Saul Alvarez, or “Canelo” as he is best known, is set to headline the biggest fight card in Las Vegas this year when he faces Mexican rival Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a bout that will anchor an HBO pay-per-view event at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night.
However, it’s not the fight that boxing fans want. What they desire is for “Canelo” to climb into the ring against undisputed middleweight world champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. Alvarez and his camp -- along with promoter Oscar de la Hoya -- have been quick to either change the subject or give the typical response that the only fighter he’s focused on is Chavez. Though most experts expect Alvarez to win, the fight is more intriguing than it appears on the outside.
Aside from the fact that it’s two highly-publicized boxers fighting on Cinco de Mayo weekend, which has long been the biggest fight weekend of the year, it’s a duel between two young lions who don’t like each other.
“Chavez, Jr. has gotten to this point because of his name; he lacks the discipline to be the best,” Alvarez said in the days leading up to their fight. “He has had so many highs and lows in his career. I hope that he gets his act together and that we get the best Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. in the ring on May 6. That is going to make the fight all the more action packed inside the ring. I don't want any excuses.”
Mexican rivalries aren’t anything new to the sport. One needs to only look at the past 20 years to see that de la Hoya once had a heated rivalry with Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Rafael Marquez had four amazingly brutal wars with Israel Vazquez and, of course, there was the savage trilogy between Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. But where, exactly, did the rivalry between “Canelo” and Chavez Jr. even come from?
“Well, this rivalry goes back about 10 years, you know, to our time in Guadalajara,” Alvarez reflected. “They had the opportunity to make this fight years ago. They had the power to make this fight back then. They didn't want to. As a person, you know, I don't know him well, but just from what I hear from his actions and all, it's like a guy that just doesn't sustain what he says. You know, he just says a lot of things. It's almost like he's a little kid.”
Alvarez also doesn’t hold his upcoming foe in high regard, considering Chavez Jr.’s past (mis)adventures outside the ring. Chavez Jr. has been critical that he has come under scrutiny in the lead-up to their encounter and has lashed out that he has been targeted and subjected to random pre-fight urinalyses. Again, “Canelo” pointed to his adversary’s past and chided him for his actions.
“What he's saying is very stupid,” Alvarez stated. “Simply put, very stupid. Because we're talking about the top agency (VADA), a very professional -- whether they do blood, whether they do urine, whatever they do, they know what they are doing. And I haven't tested positive, ever, in my career, and he's tested two or three times. So he should shut up and worry about himself and stop saying those stupid things.”
As expected, Alvarez predicted a knockout and said only more greatness awaits him in the future. Right on cue, however, the questions of whether he’ll fight Golovkin next were dodged like a loopy left hook.
“Right now, I’m not even thinking about [‘GGG’],” Alvarez said. “I have a job to do on Saturday and my only focus is on beating Chavez Jr. and winning for Mexico. He [Golovkin] isn’t even in my mind.”
De la Hoya announced recently that his Golden Boy promotions has secured T-Mobile Arena for a September date, and the logic is that the Alvarez-Golovkin showdown will happen then. Rumors have been swirling that if they are both victorious on Saturday that David Lemieux and “Canelo” will lock horns in September, but the promotional team refused to address the issue. For now, the boxing world has to just sit back and enjoy a brawl that should be entertaining, one that “The Golden Boy” has proclaimed to be the “greatest fight in the history of Mexico.”