Boxing / Sports

Marquez to meet Alvarado in welterweight bout

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- The building has undergone a renovation, but for Juan Manuel Marquez this can still be considered home.

Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) returns to The Forum on Saturday night when he faces Mike Alvarado (34-2, 23 KOs) in a welterweight fight that could lead Marquez, a Mexican legend, to the brink of more history.

The winner will become the mandatory challenger for Manny Pacquiao's WBO welterweight title. But as Marquez reminded reporters Wednesday, he wants to focus on No. 1 (Alvarado) first.

"I don't know what's going to happen in the future," Marquez, 40, said. "If I win, then we can talk about the (possible) fifth title."

Both fighters weighed in under the 144-pound limit, Alvarado at 143.2 and Marquez at 141.6.

Marquez wouldn't be able to think about winning a fifth title if it weren't for his early work at The Forum. Under the Forum Boxing promotional banner, Marquez made his name thrilling fans every time he stepped into the ring.

"This is a historical place for me," Marquez said.

Some of the greatest names in the sport have fought at The Forum. The likes of Muhammad Ali, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Oscar De La Hoya, Marco Antonio Barerra, Chiquita Gonzalez, Rafael Ruelas, Mark Johnson and Genaro Hernandez all graced fans with their talents in the ring.

"This is a venue that has meant so much to boxing and boxing in Southern California," Top Rank's Bob Arum said.

In the early stages of his career, Marquez posted a 12-0 record at the Great Western Forum. His first fight in the building came against Martin Ochoa. That was his 10th professional fight.

In 1996, he captured his first title (WBO NABO featherweight) defeating Cedric Mingo by 10th-round stoppage.

"It is definitely a great feeling coming back to The Forum," Marquez's trainer Nacho Beristain said. "Especially since he had what he called a special career at The Forum. Now that he's able to come back, he's able to say thank you to all of the fans that have supported him and he wants to give everybody a great fight.

"There were a lot of fights that I remembered that were spectacular and brought the fans out of their seats," he said. "Against (Catalino) Becerra (1997), (Julian) Wheeler (1995) ... overall, a lot of big fights. This one is going to be tough too."

Marquez also points to his fights against Becerra and Wheeler as memorable moments.

Alvarado, who is coming off of a loss last October to Ruslan Provodnikov, said he remembers watching Marquez during those early days. He's also motivated by the fact that he has an opportunity to face Marquez.

"It's a great feeling and I am inspired by this opportunity to be in there with a legend," he said. "He's had a long career and it's coming to a point in his career where he starts second-guessing whether he still wants to do this.

"He's made a mark in boxing and we'll see what happens on Saturday night. That's on me to exploit it out of him. I want to win this fight and I still have a long career ahead of me. We'll see how bad Marquez wants to stay in this game."

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