by David P. Greisman

Given his style within the ring, it’s no surprise that Mike Alvarado has been hit with a lot of punches. Given his lifestyle outside of the ring, it’s no surprise that Alvarado hit rock bottom on Saturday night.

The previous two battles between Alvarado and Brandon Rios had been wars. Two of the three judges had a tie on their scorecards when Rios took over to win their first fight by seventh-round technical knockout in October 2012. They had an immediate rematch five and a half months later, and this time Alvarado used more movement to buy himself occasional respites from Rios, mixing boxing and brawling well enough to leave with a close decision victory.

Neither had done well since then. Alvarado went on to lose his super lightweight world title in his first defense, an October 2013 homecoming in front of a faithful Colorado crowd that watched Ruslan Provodnikov pressure Alvarado, knock him down twice and break him down until he remained in his corner after the 10th round. He went on to lose a lopsided decision to Juan Manuel Marquez last May.

Rios did little of note in losing wide to Manny Pacquiao in November 2013, then tested positive for a banned substance afterward. He returned last August against the rugged Diego Chaves. Their match quickly deteriorated into a foul-filled fight, and Rios was slightly behind on two of three scorecards when Chaves was disqualified in the ninth round.

Still—despite their recent history apart from each other and because of their history when in together—boxing fans hoped that Alvarado-Rios 3 would be a rubber match like the third fight between junior featherweights Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez, another close and entertaining slugfest between ring rivals and the consensus best fight of that year.

Alvarado-Rios 3 was no Vazquez-Marquez 3. Instead, it more closely resembled Marquez-Vazquez 4.

That unnecessary sequel came two years after their third fight, when both men had gotten time to recover and had faced other opponents in the interim. Vazquez had spent 19 months out of the ring before returning against Angel Priolo. Though Priolo was a naturally lighter man coming off six straight losses, five by knockout, he was still able to hit and mark up and cut Vazquez. Two judges had the bout a draw through eight before Vazquez dispatched Priolo in the ninth.

Marquez had returned earlier that year after a 14-month layoff, making short work of a foe named Jose Francisco Mendoza. He appeared to have much more left to offer. Vazquez, meanwhile, had clear scar tissue above his eyes, the remnant of the three Marquez wars and the many others that had come before. Marquez had little trouble reopening old wounds. Vazquez didn’t last three rounds and never fought again.

Alvarado’s life outside of the ring was similar to the way he fights: lots of offense and lacking a good defense. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s compilation of Alvarado’s criminal record listed 24 arrests between May 2000 and January 2014. His career had been halted before while he was incarcerated, though he stayed out of serious trouble long enough after his release in 2010 to rebuild.

He was about a minute away from losing when he scored a dramatic stoppage over Breidis Prescott in November 2011. He won a highly enjoyable fight with Mauricio Herrera in April 2012. Those wins landed him a shot at Brandon Rios, and his performance in defeat earned him the rematch. He won, picking up an interim belt that later transitioned into him being recognized as a world titleholder.

But his lack of discipline caught up with him. Alvarado didn’t help his cause with subpar preparation for his fight with Provodnikov. He was arrested for being a convicted felon in possession of a gun. He failed to show for court dates. He had open warrants out for his arrest.

He was taken into custody in Nevada last fall and extradited to Colorado, all while the third Rios fight was being negotiated. He again skipped court dates. Then, just three weeks before their bout, he was arrested once again. A 4 a.m. ride as a passenger in his own vehicle—one for which the registration was expired—led to an arrest on those missed court dates, plus the matter of a gun found in the glove box after officers saw something being shoved inside.

Alvarado claimed afterward that the gun belonged to his friend, the driver. It’s fair to be skeptical of that claim. He also said he had gone out late because he was thirsty.

As questionable as that supposed thirst was, the biggest issue proved to be his lack of hunger.

He had lost two in a row. He was going into what was certain to be a hard fight, one in which a win could turn his career around. Yet he continued to get in trouble and continued to sound as if this was something that was happening to him, not something he was doing to himself.

“There have been no distractions. I am used to something always going wrong in camp,” he said before the bout. “When it is going too good and perfect, I know something bad is going to happen because that’s the way it has always been. I have been dealing with adversity my whole life. Adversity has been in my life the whole time, so there are not distractions for this fight.”

He said that it was better for him to train in Colorado instead of California, as the Denver area was where he was comfortable and where his family and children were. Then again, home is also where he continued to run afoul of the law.

He was lying to us—and to himself.

Rios took advantage of Alvarado from the outset. There was no trading; Alvarado largely received. The fight only went three rounds. Undeterred, Rios was credited with landing 120 of 290 punches, a 41 percent connect rate, according to CompuBox. He was 100 of 198 with power shots, hitting Alvarado about half the time.

Those numbers for landed punches in three rounds closely resemble what it took Rios five rounds to do in both the first and second fights.

Alvarado was a paltry 20 of 87 in total on Saturday night, throwing just 29 punches per round, landing about 7. In the previous Alvarado-Rios rematch, he had landed 19 total punches, including 10 power shots, in the first round alone.

The fighter who had been arrested with a firearm had shown up gun-shy.

