. Freddie Pendleton which was on the Gonzalez Carbajal undercard, and the birth of HBO Boxing After Dark when “The Baby Face Assassin” Marco Antonio Barrera stopped Kennedy McKinney in a memorable fight.
“There wouldn’t have been a Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, or Chiquita Gonzalez without Forum Boxing,” Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum said. Arum co-promoted Ali-Norton 2 at the Forum back in 1973 and he shared his memories with us about the legendary venue Wednesday afternoon.
“After many, many, years we are back at the Forum. Boxing has been integral part of the Fabulous Forum. I remember as a young man in 1973 promoting the great Muhammad Ali against Ken Norton, a fight I co-promoted with Jack Kent Cooke,” Arum told Fightnews.com “I can recall how many great fighters were developed by Forum Boxing thanks to Jerry Buss (owner), John Jackson (promoter), and Tony Curtis (matchmaker). Forum Boxing did a wonderful job for the sport of boxing and particularly with the development of Mexican fighters,” Arum added.
This fight pits both fighters that are coming off tough loses, stylistically it matches up to be a potential fight of the year candidate in a venue with a rich boxing history and tradition.
“The history here for us to come back to this building and present a match like Juan Manuel Marquez and Mike Alvarado, it’s truly something special. It’s the start of big things here,” Arum said.
“It’s a great fight for me. Tt’s a difficult fight but it’s an interesting one and entertaining for the fans,” Juan Manuel Marquez told Fightnews.com “Mike Alvarado has that strong style. I have a tough fight May 17. He is a strong fighter that likes to fight. He has been in some tough fights. He can take a punch and give a punch,” Marquez said about Alvarado.
“It’s cool, exciting, I can’t even say the words on what it’s going to be like the night of the fight. It’s a legendary type of deal here, fighting somewhere that is like his backyard. They haven’t had fights here in a long time. Opening up to the boxing world, it’s huge. It means a lot. I’ll be ready for that night,” Alvarado said. “He’s a good, intelligent, tough fighter. I can’t take anything away from him. I just have to exploit all his weaknesses out of him to make him go.”
Alvarado is coming off a brutal tenth round TKO loss to Ruslan Provodnikov in his hometown of Denver last October. Prior to that fight he was coming off two wars with Brandon Rios, decision win in a tough fight last April and suffered a sixth round stoppage in the 2012 Fight of the Year.
“I feel good. I’m fine. They have been tough fights, they are life-ending type fights, but I feel good still. I started in this game late when I was 20 years old. I have worked hard my whole life and been healthy my whole life,” Alvarado said.
Mile High recently had some issues outside the ring in the Mile High city of Denver as he was accused of driving an SUV into a lake earlier this year. Alvarado will be away from home and distractions for this training camp setting his camp in Los Angeles with his team manager Henry Delgado, trainer Shane Vilhauer along with Rudy Hernandez as he looks to dethrone the Mexican icon.
“I am out here in LA now. I wanted to get away. I kind of let my city get to me and let everybody get to me. I had to get away and seclude myself,” Alvarado said about his issues. “All my issues are aside now. Everything is good now. I’m at peace with myself. I don’t have nothing on my mind on what I need to worry about. Everything is to focus on this fight, eat and sleep, everything Marquez.”
Not only will boxing make its return, for Marquez this will also mark his return to the Forum, the venue that made him as he fought here in the early part of his career. Marquez scored a first round TKO over Martin Ochoa back in 1995 in his first fight at Forum under the promotional banner of Forum Boxing from 1995 to 1999 compiling a record of 12-0, with 9 knockouts.
“It’s a joy to return to the place that watched me grow. I feel good like when I was 23 years old when I first began to fight here,” Marquez said on returning to the building. “I had 12 fights here and won them all. Why not win that 13th fight?”
Marquez loss a split decision in his last fight to unbeaten WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley, as he was coming off the biggest win of his career, a sixth round knockout of Manny Pacquiao. The Mexican icon looks to bounce back against the always tough Mile High Alvarado.
“It was a close fight. To win a fight you have to come forward or back and punch. He didn’t do any of that. I don’t know what fight the judges were watching. Many people saw me win, many people didn’t. I respect everyone’s opinion but we felt good and convinced that we won,” Marquez said about his last fight.
The four division world champion Marquez is also looking to win his fifth world title in five weight divisions but first he will have to get past Alvarado.
“This is interesting because he wants to get back on the winning track and I want to win to try to win that fifth world title. That’s what makes it interesting. It’s important for me and him,” Marquez said.
Marquez vs. Alvarado will be a scheduled 12 round WBO welterweight title eliminator as the winner of the fight will take on the winner between Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley.
“Expect explosiveness a good, strong, ready to go, dedicated, and determined Mike Alvarado,” Mike Alvarado promised.
“The most important thing for me is May 17. Mike Alvarado, let’s not overlook him. I am looking for a victory. It’s an interesting fight for both Bradley and Pacquiao, but the winner will be the fans. Pacquiao wants to win to regain and Bradley wants to defend,” Marquez said. “It will be a great fight May 17. Many people will see this fight with my style and his style. These styles make good fights. To return to the Forum of Inglewood that is what motivates me to give a great fight!”
Follow me on Twitter @MigMaravilla