DENVER — Boxer Mike Alvarado is taking things one fight at a time: First in a bout with Brandon Rios later this month and then with his latest legal entanglement.
Alvarado ducked direct questions about his most recent run-in with the law after prosecutors formally charged him earlier this week with a weapons offense after police say they found a handgun in his vehicle.
He insisted Wednesday during a promotional event at his gym that he's not even thinking about the consequences of his recent arrest. The only thing on his mind at the moment is Rios as they meet in the ring for a third and decisive time Jan. 24 in Broomfield, Colorado.
"That's my main goal, my main focus, get in there with Rios," said Alvarado, who has split the previous two action-packed bouts with Rios. "I'm going to surprise the world after what happened. I will shock the world."
Police say they arrested the 34-year-old Alvarado on Jan. 3 after they found a handgun in the glove compartment of his Hummer. As a convicted felon, the boxer cannot legally possess a firearm.
At the time, his manager, Henry Delgado, said he was concerned with his boxer's focus so close to the fight. But they recently had a heart-to-heart and Delgado thinks he got through to Alvarado.
"I really see him turning it around," Delgado said. "But we have to wait and see. He's the only one that can do it. I can want him (to turn it around) all I want, his family can want it all they want, but until he makes a decision to do the right thing, he's going to keep having those problems.
"But he keeps getting chances."
This one, Alvarado vows not to blow. Although he's 34-3 in his career and was the former world junior welterweight champion, Alvarado acknowledged no one has truly seen him at his best in the ring. His lifestyle has frequently gotten in his way.
"But I'm done. I'm out of that lifestyle," said Alvarado, who grew up near Denver and recently became engaged. "Negative attitude, negative outcome. Positive attitude, positive results.
"I'm proud of myself right now, the way I feel, considering the fact that everything's been happening. I feel good."
Trainer Shann Vilhauer has noticed a difference in Alvarado, too. His workout sessions have more intensity to them. They've moved on from Alvarado's latest brush with the law.
"Just focused on the fight," Vilhauer said. "Because Brandon Rios is enough to worry about without worrying about that kind of stuff."
Alvarado has reached a crossroads in his career. The boxer known as "Mile High" has dropped his last two bouts, including one against Ruslan Provodnikov in October 2013 in front of a hometown crowd, losing the World Boxing Organization junior welterweight title in the process.
Then he lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Juan Manuel Marquez.
A third meeting with Rios (32-2-1) is a chance to steer his career back on track. The winner is looking at a big paycheck while the loser could be wrapping up their career.
"I'm not thinking like this, but to me, as I've said, if I lose again, I might quit boxing," the 28-year-old Rios said. "At the end of the day, that's not on my mind. I'm going to do what I do best and come out with the win."
One thing's for sure: It's going to be a slugfest. Always is when these two friends step into the ring. Their previous two brawls have gone a combined 19 rounds and featured 3,003 punches.
"I'm ready for whatever he brings," Rios said of a bout that will be shown live on HBO. "It's going to be a great fight."
Rios doesn't believe Alvarado will be distracted one bit by his legal trouble.
"A bump in the road," said Rios, who's living in Oxnard, California, but moved his training base to nearby Greeley, Colorado, to acclimate to the higher elevation. "They caught him with possession of a weapon. Who doesn't have a gun in the car? Just a little thing that happened."