Mike Alvarado concedes he worried about his future following an October loss on home soil to Ruslan Provodnikov.
With his right eye cut and swollen nearly shut, with Provodnikov hitting him with outrageously hard punches, Alvarado sat on the stool following the 10th round and made a wise choice: He'd had enough for one night.
It's not a move that makes boxers a lot of fans, but Alvarado really had no other choice. Provodnikov is one of the game's hardest punchers, and Alvarado couldn't see the punches coming. Continuing could have led to disaster.
But Alvarado was worried because he'd strayed from his plan to box, and for the second time in three fights, it led to a defeat.
Alvarado has been one of the sport's most exciting fighters over the last several years, but he was concerned about the fate of his career after the second loss in a year's time.
And then, his telephone rang and he couldn't believe the words he was hearing.
Not only was he being offered a fight against the legendary Juan Manuel Marquez, but if he'd win it, he'd get the chance to fight the winner of the April 12 bout in Las Vegas between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley.
Alvarado eagerly agreed to fight Marquez on May 17 at the Forum in Los Angeles.
He went from the depths of despair to nearly giddy in a short phone call.
"Sometimes, I don't think the fans and the media understand how much of ourselves we put into this, and how difficult it is to lose when you've put your heart and soul into winning a fight," Alvarado told Yahoo Sports. "The fight means everything, and then to lose it after all the work and all the sacrifices, it hurts more than I could ever say.
"I didn't know what was going to happen [following the loss to Provodnikov]. But I couldn't be more stoked. To come off a loss like that and get a big opportunity like this, it's incredible."
The fact that he got that opportunity proves that he made the right decision in the heat of the moment when it's easy to let machismo and adrenaline take over.
Alvarado had rallied from far behind before to win, stopping Breidis Prescott in a Rocky-esque finish, and he briefly thought he might be able to do it again against Provodnikov.
But in that same instant, he also thought about his future and what might happen to it if he chose to go on and try to score a dramatic victory.
His eye could have suffered even more serious damage. He might have suffered some kind of terrible head trauma had he been hit by a hard punch he did not see.
"I said, 'Hey, I've got a lot of big fights still to come,'" Alvarado said. "I could have showed a lot of heart and came back like I did in the Prescott fight. Maybe it could have gone that way. But I was thinking of the longevity of my career."
Clearly it was the right choice. But it doesn't mean everyone will understand it or accept it.
His promoter, Bob Arum, has been in the game for a half-century and he gets it. And Arum felt that what Alvarado did in saying he'd had enough was a courageous and wise decision.
Never once did Arum think less of Alvarado or consider not using him again in big fights because of it.
"The kid fought his [expletive] heart out in that fight and he gave everything he had in him," Arum said. "He was hurt badly and he couldn't see out of the eye. The fans want blood, but the fans don't really understand. They watch these crazy boxing movies where a Rocky goes out with both eyes shut and can't see and he wins the fight anyway.
"That's great in the movies, but it's a [expletive] movie. That's not real life. This kid is a sensational fighter who has more courage and more balls than just about anyone out there."
Marquez lost to Bradley the week before Alvarado was beaten by Provodnikov, so it made sense for Arum to pair them.
And given the numerous outstanding possibilities that could be made, Arum felt it made sense to put them together.
Alvarado raved about Marquez – "The guy is a legend and he's fought the best and he's really well known," he said – but he eagerly took the bout.
It's a chance for him to do what he long felt he could do.
"It's not easy to get these kind of fights against the top guys like Marquez," Alvarado said. "But I believed I could win fights like this and now I have my chance. All I wanted was a chance and I got it, so I'm unbelievably stoked."
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