Juan Manuel Marquez says he doesn't view Mike Alvarado as the beaten-up puncher the rest of us might picture.
"I need to be at my best because this will be the best Mike Alvarado we have seen," Marquez told The Times in a telephone interview from the Forum in Inglewood, where he'll return to fight May 17 on HBO.
The 40-year-old Marquez (55-7-1, 40 knockouts) says he's prepared for a desperate welterweight opponent in Alvarado (34-2, 23 KOs), who's out to avoid a career-threatening third loss in four fights.
Alvarado in a March 2013 decision avenged a seventh-round TKO loss to Brandon Rios in 2012, but then was battered badly by Ruslan Provodnikov, quitting on his stool following the 10th round after getting floored twice in the eighth.
"That's exactly it, he can't lose again," Marquez said of Alvarado. "I believe that this fight with Mike Alvarado will be a great one and one that the fans will enjoy. He is a big, tough fighter who gives it his all in the ring. I expect a difficult fight."
Marquez is used to crowd-pleasing bouts at the Forum. He fought there 12 times between Jan. 30, 1995, and May 10, 1999, winning nine by knockout.
"I have a great feeling being back in this historical building," Marquez said. "It's great to be back in a place that is very special to me."
Alvarado, at Wednesday's news conference at the Forum announcing the bout, said, "When Top Rank called and offered a fight with Marquez, I started jumping around. I was so excited because I have the opportunity to get into the ring and retire a Mexican legend.
"I am great under pressure and I am going to fight like the 'Old Mike,' and use my power and my will to beat Marquez. I made a mistake of looking past Ruslan. He jumped on me and got me in a bad situation. He had such an awkward style."
"The difference will be my power," Alvarado said. "I am going to train super hard for my biggest fight."
The stakes for the bout were raised when promoter Bob Arum announced the winner will get the April 12 Timothy Bradley-Manny Pacquiao winner in the fall.
Marquez originally said after knocking out Pacquiao in December 2012, he wanted the four-fight rivalry to end with that moment. If he and Pacquiao win, however, a fifth fight is at hand.
If Bradley and Marquez win, they'll stage a rematch of the October bout Bradley won by split decision in Las Vegas.
"I don't know … first, there's April 12, and then there's May 17, and then there's another fight, but we'll see what happens," Marquez said. "I'm totally focused on Mike Alvarado."
Marquez said he believed "Pacquiao won a close decision," in his June 2012 fight against Bradley that two judges awarded Bradley by split-decision.
"This time, I expect Pacquiao to be more aggressive, throw more punches, use more speed, while I think Bradley will use more of the ring to just box," Marquez said. "I think Pacquiao wins."