Five keys for Mike Alvarado
Plotting a path to victory in Saturday's title bout against Ruslan Provodnikov
Fighting in front of his local fans Saturday night, Mike Alvarado is facing one of the biggest challenges of his career, maybe even more difficult than his two legendary battles with Brandon Rios.
Alvarado (34-1, 23 KOs), a native of Denver, will be defending his junior welterweight title for the first time against Russia's Ruslan Provodnikov at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo.
After recording a victory in his March rematch against Rios, a battle that is a candidate for fight of the year, Alvarado faces a new challenge against Provodnikov (22-2, 15 KOs), a tough and aggressive opponent who has become one of the most exciting fighters in boxing.
Here are five keys to victory for Alvarado against Provodnikov:
Think before you act
|Alvarado learned in his rematch victory against Rios that if he adds intelligence to his ability to throw around 75 punches per round, his chances of success will increase significantly. Against Provodnikov, he will have to be versatile and apply the same strategy. Alvarado will need a cold mind first, hot heart later and constant discipline to keep his fight plan going. That's how he'll be victorious.|
|Alvarado has three inches of reach advantage. It would be a mistake to neglect that. Taking control of the center of the ring, keeping distance behind the jab and punching relentlessly from the angles is a good plan. This is especially true if the battle goes the distance and it becomes necessary for Alvarado to trade at the end of each round in order to get the nod on the scorecards.|
If you build it ...
|Alvarado's team has predicted he will win by knockout between the seventh and eighth round. If Alvarado chooses to be more aggressive than technical to look for a KO, he will have to take some risks. The safest way to do that is by throwing combinations of three or more punches before exiting laterally to avoid fast responses. The surprising changes in rhythm could be the best option to demolish the straight-ahead Provodnikov little by little without being hit too much.|
No risk, big gain
|Timothy Bradley Jr. chose to go toe-to-toe against Provodnikov in March and almost paid a high price. The Russian has a good chin, can absorb punishment and throws more than 65 punches per round. Against an opponent of such characteristics, going toe to toe would be a surefire gamble. Anybody can win, anybody can lose. Alvarado must avoid the open exchanges, except if he finds his opponent in trouble and goes for the finish.|
|Alvarado is living something close to a childhood dream by defending his title at home in front of his own audience. The fans want to see him win, and he has to deliver. But beware: Those obligations sometimes cause a contrary effect. Alvarado must forget about the crowd and keep his head on the fight at all times. Winning this battle could open a door to his first pay-per-view against Manny Pacquiao, Bradley or Rios for the third time.|
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