There isn't a large group of recognizable names available that boxing fans want to see enter the ring against WBO champ Mike Alvarado, and certainly not any names that casual fans want to see.
There are four names that have come up and are being discussed. The first one is maybe the most obvious, Ruslan Provodnikov. The hard hitting, gutsy fighter was involved in a Fight of the Year candidate early in 2013 against Timothy Bradley. He lost, but many believe that he actually won that fight after knocking down Bradley early and nearly stopping him.
Provodnikov has told everybody that will listen that he wants to fight Mike. He has even sent tweets directly to Mike, declaring so. It's not exactly Henry Delgado's first choice, but it isn't a fight that he is scared of either. Everybody in Alvarado's camp believes that this would be a fun fight that Mike would eventually come out on top in.
Unfortunately, words are not always as they seem. When the time came, just a few weeks ago, for Provodnikov to start negotiations for this fight, he made it VERY obvious that he wants nothing to do with fighting Mike Alvarado. Especially at 5,280 feet above sea level, in Denver.
Ruslan didn't waste much time in letting Top Rank know that he wanted a ridiculous amount of money that I can’t quote in this column. Let’s just say that it is much more than he has ever made in a fight before and much more than what Mike Alvarado would make. He actually had the balls to ask for more money than Mike.
He either thinks that he is a much bigger name than he actually is or all of that smack talk was just to get attention. Ruslan knows that he would never get that much money. This is an old tactic that fighters use to show the public that it is not their fault when a fight doesn't go through. He's already spoken publicly, so now nobody can say he was ducking.
Bottom line: Ruslan Provodnikov DOES NOT want to fight Mike Alvarado. If this fight happens, it's because Provodnikov cut his financial request in half and decided to step into the ring with Alvarado, after all. Maybe he realizes that that this is his best opportunity and does so.
The next name is Zab Judah. Zab has options and is not locked down to one exclusive promotional company. Zab certainly isn't scared of anybody and has shown it. He embarked in an all-out war with world champion Danny Garcia not long ago and doesn't hide from anybody.
One problem, Zab has no problem fighting Mike, but will not do it in Denver. Those are the words taken right out of his mouth. He will fight Mike in New York or in Vegas, but not in Mike’s hometown. A silly notion coming from a guy that has had numerous opponents fight him in his own backyard over the years.
Again, this fight could happen, but might not be in Denver. If Top Rank cannot pull off a fight in Denver, than maybe you will get a chance to see Alvarado vs. Judah from another venue. I can't read the future. Fighters have been known to change their minds, but that is the current status of this situation.
The third name that was slightly thrown around is Karim Mayfield. I don't believe this fight happens because it does nothing for Top Rank. Mayfield is only known outside of the Bay area by the hardcore fight fans and if he were to lose, than Top Rank has just lost their ability to promote an excellent prospect that should become a star in the next few years.
The final, most logical name is the one that I'm thinking could possibly be the one that you see this fall, if the fight were to end up in Denver like we all want. You might not like it when I say it, but with not many options on the table right now and fighters not wanting to travel to the Mile High City to fight, this could be the one.
Antonio DeMarco is a recent victim of Adrien Broner and could potentially be the next victim of Mike Alvarado. He's a south paw who has won a world title in the 135 pound division and is not against moving up for a big opportunity and a nice pay day.
DeMarco (28-3, 21KO's) has lost his last two big tests against Adrien Broner and the late Edwin Valero but both of those fighters were undefeated and respectively, both still are. Outside of an early loss that many fighters obtain during the infancy of their career (see Nonito Donaire), DeMarco has been very good and is very exciting.
Talks have been ongoing and DeMarco has not been ruled out. The three other names that I mentioned are all lingering under the "doubt" category at this point but are defintely not ruled out. All of these talks are preliminary which means that things can change fast.
Boxing might be a science, but the business is not. Mike could end up fighting one of these candidates or a fighter could walk out of left field and end up in the Pepsi Center this fall. We just don't know.
What we do know, is that fighting Mike Alvarado in Denver is not a dream destination for anybody.