It's no secret that Mike Alvarado has a reputation for being a loose cannon outside of the ring. The drinking, drugs, partying, street fights, and run-ins with the law were all too frequent for the professional fighter. As undeniable evidence of this, I can't help but recall Alvarado walking into the ring for Rios-Alvarado II with a number of noticeable cuts on his face and neck, which were believed to be the results of him getting struck by a beer bottle during a bar room brawl just weeks earlier.
Alvarado was still able to put on a gusty performance to beat Brandon Rios in that second meeting, but that win appeared to mark the pinnacle for him, with things going downhill fast immediately thereafter. Despite losing, Brandon Rios would end up being selected to face Manny Pacquiao in a big money fight (a fight Alvarado strongly, and rightfully, felt he deserved), and Alvarado would go on to face hard-punching Ruslan Provodnikov. Alvarado wound up taking a hellacious beating against Provodnikov en-route to a tenth round stoppage, leaving many to wonder if would have anything left to offer as a prize fighter.
Then, Alvarado would take on future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez in another fight were he took a pretty good beating, losing a wide unanimous decision. Soon afterwards, it became clear as the sun that all of his wild days had caught up with him in dramatic fashion when he faced Brandon Rios for the third time a year ago. Alvarado had absolutely nothing to offer, getting pummeled in three rounds without even putting up a fight. It seemed certain that would be the last we'd ever see of him inside a ring.
Alvarado admits he didn't prepare for that fight adequately. He also says he tore a muscle in his eye during the first round of the that Rios fight, which caused his vision to be dramatically impaired and ultimately forced him stop the fight. He's since had surgery to repair his eye and says it's in much better condition.
Now, a year later, it's comeback season for Mike Alvarado. He opens up in a talk with FightHype about the dramatic changes he's made in his life to get back to where he was, when he was at that pinnacle. Reflecting on what happened leading into his last fight against Brandon Rios, Alvarado says:
"I was in a dark world, man. I was in a dark world. I wasn't doing what I was supposed to do. I was living another lifestyle, meshing that in with my boxing world. I was meshing that type of lifestyle along with my training. Me, as a person, I go hard at everything I do... That pretty much right there, man, in my life, I was fed up with that lifestyle and meshing that type of lifestyle in. I did it my whole career, man. I lived that type of way and it got to the point where hard work beats talent when talent ain't working hard. It got to that point and I was fed up with that lifestyle...Throughout all them fights I've had, I wanted to stay clean and just worry about my training, but it was just always after the fight, I was always back to that lifestyle; that lifestyle that distracted me. I had so many distractions."
When pressed on the "lifestyle" he mentioned, Alvarado elaborates:
"It was the people I was hanging with; it was the lifestyle I was living. The drugs and alcohol played a role in it, you know, in that lifestyle, being out there, the center of attention, always wanting to be in the wrong places at the wrong times doing the wrong things; just that lifestyle, man. It came to a point where I was done with it. I couldn't do that no more. February 16th, that very next day, I surrendered my life. I didn't want it no more. I told my wife, you know, I didn't want this lifestyle no more and I was done. From that day on, I've been sober. I've been sober for 330 days now, almost going on a year. Since then, man, I got married. Me and my wife got married July 11th of last year. I'm a newlywed, so, you know, it's about me and my wife. She's pregnant. I have three girls already, so she's having my boy, man. I went by that Chinese calendar, so it's working, man. It works. We checked the ovulation day, we checked her temperature, we tried it all, man; we broke it down to a science. I was like, man, I'ma do everything the right way nowadays. I'ma do everything right (laughing)."
With the backing of Top Rank, Alvarado says he has full confidence that he'll be able to make a successful return to boxing. He's still waiting on word about a date and opponent but says that when it happens it'll be huge and people will want to follow his story due to his dramatic transformation.
Alvarado goes on to say that his weight is good, walking around between 155-160lbs, and that he fully intends on making a return to welterweight, as he's been keeping an eye on the division.
"I've been watching it, you know. I've been curious about how everybody was going to do and how it was going to turn out. I watched that Bradley-Rios fight. I seen that Rios got that fight with Bradley afterwards, but he wasn't prepared like how he should've been prepared. He was saying he wasn't there. I set Rios up with all them fights, man, you know. He got that Pacquiao fight after I beat Rios that second fight. I only got like a month of good training for that fight, man. That was all pure talent that I beat a lot of these guys with, man, in and out of the gym here and there in between fights. Now it's just 100%; there is no slack in my game no more. There's no cutting corners. I'm 100% so dedicated to what I want. I love it, man. My passion is just striking in me in every kind of way that I need in every aspect of this sport."
Alvarado knows there will be plenty of skeptics who don't believe he's capable of making a credible comeback, but he's trying not to let that deter him from doing what he knows he's capable of.
"When they see this, they're going to be like, 'Yeah, whatever. He's washed up.' I've only shown that; I've only proved that I'm not worth a damn thing. But now, it's like, okay, what about them fights that I did come through on and showed my heart and what I'm really about? That's the Mike that's going to be coming back. That's the Mike that's going to show out, God-willing. I can say that I'm gonna be the best, I can say that I'm going to look a lot better, but I leave it in God's hands and I do what I need to be doing to back that up. Everybody will see though. Everybody will see a huge difference in cleanliness, my whole body being cleansed and my whole life being cleansed out."
Congrats to Alvarado for turning his life around, breaking bad habits is never an easy thing to do. But do any of you see Alvarado making any noise in a crowded welterweight division?