In the arena where it all started back in 1995, Juan Manuel Marquez returned to the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, California to deliver yet another master class of boxing. Marquez showed that at 40 years old he’s still one of the elite boxers in the sport.
As Marquez made his way to the ring, questions began to arise about the aging fighter. Does Marquez still have the speed to keep up with these young guys? Were we about to witness the last ride of a legend? Had Marquez returned to hallowed ground to say his final goodbye? If anything, The Forum served as a fountain of youth for Marquez.
Mike Alvarado, at 33, was supposed to be the younger man, but hard-fought wars and blood baths had clearly accelerated the clock on Alvarado. In the first round, Marquez came out and saw a tentative fighter with a high guard who was unwilling to exchange with him. Or maybe it was part of Alvarado’s strategy. Marquez, after all, has struggled with fighters who stand back and let him lead. Marquez obliged Alvarado and began to open up. A few jabs and a big overhand right later and it became apparent that not only would Marquez be the aggressor in this fight, but that he was actually the quicker man. An advantage Marquez has not had in a long time.
The fight was tense for the first 4 rounds, lacking the all-out action both men are famous for. Part of it was due to Alvarado’s unwillingness to open up and engage Marquez. During the 5th came a shift. Alvarado began to open up, allowing Marquez to counter more frequently. A quiet 8th round was shaken up when Alvarado, perhaps confident from a left hook he had landed moments before, bit on a body jab feint (just like the one Pacquiao did in the 2nd round in his 4th fight with Marquez) and lowered his hands. Marquez made Alvarado pay for his mistake with a sharp jab followed by a brutal straight right. The punch sent Alvarado reeling backward, nearly following out of the ring. Alvarado rose at 8 and made it out of the round (not before needing help finding his corner.)
The fight wasn’t all Marquez. In the very next round, Alvarado came out bouncing on his feet to show his legs were still there following the knockdown. Alvarado moved laterally, switched southpaw and back, and Marquez walked forward with a combination. Marquez’s left hook and straight right found their mark, but Alvarado countered with a short right hand that sent Marquez to the canvas. A typical flash knockdown we’ve seen numerous times over Marquez’s career.
Alvarado’s success would come in spurts over the later rounds, but nothing in his attack was significant or sustained to the point that Marquez was ever in trouble of losing either on points of by knockout. Marquez coasted to a unanimous decision victory and is now the number one contender for Manny Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title.
In the post fight interview, Max Kellerman of HBO Boxing asked Marquez about the potential of a fifth fight with the Filipino star. Marquez seemed indifferent to the fight and avoided answering the question. (A textbook move in order to get a bigger payday for the fight.)
Right now, a 5th Pacquiao fight makes sense from an entertainment point of view. Their previous 4 fights have all been thrillers, and the pool of welterweights over at Top Rank has become thin. Marquez’s other options (realistic options I mean) include Ruslan Provodnikov (should he get past Chris Algieri), Jessie Vargas, and Timothy Bradley. Marquez has already turned down a fight with Provodnikov and Vargas may not be ready yet. As for Bradley, I’m not sure there’s much of a public demand for a rematch between the 2.
The undercard featured Ukrainian junior welterweight Viktor Postol taking on Turkish Selcuk Aydin in a WBC junior welterweight eliminator for Danny Garcia’s title. Postol overcame some early adversity as he was rocked in the 1st round by a sweeping left hook from Aydin. Postol recovered quickly and placed a methodical beatdown on Aydin, hardly losing a round on the scorecards. Postol finished Aydin off in the 11th round with a right uppercut for the ages. The shot snapped Aydin’s head back as Aydin crumpled to the ground. Referee Raul Caiz Jr immediately jumped in to end the fight.
Stylistically, Postol is an upright boxer whose movement is reminiscent of Gennady Golovkin. Except with less head movement and 5 pound gloves on. Postol has slow hands and doesn’t appear to hit hard, but he’s a committed body puncher who’s very accurate. If Postol gets the fight with Danny Garcia, I don’t see it ending well for Postol. His lack of head movement and suspect chin make him a much easier fight than a rematch with Mauricio Herrera.