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Alvarado 'motivated' for ring return

Former junior welterweight titleholder Mike Alvarado returns to the ring on Saturday after a 14-month layoff. Harry How/Getty Images

While former unified lightweight titlist Juan Diaz takes center stage on Saturday night against Fernando Garcia in his first fight in 18 months -- and on the one-year anniversary of shoulder surgery to repair a torn left rotator cuff -- former junior welterweight titleholder Mike Alvarado is making his own lower-profile comeback in the co-feature.

Alvarado (34-4, 23 KOs) will face Mexico’s Saul Corral (19-6, 10 KOs) in an eight-round welterweight bout that will open the “Solo Boxeo Tecate” telecast (UniMas, 11 ET/PT) at the Arena Theater in Houston, Diaz’s hometown.

The fight will be Alvarado’s first in the 14 months since his woeful display in a rubber match against Brandon Rios. Fighting in front of his hometown fans in Denver, in January 2015, Alvarado put on a disgraceful performance. He admitted that he barely trained for the fight and it showed. He got destroyed in three one-sided rounds and left his hometown fans booing and abandoning him.

Alvarado came into the fight facing legal issues stemming from highly publicized gun charges and a longstanding drinking problem that was not much of a secret. After he hit bottom with the loss to Rios, Alvarado went to alcohol rehabilitation. He claims he has been clean and sober since and that he is taking his comeback seriously.

"I'm motivated. I have been training for a long time,” Alvarado said on Friday.

From 2011 to 2014, Alvarado was one of boxing’s most consistently exciting fighters and was involved in several tremendous fights, including his first two battles with Rios as well as barnburners with Breidis Prescott, Mauricio Herrera, Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez.

But the 35-year-old Alvarado is just 1-4 in his last five fights and has lost three in a row to Rios, Marquez and Provodnikov (who took his 140-pound world title).

Alvarado knows he has not been at his best in recent fights but said he is grateful to get another chance, although it remains to be seen if he can come close to recapturing his past status.

“I'm happy and thankful for the opportunity to showcase my abilities once again and for the opportunity of fighting again,” Alvarado said. “I'm ready to show why (Top Rank) brought me back. My goal is to return to the same place I was before. I want to fight with top level fighters"