At 31 years old, junior welterweight 'Mile High' Mike Alvarado is among the elder statesmen in boxing's most youthful and talented division.
So the Denver, Colo., resident is on the fast track toward making his mark in a weight class that includes titleholders Amir Khan, Tim Bradley and a number of other younger fighters.
The hard-punching Alvarado (30-0, 22 knockouts) will be after his sixth victory in over the course of 15 months, his fifth consecutive knockout, and his 10th stoppage over his past 11 bouts when he meets Mexico's Gabriel Martinez (27-2-1, 14 KOs) on Saturday night before his hometown crowd at Softball Country Arena in Denver.
"I'm just ready for whatever Gabriel is going to bring to the table. I'm just ready to get this fight out of the way and to move on to bigger and better things," said Alvarado, who is coming off of May's fourth-round stoppage of Ray Narh (25-2, 21 KOs), ending the Ghanaian's 15-fight winning streak that included 13 knockouts.
"My hard work and focus is going to pay off with another good performance on Saturday," Alvarado told RingTV.com. "I know that I'm ready for a shot at the world title, and it's time to prove to the world that I am a top contender and that I am a world champion. That's my main goal."
Alvarado-Narh took place on the under card of Manny Pacquiao's unanimous decision over Shane Mosley, and Alvarado's bout with Martinez is being televised by Fox Deportes/Fox Sports Net.
"You've got to think that with a good performance on Saturday night that he fits right in there with any of the best in the division," said Top Rank Vice President Carl Moretti. "I'd love to get him a couple of more shots at some seasoned veterans or something like that. Maybe two more fights and he's ready."
Alvarado was a state wrestling champion at 112-, and, 130-pounds during his sophomore and junior years of high school. It is a background that made it easier when it came to adjusting to the rigors of boxing.
"I wrestled year round, and having that dedication in that sport was a great background to have," said Alvarado. "Mentally, physically, that gave me the work ethic that I have throughout all of the training that I do."
That discipline has made Alvarado a force with which to be reckoned.
"He's very strong at that weight, and he seems to settle down on his weight and makes 140 easy," said Moretti. "I think that he needs some more exposure, and then he's right in there with Bradley and Khan. Those two are the biggest names in the division. So he looks good for the rest of this year, and certainly moving into 2012. A couple of more fights and he'll be there."