By Bill Green
The undercard bouts for Saturday night’s main event between Crawford-Indongo aren’t your average fill-in or time-managed off-television oriented fights. With a former Olympian and undefeated prospect in Shakur Stevenson 2-0 (1), former Heavyweight challenger Bryant “Bye-Bye” Jennings 19-2 (10), undefeated super-lightweight prospect Mike “Yes Indeed” Reed 22-0 (12), Omaha rising prospects Kevin “Bad Ass” Ventura 7-0 (6) and Steven “So Cold” Nelson 8-0 (7) ….one would be thankful and be in boxing heaven.
However, this is Top Rank and this is history in the making. How can it get any better? How about including former 2 x Super-Lightweight blood and guts warrior, “Mile High” Mike Alvarado 37-4 (25).
Now on the comeback trail, the Colorado warrior is fresh off a devastating knockout over North Carolina’s, Matthew Strode 24-5 (9), back in late May on Michael Conlan’s main event located in Chicago, IL.
Alvarado has an impressive resume which includes winning the 2001 Ringside championship as an amateur, 2011 instant classic in a come from behind win against Bredis Prescott 30-11 (22), 2013 FOY candidate with Brandon “Bam Bam “Rios 34-3-1 (25), and maybe quite possibly receiving the ultimate props when HBO’s Jim Lampley placed him on the “Gatti List.”
Alvarado, now at the age of 37, will continue his quest for another title shot opportunity by facing Brazilian’s Sidney Siqueira 26-12-1 (17). The durable Siqueira is a former Brazilian lightweight champion and has faced several top names including former WBO Light Welterweight champion, Demarcus Corley, undefeated Welterweight Jose Benavidez 25-0 (16), Super lightweight Mike Reed 22-0 (12) and even the champ himself, Terence “Bud” Crawford 31-0 (22).
Alvarado and Siqueira are scheduled for 10 rounds at the welterweight limit of 147lbs.
All the off-television bouts will be shown in their entirety on ESPN’s free downable app WatchESPN.
Fightnews discussed the importance of this bout and future for the former champion:
Hello champ, where did training take place and how did it go?
Training takes place right here in my hometown, Denver, Colorado. Camp was exceptional, we worked hard but honestly having my family by my side and involved in my career is a blessing. Nowadays, I’m a stay home father during the day and bust my butt in the gym at night.
I hear that the training is basically all new, gym, trainer etc. Can you update all the fight fans regarding the recent changes?
Absolutely. The chemistry with the new gym and trainer and the surroundings is perfect for the “new me”. This second half of my career is being taken very seriously. I’m healthy, I’m sober and better yet I live the right life. Back in February of 2015, I surrendered myself to the Lord and these changes for me professionally and personally are essential for me and my career.
So, Rick Lopez Sr, takes over as your head trainer?
Yes sir. Rick sees everything. He critiques me in the right way and I trust him inside and outside of the ring, which is important for a fighter when he enters battle. He is not only family but he is one of boxing’s most underrated trainers. He has sharpened my strengths and polished up my weaknesses.
At 37, some may question what you have left and remain skeptical. I always point out that the one thing that fades in an older fighter is his power. Especially for you, because even in the couple losses you dropped future Hall of Famer Marquez, rocked iro- chinned Ruslan Provodnikov and even wobbled the granite-chinned Rios. Do you still feel the power or better yet do others still feel it?
Yes, Rick keeps telling me every week how hard I’m hitting the mitts while sparring partners are saying it’s the most consistent they have seen me. I always tell people that I now have that “old man strength”. I always believe I’m a punch away from being on top of the boxing world again.
So, a title opportunity is what drives you. As an outsider, the path to a title shot, as we both know, can be complicated and political. What drives me crazy and most likely you even more is the fact that the boxing organizations do not have you rated in the top 10, maybe not even the top 15. Do you feel like boxing loves you when you are on top and after a couple setbacks leaves you in the dust?
Yeah, it’s like that, but you know what…. I don’t blame them. I had some great fights and opportunities…but I let a lot of people down when I decided to not give it my all and live the wrong kind of life. I embarrassed myself, Top Rank, HBO, and my city, with a couple of performances. I thought that my skill was going to get me by just like it always did. The difference looking back is skill will only get you so far. I faced some guys that not only had skill but wanted it more, by dedicating themselves to the gym.
I’m sure you will always carry that barrier until you get that big opportunity to prove everyone wrong. I see that opportunity at your stage coming two ways, both significant, but different paths. The first one I see is eventually one of the current champions at 147 say’s hey I need a tune up and the networks eye you, since you have the resume and are television friendly. Good rating you know. The second part has a real Rocky theme to it as you fight your way back to the top by knocking off contender after contender. How do you see it playing out?
It all is up to God and essentially Top Rank. They gave me another chance and if they want me to play the role of the gatekeeper and that’s my only shot at it than……I will seize that opportunity. However, if they feel like “hey he has put his dues in the sport, and he is ready now” then obviously I will jump on it right away. After 41 fights, trust me I know how to fight, it’s more of me being right with myself and being healthy. I took care of that part, I’m at peace with myself and ready for whatever comes my way.
We know it’s called prize fighting for a reason, but I get the sense that this comeback isn’t just about the money, does that sound like a true statement?
Most definitely. Of course, I want to fight my way into better purses and situations. The difference this time is why. I’m happily married, love my wife, have 2 daughters and most recently we had a boy. When I look at him, now and forever, I want him to know my legacy. I want to fight for him so that he knows of his dad’s mark in the sport. I have plenty left to give and on the 19th I hope to show it and prove it. This fight is for my family. When you have the desire to win that strong and for the right reasons, God will bless you.
That is so true and wow I must admit this is really a new you. I believe that there is always some of our past still inside us but that can be a good thing. Time for me to get the old blood boiling. I heard a recent rumor from a good source that you turned down a good offer from fellow undefeated Welterweight Olympian Jose Ramirez 20-0 (15). Honestly, I see that as a hell of a fight for the fans and yourself. Ramirez is still growing as a pro but he has some flaws that I believe you could capitalize on. He recently was dropped by a left hook by challenger Issouf Kinda, before rallying for a sensational knockout victory. What would happen if you land your left hook on Ramirez?
Oh shit, I would knock Ramirez’s ass out. Sorry for the language (laughing) I mean yeah there was an offer and I’m not running from that fight. He’s up-and-coming and I want to give opportunities to the younger guys coming up just like Bazan and Rosales did for me. But, my thing is, I want things to be right. I know my value and the offer was good but I know my value, especially when I’m right. They wanted me when they thought I was shot, after the Strode fight and after the 19th, let’s just see how much they still want to face me.
You see I got you. I heard in your voice that old Mike laughing. See you on the 19th.
Sounds good, (laughing) Seriously though I can’t wait to fight in Nebraska, on ESPN, the whole thing with the history, unification…man I’m pumped.
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Big thanks to Juaquin Flores and Mike Green for their special assistance.