Friday, December 09, 2022  |

News

Eleider Alvarez: ‘I always fight with the knockout in my mind’

12
Aug
Photo courtesy of www.themainfight.com

Photo courtesy of www.themainfight.com

 

Every fighter has a moniker to live up to and for Eleider “Storm” Alvarez, the challenge suits him just fine as it describes his usual ring strategy quite vividly.

“I always come out fighting and throwing bombs early to keep my opponents from getting comfortable or confident,” said Alvarez (17-0, 10 knockouts), who fights Paraguay’s Isidro Ranoni Prieto (24-0-3, 20 KOs), this Saturday, Aug. 15 at the Bell Centre in Quebec, Montreal, Canada. “If I come out relaxed, I give them room to get comfortable. I always come out swinging, using my jab, which is one of my strengths, and my counterpunching too. I use my speed and my technique. I am a classic, pure boxer but this is my fighting strategy.”

Alvarez earned his nickname the hard way during his illustrious amateur career, in which he impressed his trainers with his ability to come from behind to get the victory.



“Once I was losing a fight, 8-1, against an Iranian fighter and when you lose by that much margin in the amateurs in the first round, you’re pretty much done,” remembers Alvarez from his failed but courageous participation in the 2007 Amateur World Championships. “But I came out swinging and caught the guy with a right hand and sent him down and he wasn’t the same. I ended up winning 25-18 and then, in the following fight, something similar happened with an Egyptian fighter and I came out throwing rocks too. My trainer said, ‘Now I finally see you have balls,’ and that’s when he named me ‘Tormenta’ (‘Storm’ in Spanish). He wanted to call me ‘Hurac├ín’ (‘Hurricane’) but there was another fighter in Colombia with that same nickname (Ruben Dario Palacio) and we chose something similar.”

After losing to Egypt’s Ramadan Yasser Abdelghaffar in that tournament, Alvarez went on to compete in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing after grabbing a gold medal in the 2007 Pan-American Games for Colombia. But as he gets ready to fight the first Paraguayan fighter to ever make it to a title fight (considering the belt that’s up for grabs is a WBC “silver” title), the question of Alvarez’s own national identity becomes a subject as he reflects on his situation as an ‘adoptive Canadian.’

“I have the support of the people in Canada; I always said that I feel more support here than in Colombia,” said Alvarez, who first arrived in Montreal in 2009 to explore his possibilities and came back to stay in 2011 after a few delays in his immigration status that kept him grounded and inactive in Colombia for almost a year. “I have the support of the people of Quebec, even more than the local Latino community and this makes me feel like a local fighter. The people of Colombia support me too but the people here in Canada pay to go to my fights and see me live. I am known in the local Colombian community but I haven’t felt their support yet and the Colombian community is one of the biggest Latino communities here in Montreal. I hope to see, as time goes on and I become more recognizable, but the greatest support I have it from the local people.”

Alvarez’s highest professional achievement to date, however, took place in a venue quite far away from both of the two countries he alternatively calls home and he hopes that both countries will one day acknowledge the true value of his effort, even though the rest of the boxing world looks down on his belt as a second-rate trinket.

“I don’t see the WBC ‘silver’ title as a consolation prize or a minor title because I went to Monaco to win it and I am waiting to fight for the undisputed title one day like any other boxer,” said Alvarez, who hopes the possession of an actual major belt will earn him greater consideration for bigger opportunities than what a mere mandatory position in the rankings may do. “I expect the opportunity to fight for that title soon. I welcome this title because it is one of my great accomplishments as a professional because nobody just gave it to me; I fought to have it. And I will defend it as hard as I would defend a true world title in order to continue having aspirations to fight for a world title.”

However close he may feel to that opportunity, Alvarez is fully aware that the majority of titles available in his weight class are in the hands of fighters who have pending business among themselves or who are linked to him in a very special way (Jean Pascal shares his longtime trainer with Alvarez). However, he also believes his current ranking (currently No. 3 by the WBC and No. 5 in THE RING ratings) warrants him a better consideration for a major title fight and he hopes to use his own trinket to lure other fellow contenders.

“To me, being among the top five fighters at the WBC means that I am ready to fight for a world title and I am ready to face that challenge. But I am going to wait and see if everything comes out the way I want it in this fight and then I will use my belt to put pressure on other fighters. [Jean] Pascal, it is difficult because we share the same trainer. But with [Adonis] Stevenson and [Lucien] Bute, I guess I could fight one day. But I train with Pascal all the time and my trainer has been with him since he was 13, so it’s a little more difficult there.”

The growth of boxing in Canada, especially in his division, may play against him in more than one way in the future, since he would potentially be facing fighters who have established themselves in the country long before he did, and who enjoy more popularity among the growing boxing fan base north of the border.

“We have to take into account that Pascal lived here almost all his life, he arrived when he was 3-years-old. He represented Canada in the Olympics. Bute has been here for 10 years. So they are more recognized than me around here, of course. I cannot overcome that situation; they have more publicity. But I have to work hard to earn the support of the people here and I will continue getting more and more support from them.”

Before he reaches that point, he will have to overcome a serious hurdle in Ranoni Prieto, an unbeaten fighter with a solid knockout percentage and an awkward style that could put him to the test. But after sparring with fellow contender Ismayl Sillakh, Alvarez feels confident about his chances to get the job done easily.

“(Ismayl) has a very similar style to Ranoni Prieto, my opponent. Ismayl is a fast fighter, with a long reach and an excellent jab. I see Isidro as a good fighter; he has great technique. He is a solid boxer and you can see it in the way he punches, you see that he is a fighter with a great solid stance in the ring. I know this is going to be a great fight, a landmark in my career but this is not going to be easy. I respect Isidro just like I respected every opponent I faced, but you know that when the bell rings, everything changes. But my opinion about him is very positive and I am going to give it my best because he has fought to be in the ring with me and is expecting to win. I know he is very motivated but I will be fighting at home.”

Still, a prediction for the outcome of the fight is not something Alvarez is willing to risk but his confidence is still palpable.

“I never like to give any predictions because you never know what will happen in the ring but I always get ready to score a KO,” said Alvarez. “I always fight with the KO in my mind but I am always ready to go all the way to the scorecards. I am always well prepared, physically. That way, I don’t run into any surprises in a fight because a fighter without any legs or tired can be beat by the worst possible opponents out there if they are better prepared. That’s why I prepare very hard so I don’t have any surprises in the ring and I am always thinking about knocking out my opponents. I won’t name a round but I know I will get the early stoppage.”

 

Diego Morilla, a bilingual boxing writer since 1995, is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He served as boxing writer for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com, and is now a regular contributor to RingTV.com and HBO.com, as well as the resident boxing writer for XNSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MorillaBoxing.