DENVER (CBS4) – Boxer Mike Alvarado is hoping to bring a championship belt back to Denver as he will take on Brandon Rios in Las Vegas on Saturday.
In their last go-around, Rios rallied to stop Alvarado in the seventh round. That fight was so good, they had to meet again. This time they’ll be fighting for the vacant WBO junior welterweight title.
Alvarado is a former state champion wrestler who stumbled into boxing at the age of 20.
“I really wasn’t doing much with myself and one day I decided, ‘Hey, let’s go check out the boxing gym,’ ” Alvarado said.
His career took off — one step, one fight at a time. He knocked out everything they put in front of him. And then, a misstep. Alvarado went to jail in 2009 for various traffic and driving offenses and he was out of the gym for nearly a year.
PHOTO GALLERY: Mike Alvarado Vs. Brandon Rios 2012
“I stuck with it and it just hit me … ‘This is what I want to do, this is me, this is part of my life, this is what it’s become,’ so I got a second chance,” he said.
He would need a third chance after another jail stint in 2010 for violating his parole. But he kept climbing, kept winning.
There are different ways to “get there” as a boxer. Alvarado had to lose. Last October he was 33-0 with championship aspirations when he faced Rios in what would become the fight of the year. It was the seventh round and he was winning the fight. All he had to do was play it safe, but that’s not Alvarado. He said pride sometimes gets in the way of strategy.
“That’s what kind of willed me into his game, his style of fighting,” he said. “(I was) easily boxing, moving around, making it hard for him, but once my heart took over.”
His heart cost him. This time, he’ll listen to his brain.
Alvarado held training camp in Denver at Delgado’s Gym, where young fighters look up to him. They see the work he puts in. He’s “Mile High Mike,” he’s come too far, he can’t lose again.