There's an urgency to Mike Alvarado's jumping rope, like he's trying to race in place to some spot in his head. And that spot is now a jab's length away.
The Denver boxer, undefeated in the junior welterweight ranks, has dominated opponents since 2007, winning 10 of 12 fights by knockout, including eight fights that ended before the fifth round.
Now, after recent activity in the junior welterweight division - the deepest class in boxing - Alvarado seems positioned for the big fights and championship bouts he feels are his to win.
"Let's step up," Alvarado said this week after training at Delgado's Gym in Arvada. "I've proved myself. Let's get some title shots."
But first, Alvarado (30-0, 22 knockouts) will return to Denver on Saturday for a bout against Mexican veteran Gabriel Martinez (27-2-1, 14 KOs). The fight is on Fox Sports Net but blacked out locally and headlines a six-deep card at the outdoor Softball Country Arena starting at 6:30 p.m.
It will be Alvarado's fourth fight in just more than eight months.
"We want to be busy," said Alvarado, who turned 31 on Thursday. "Especially where I'm at in my life. My thing is just staying healthy and focused. I'm ready for something to open up."
Including Amir Khan's belt-unifying victory over Zab Judah and some questions surrounding Timothy Bradley, Alvarado seems on the shortlist of top contenders at 140 pounds. With Khan the top dog and Bradley biding his time, challengers likely include Argentina's Marcos Maidana, New Jersey's Kendall Holt and Alvarado, who is ranked as high as No. 6 in the world.
"I'm ready to show I'm right there," Alvarado said. "I'll fight anybody. Whatever it takes. The best needs to fight the best."
Against Martinez, Alvarado will face a true boxer fighting down from welterweight for the first time.
"He's coming to win," Henry Delgado, Alvarado's manager, said of Martinez. "Which is what we want. He'll try to box. But he's not strong enough for Mike."
Martinez in February lost a unanimous decision to Mark Jason Melligen in Las Vegas, on the same undercard that featured Alvarado's fourth-round KO of Dean Harrison.
In May on the Manny Pacquiao- Shane Mosley undercard, Alvarado dominated Ghana's Ray Narh through three rounds before Narh quit.
"He was ready right away coming off that last fight," said Shann Vilhauer, Alvarado's trainer. "At the level he's at right now, we want more fights."
Saturday's bout, airing on FSN (but blacked out in Colorado) will be Alvarado's first in Denver since 2009 - and it may be his last, if bigger TV fights in Las Vegas and California materialize.
"It's more fire for me, fighting in Denver," Alvarado said. "My family is there. There's a lot of heart in the ring with me. My true support is right there."
At the outdoor Softball Country Arena, 2101 West 64th Ave., in Denver, 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Mike Alvarado vs. Gabriel Martinez
Main event: Denver's Mike Alvarado (30-0, 22 KOs) vs. Mexico's Gabriel Martinez (27-2-1, 14 KOs), junior welterweights
Top undercard: Dallas' Robert Marroquin (19-1, 14 KOs) vs. Mexico's Jose Angel Beranza (33-20-2, 26 KOs), featherweights
Tickets: 303-432-8994, 720-314-7286