Philadelphia has long been a fertile breeding ground for some of the world's best fighters, both real and fictional - boxers like "Smokin" Joe Frazier and Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins, not to mention Sly Stallone's Rocky Balboa.
Philadelphia has long been a fertile breeding ground for some of the worlds best fighters, both real and fictional - boxers like "Smokin" Joe Frazier and Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins, not to mention Sly Stallones Rocky Balboa.
These days, the "City of Brotherly Love" is home to some of Americas toughest mixed martial arts fighters, like Eddie Alvarez.
With movie-star looks and lightning fast hooks, the 23-year-old product of Philadelphias Fight Factory is one of the most marketable young fighters on the MMA scene.
"I think I was born to fight," says Alvarez. "I grew up in Kensington, which is a working class neighborhood in Philly known for fighting, so its been around me my whole life." A two-time All-American wrestler in high school, Alvarez wrestled with life after graduation.
"Trouble seemed to find me, and I wound up getting into fights on the street, so I decided to take it a little more seriously and really learn how to fight. I went to a class at Steven Haighs Fight Factory and got hooked on MMA."
Alvarez began his pro career in December, 2003 with a first round KO over Anthony Ladonna in Ring of Combat 5 in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
"Id fought on the street so many times I was very composed in the ring," he recalls. "I just felt comfortable, like I was in there doing what I was supposed to be doing."
Alvarez continued to vanquish his opponents with devastating punching power, amassing a record of 6-0 with five KOs, before finding himself in Atlantic City for a Mixed Fighting Championship event in June, 2006.
With Pride heavyweight champ Fedor Emelianenko looking on, Alvarez faced off against veteran fighter Derrick Noble for the MFC welterweight title belt.
"I had about seven hundred fans that came to see me fight," remembers Alvarez. "I didnt want to disappoint them, so I came out swinging."
The fight lasted exactly 61 seconds, with Alvarez pummeling Noble into his corner to earn the title by knockout.
"Being able to knockout a guy who had only been knocked out once in 25 fights made people sit up and really take notice," says Alvarez.
He would go on to defend his title in Tokyo, Japan, where he knocked out Hidenobu Koike a minute and a half into the 1st round.
Alvarez then challenged the iron-jawed Aaron Riley in December of `06 for the vacant Bodog Fight Welterweight Title at Bodog Fight: USA vs. Russia in Vancouver, Canada. Riley lasted 65 seconds before succumbing to the powerful strikes of Alvarez, who despite his impressive knockout record and chiseled physique, says he doesnt focus much on strength training.
"I believe in speed more than anything, which is why I drifted away from my weight lifting at the beginning of my fight career and began thinking about speed more than strength. With four-once gloves, in MMA its not who hits the hardest. Its who gets there first that usually wins."
Alvarez landed early and often against his next opponent, Scott Henze, whose corner mercifully threw in the towel at 3:56 of round one at Bodog Fight: Costa Rica Combat.
With the Philly brawler improving his record to 10-0, Alvarez traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia for Bodog Fight: Clash of the Nations, where he was matched up against Nick "The Goat" Thompson - whose nickname refers to an animal notorious for losing consciousness when frightened.
Easy pickings for the undefeated Alvarez, right? Not quite.
Using his reach advantage to keep Alvarez at bay, the larger Thompson floored the champ with a left hand late in the second round to become Bodog Fights new welterweight champion.
Now, the former undefeated champ wants his title back.
Fortunately for the Philly fighter, the road back starts in his own back yard, with Bodog Fight: Eddie Alvarez vs. Matt Lee set to take place in nearby Trenton, New Jersey on Saturday, July 14th.
With thousands of his friends and fans in attendance, Alvarez plans to prove the heart of a champion doesnt stop beating without a belt. Hes also got a score to settle with Bostons Matt Lee (9-5-1).
"He won a decision over my trainer (Stephen Haigh) last year," says Alvarez. "So, on behalf of the Fight Factory, Im gonna pay him back."
In addition to the headline fight between Alvarez and Lee, the event card also features two championship bouts - a middleweight title fight between Trevor Prangley and Yuki Kondo, and a womens 135-pound championship bout between New Jerseys Tara LaRosa and New Yorks Laura DAuguste.
Other bouts include:
Yves Edwards vs. Jorge Masvidal
Chael Sonnen vs. Amar Suloev
Yoshiki Takahashi vs. Mark Burch
Roman Zentsov vs. Branded Lee Hinkle
Nick Agallar vs. James "Binky" Jones
David Love vs. Eben Oroz
Dan Hawley vs. Blair Tugman
Tickets available through www.comcasttix.com.
For more information, visit www.BodogFight.com.