‘The desire comes from my love for this sport. To get better and to make history and be in the ring is what matters to me,’ says Canelo Alvarez. History, to the one that’s making it, is personal. John Dennen reports from Las Vegas
HE doesn’t need to spell it out, but the hand of history is on Canelo Alvarez’s shoulder. On Saturday (November 6) he fights Caleb Plant to become the super-middleweight world champion. It’s the number one and number two in the division fighting – exactly what we want to see in the sport.
If Alvarez prevails at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday it will be a milestone in his remarkable career and a chapter in Mexican boxing history. Of all the great fighters to emerge from Mexico, Canelo stands to become the first Mexican boxer to unify all four of the major sanctioning body titles if he is victorious.
“It’s not up to me to tell you what that means. You tell me what it means to Mexicans. The people are going to let me know what it means to be the undisputed champion, which of course will be great for my legacy and a great achievement no matter how you look at it,” he said on Tuesday.
He has fought through from lower weight classes, excelled at middleweight, leapt up to light-heavy to knock out Sergey Kovalev and now looks to dominate at super-middle. In Caleb Plant he has another worthy opponent for another contest of true significance. Alvarez is confident of course, and also confident that further challenges will still be waiting for him in future. “I’m not sure but Eddy [Reynoso, his trainer] always has a crazy plan up his sleeve,” he said.
The Plant fight also caps a remarkable sequence of fights for Canelo. The last year that has seen him outpoint Callum Smith in December, before dispatching Avni Yildirim in February and stopping Billy Joe Saunders in May. Being an active fighter makes him a good fighter. “If I have the opportunity to fight four times, three times, five times [a year], I’m happy because this is what I do, this is what I love. I’m always in the gym, I’m always ready to fight. So for me it’s really good. Other fighters I really don’t know,” he said. “It all happened for a reason. I feel great.”
He added, “It’s not just about this 11 months, it’s about the 16 years I’ve had as a pro and the adventures I’ve had along the way. Being undisputed is not easy. If it was, then anybody could do it. So I’m not about to short change what’s about to happen and I’m really proud to be in this position.”
Marvin Hagler famously remarked that it’s hard to get out of bed to do your roadwork when you’re sleeping in silk pyjamas. Canelo doesn’t have a problem walking into some of the biggest events of his career in a designer pyjama suit. This week for instance he arrived in Las Vegas on Monday night, descending a private jet wearing fetching a Dolce & Gabbana pyjama set. Yet Alvarez, a man who has earned an astonishing fortune through his trade, does not appear to have lost any of his drive. “The desire comes out of my love for boxing, I love this sport, and my desire to always get better and to make history and to be in the ring is what matters to me,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with the pyjamas by the way.”
Despite the fracas between the two fighters at their September press conference in Los Angeles, a familiar calm had returned to Alvarez when he was speaking to the press today. He insisted he didn’t need any personal animosity to motivate him for Caleb Plant. “I have nothing with him. So what happened in LA, happened. So for every action there is a reaction. That’s my reaction but I have nothing with him,” Canelo said. “In the end it’s personal, yes, but I’m going to go out in the ring and I don’t have anything to prove to him. He’s going to feel what I have but to him I don’t have anything to prove.
“For me this is nothing different. Nothing changed. So I train 100% and come ready to fight the best fighter out there, so nothing changed for me.”
Perhaps Plant was trying to rile up Alvarez in that press conference. “He [Plant] already did try and it went really badly. But in the end Canelo is going to keep his cool, keep patient and fight his fight. He’s not going to let external factors affect him,” Eddy Reynoso added. “In the beginning of Canelo’s career, maybe he would get pissed off, maybe being hit in a way that he didn’t expect or maybe something happened and he would get angry. Now with the experience, the experience factor is huge and now Canelo’s able to be on an even keel and it really doesn’t affect him.”
To prevent any further outbreaks of mayhem, the fighters might well be kept apart until fight night. If so, Alvarez shrugs it off. “I don’t know but I don’t care. If there’s a face off, it’s okay. If there’s not, it’s okay too,” Canelo said.
He didn’t care to compare Plant with any of his previous opponents. “I need to see in the ring because sometimes you think or expect something and when you get into the ring it’s different. But he’s a good fighter. A good fighter, a skilled fighter, smart fighter. But like I say it’s nothing new to me,” he said.
He has been here before. He already has taken, and won, fights that are the stuff of legacy. He wants more yet. History, to the one who’s making it, is personal. For Canelo Alvarez it comes down simply to being a boxer. “I feel good, I love this, I love being in the ring,” he says, “and I feel great.”