Rios cut Alvarado above the eye on Saturday with an uppercut, knocked him down and poured on the punishment. Alvarado sounded done in his corner after the third round. While his team wanted the fight to continue, Alvarado looked at the number of fingers being held up by the ringside physician and gave the wrong answer.

It was the right time for the fight to end. Alvarado hadn’t given himself any chance going in, and his inability to see allowed him to look for a way to go out.

“It was all in the preparation of my training. I wasn’t training like I should have been,” Alvarado said afterward. “That’s what I get.”

He repeated those four words a couple more times during the interview. He spoke of getting himself healthy and of his upcoming wedding.

He had deluded himself going into the fight and will only damage himself further if he doesn’t treat this as rock bottom. His hometown crowd booed him. They’ve now watched him lose two fights there and have now heard him subsequently blame his preparation, his not taking seriously bouts for which they were paying to support him.

It will be difficult for him to rebuild, and it will take a disciplined approach to life and training that he’s failed to show on far too many occasions. He’s done more damage to himself than Rios, Marquez, Provodnikov, Herrera and Prescott combined.

It doesn’t matter if he gets married if he remains separated from that reality.

The 10 Count

1.  Following up on the news that powerful boxing adviser/manager/de facto promoter Al Haymon will be putting on a number of cards on NBC and NBC Sports Network came last week’s announcement that he will be doing the same on the Spike cable television network, beginning with a March 13 doubleheader featuring Andre Berto vs. Josesito Lopez and Shawn Porter vs. Roberto Garcia.

Then came this note from a blog post by Dan Rafael of “Industry sources said Haymon is planning similar time buys for the cards on CBS Sports Net and BET to put on fights involving his vast stable of more than 150 fighters.”

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of ratings these shows pull in. As with the NBC cards, success will need to bring in more than the usual audiences of 1 million to 1.2 million that turn out for, say, an average HBO boxing broadcast.

Pro wrestling from the second-tier TNA Impact Wrestling show pulled in 980,000 viewers for its final broadcast on Spike and likely cost less per episode than a card featuring both Andre Berto and Shawn Porter will cost. Then again, Spike TV isn’t paying for this. Haymon is, which means he and his team will be working to leverage sponsorships and advertising, and they will need to show marketing muscle to build and maintain an audience.

We will no doubt see these “Premiere Boxing Champions” broadcasts cross-promoted on all four networks, making sure that viewers know when and where to tune in for the next installment.

2.  Speaking of boxing ratings, it was good to see that Deontay Wilder’s win over Bermane Stiverne pulled in an average of 1.24 million viewers.

For comparison’s sake on Showtime, Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana pulled in an average of 1.268 million while Broner vs. Paulie Malignaggi pulled in an average of 1.28 million. Miguel Cotto’s loss to Austin Trout also got a big audience for boxing on the network (1.4 million viewers at peak, no immediate data available for the bout's average audience).

Showtime's press office confirmed Wilder-Stiverne as the 4th most-viewed boxing broadcast ever on its network. This isn’t a surprise, given the casual audience’s propensity for tuning in for heavyweight title bouts, given the potential for fun that Wilder-Stiverne had going into it, and given that Wilder is an American fighter who is charismatic, likable and came in with a glossy knockout record.

It would be good for Wilder if that audience continues to follow him to whichever network he appears on next, and particularly good if that audience grows. And it would be great for Showtime if the fans who tuned in for Wilder-Stiverne return on a regular basis for future shows.


Showtime Championship Boxing

won’t be returning until March, this website reported over the weekend.

3.  As for Stiverne, he spent time in the hospital being treated for dehydration after his loss to Wilder and then announced afterward that he’d been diagnosed with something called rhabdomyolysis.

Per Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports: “Rhabdomyolysis is a condition in which the muscle fibers die and are released into the blood stream. One of the causes is extreme physical exertion. Stiverne was severely dehydrated even in the days leading up to his bout with Wilder, and after the fight, his urine was a brown color.”

While I feel for Stiverne, whose performance in the bout was clearly lacking, the blame is on him and his team for not training properly.

Again, via Iole:

“Stiverne told Yahoo Sports that he felt he trained well, but wasn't paying enough attention to his fluid intake. He began training in August for the bout and pushed himself hard for a long time.”

4.  In today’s episode of “To Tell the Truth,” we have Amir Khan vs. Golden Boy Promotions vs. Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza vs. whatever the reality actually is.

“I'm happy with Golden Boy, but I am a free agent now. That was the last fight of the Golden Boy deal,” Khan was quoted as saying by ESPN U.K. in a Dec. 16, 2014, report shortly after his win over Devon Alexander:

That corroborated what unnamed sources had told Ben Thompson of back in November. But then came the news that Golden Boy had settled its case against exiled executive Richard Schaefer, which also included decisions on the statuses of many fighters advised/managed by Al Haymon.

Here’s an excerpt from one of the many reports, this one from Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports on Jan. 9, 2015: “Golden Boy will retain the promotional rights to Haymon-advised fighters such as Amir Khan, Lucas Matthysse and Leo Santa Cruz.”

