As a young boy in his native Colombia, Eleider Alvarez had energy to burn—so his mother provided a flame.
“I was a little bit of a hyperactive kid, and my mom put me in boxing,” Alvarez says from his adopted hometown of Montreal, an interpreter translating his French to English. “At the beginning, I didn’t really like it. I tried to miss some days at the gym.”
It was his voice, not his fists, that Alvarez was preoccupied with at the time. He fantasized about making hits—not delivering them in the ring.
“My family is a musical family, everybody sings or plays some instrument,” he says. “When I was younger, I was dreaming about that. I was the singer in the family.”
But then tragedy struck, and everything changed.
“Suddenly, my mom passed,” he says. “I made a promise, ‘This is what my mom wants. This is what I’m going to do.’”
Still, Alvarez’s musical background would manifest itself into the boxer he’d later become, after all, both are predicated upon rhythm.
“I can see the relationships between musical tempo and boxing tempo, no doubt,” he says.
And this is one of the things that distinguishes Eleider Alvarez (17-0, 10 KOs) from his Colombian boxing brethren.
When you think of fighters who've hailed from Alvarez’s homeland in recent years, guys such as Ricardo Torres, Breidis Prescott, Edison Miranda and Juan Urango, you think of boulder-fisted dudes who seem like they could punch through sheet metal.
But Alvarez breaks from that breed of fighter.
He’s a savvy boxer-puncher, relying on speed and ring smarts more than the raw power often associated with his countrymen.
“Technically, I’m very well-oriented,” he says. “I have a good jab, good technique and above-average punching power that makes me a dangerous fighter.”
Power, however, does define Alvarez’s next opponent, fellow undefeated South American Isidro Ranoni Prieto, who was born in Paraguay but fights out of Argentina. He's earned 20 of his 24 wins by knockout. The two 175-pound contenders will meet in the ring Saturday night in Montreal in a bout airing live on NBC Sports Network (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
“He’s very decent technically and very strong physically,” Alvarez says. “He’s the kind of fighter that you have to be awake against in the ring. You can’t commit any mistakes. I really believe that, technically, I have more tools than my opponent. If I focus, I should be able to control the fight with good counterpunching.”
Alvarez credits his more polished game to his decision to turn pro in Montreal after a stellar amateur career in which he won a gold medal at the 2006 South American Games and gold again at the 2007 Pan American Games.
He moved to Montreal to be a part of the stable of promoter Yvon Michel, whose bumper crop of talent Alvarez frequently trains with, including gym mates Jean Pascal and Artur Beterbiev.
Alvarez has come a long way—in more ways than one.
“I’m glad that I came here to North America and made some improvements in technique and rhythm. I learned to use every tool,” he says, “not only power.”
For full coverage of Alvarez vs Prieto, visit our fight page.