That’s apparently what Golden Boy told Bob Arum of Top Rank, who says he is looking at making Manny Pacquiao vs. Khan if a mega-fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather once again fails to come to fruition.

“Khan's contract situation is that he is promoted by Oscar [De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions] and he has an advisory contract with Haymon, who has no power to prevent the fight, as we understand it,” Arum told Dan Rafael of in a Jan. 24, 2015, article. “Oscar is confident he can make the fight.”

That same day, FightHype’s Thompson quoted Khan:

“Everything between me and Golden Boy is cool, but at the moment, I mean, look, I was quite shocked when I read that Amir Khan is one of the fighters that's with Golden Boy still because Al Haymon has released me or whatever. I don't know if that was rumors or what because my contract is over with Golden Boy. I mean, I might work with them in the future, who knows, but at the moment, I'm a free agent and the only person I have a link with is Al Haymon, who is my adviser.”

Meanwhile, Arum has said that Khan’s deal with Showtime is up. Khan also says his deal with Showtime has ended. But network executive Stephen Espinoza had this exchange earlier this month in an interview with Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated: Who do you have exclusive contracts with?

Espinoza: Floyd and Amir.

5.  And then there’s the continued back-and-forth about Mayweather-Pacquiao and the status of the negotiations. Bob Arum has claimed that Manny Pacquiao has agreed to everything and that Mayweather is the hold-up, while Showtime’s Espinoza says that Arum is misrepresenting where things stand, that there are no contracts and that issues between his network and HBO are still in the process of being resolved.

This stuff does matter when it comes to figuring out if we are moving in the right direction and deciding whether one party or another (or many, or all of them) will be to blame if the fight doesn’t happen.

In the end, however, I’m no longer emotionally invested in the process, only in the outcome. As has been the case over these past five years, I’ll believe that Mayweather-Pacquiao is happening if — and only if — a deal is announced. Nearly everything else is noise, posturing, spin and bovine scat.

The positive is that there actually have been negotiations. But the only words that truly matter to me will be one of these two official proclamations:

“The fight is on,” or “the fight is off.”

6.  Boxers Behaving Goodly: College boxers at West Virginia University held a card last week to raise money for a local man who is battling colon cancer, according to television station WBOY.

Meanwhile, fundraising efforts continue for boxing photographer Tom Casino, who went from back surgery to a pulmonary embolism to a bad stomach virus, afflictions that will leave him off the job for one year and cost him more than $100,000 in estimated medical bills. The official fundraising page can be seen at

7.  Boxers Behaving Badly: Middleweight titleholder Jermain Taylor already had a court date pending in June for allegedly shooting his cousin last year. But then last week came the news that he’d gotten injured during training — and that he’d been arrested again for allegedly shooting a gun at people during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Little Rock, Arkansas.

He is accused of pointing his gun at a woman and her kids and shooting at their father. The Associated Press listed the charges as “two counts of battery, three counts of aggravated assault, one count of possession of substance, and third-degree endangering a minor” and said Taylor is due back in court on March 20. Taylor pleaded not guilty, saying the people were trespassing (he has a boxing gym alongside the street).

Taylor had been out on bail from last year’s shooting case, but that has been revoked. He’ll remain for the moment in the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility.

His title defense against Sergio Mora that had been scheduled for February is off, obviously.

8.  Ever since last year’s shooting incident, and continuing through with Taylor allegedly throwing a brick at a woman (no charges were filed) and now this most recent troubling set of charges, many have wondered whether the punishment Taylor took during his career—including a brain bleed following his knockout loss to Arthur Abraham—has contributed to Taylor’s behavior.

It’s possible, and it’s fair to wonder given the number of athletes we’ve seen commit violent acts against others and themselves due to brain trauma. While Taylor saw a number of experts before being cleared to fight again after facing Abraham, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been affected since by damage that came before or after.

Or Taylor could have just gone downhill with his behavior as so many other people do. We don’t know.

What we do know is that Taylor should be held accountable for his behavior, that he likely won’t be boxing again for some time (if ever again), that his brain should still be checked to see whether there it shows signs of deterioration, and that boxing as a whole needs to do a better job of monitoring fighters both during and after their careers.

9.  Boxers Behaving Badly update: Glenn McCrory—a retired cruiserweight who held a world title 25 years ago and has worked as a Sky Sports boxing commentator in the United Kingdom for 25 years—has had assault charges against him dropped due to a lack of evidence, according to the Evening Chronicle. He had been accused of assaulting a man and stiffing a taxi driver out of £7 in a pair of October incidents.

The 50-year-old fought from 1984 through 1993, going 30-8-1 with 12 KOs. He outpointed Patrick Lumumba in June 1989 to win the International Boxing Federation belt and defended it successfully once, knocking out Siza Makathini in October 1989 before being knocked out in three rounds by a journeyman named Jeff Lampkin in March 1990. Also on McCrory’s record are a second-round knockout loss to heavyweight prospect Lennox Lewis in 1991 and a points loss to Al Cole in 1993.

10.  Mike Alvarado said he was "thirsty" when he was out at 4 a.m. riding in a vehicle with expired registration and with a gun.

His mistake was having a .44 Colt instead of a Colt 45…

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