By Marc Livitz: Can it really be nearly twenty years since Julio Cesar Chavez was awarded a gift draw in front of nearly 60,000 crazed spectators at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas? The Mexican icon’s bout versus pound for pound great Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker is still a major talking point amongst boxing fans. The events of September 10, 1993 are being reawakened in the hearts and minds of many as April 20 draws closer. In ten days’ time, undefeated Mexican sensation and WBC light middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will be center stage of the fight world and he will match wits and fists against undefeated WBA titleholder Austin “No Doubt” Trout at the same venue and city as previously mentioned. The comparisons between the two fights were perhaps inevitable, although many would agree that Alvarez has not quite yet achieved the status of national hero as Chavez is still known.
Canelo tested his promotional powers earlier this year. He had initially been set to fight on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.’s May 4 showdown with Robert Guerrero in Las Vegas. Saul wanted a guarantee from Mayweather that if the two should emerge victorious in May, then they would find one another in the ring for a September bout. Floyd refused and off went Canelo. He’ll now fight in front of over 35,000 in the Alamodome as opposed to merely 16,000 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and perhaps better still his bout will be televised on Showtime cable network (10PM ET/7PM PT) and not Pay Per View.
Alvarez is currently handled by Golden Boy Promotions. Legendary fighter and current president of Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya couldn’t hide his excitement for the upcoming bout when he as well as the participating fighters took part in an international media conference call this afternoon.
“We are now a little over a week away and things are moving along extremely well. Tickets have been selling like hot cakes. There’s been over 35,000 tickets sold. We’re expecting many more to be sold as walk up sales and many people from south of the border to attend the fight as well. Of course this bout will be for the WBC and the WBA junior middleweight crowns, but now also for the Ring Magazine championship.”
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KO’s) then expressed his happiness surrounding his upcoming bout, the chance to carry the pugilistic torch for Mexico and stressed that Mayweather, Jr. is now in his rearview when he said, “I am very happy that the fight is so near. I am delighted for the chance to fight for the people. I’m motivated and I can’t wait to give my absolute best. I am only thinking about this fight at this time. After this we can discuss what could be next. It’s an honor to be looked upon as Mexico’s champion and I know that I have to continue to do my job in the ring.”
The Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico champion commented that Austin Trout (26-0, 14 KO’s) had been on his radar ever since Trout beat Canelo’s older brother, Rigoberto two years ago. Austin most recently triumphed in his clash with Puerto Rican superstar Miguel Cotto last December in Cotto’s backyard of Madison Square Garden in New York City, after which Alvarez knew the time to fight the Las Cruces, New Mexico champion had come.
“When he beat my brother, I was thinking of blood revenge. I felt so helpless when I was watching him. My team was looking for a fight with Trout after he beat Cotto. Golden Boy helped make the decision and here we are. Without a doubt, this is my most difficult fight. The next fight is always the toughest and I use any criticism as added motivation. He’s (Trout) a strong and undefeated fighter. We had Miguel Cotto in mind, but when Trout beat him we got other ideas. It gave me more of a desire to fight the best.”
Oscar De La Hoya commended his fighter’s desire to step up at the tender age of 22 and face the toughest possible opposition. “It speaks volumes of such a young man to already want to fight the very best. Austin Trout is an undefeated fighter and the WBA champion. Some people were worried. One of them wasn’t me. If you compare Saul’s career to anyone else’s, then you would see that no one including myself would take such a dangerous fight so early in their career”, said the former multi division champion.
Parallels are consistently being drawn between Julio Cesar Chavez’s September 1993 bout with Pernell Whitaker, perhaps unfairly. April 20 will once again showcase an undefeated Mexican superstar and an elusive southpaw. Saul Alvarez is taking it all in stride.
“I am honored and proud to have comparisons made to such great fighters. I want to show that I belong here. It’s a big responsibility for me. I have seen the videos of the (Chavez vs. Whitaker) fight. It’s similar because it’s going to be a difficult fight for me. Austin Trout is a slick, difficult fighter like Pernell Whitaker once was.”
Canelo has no second thoughts of his withdrawal from the May 4 Las Vegas card. He’s actually glad that he didn’t have to wait another month to get back into the ring. He commented, “I’m happy to be fighting in San Antonio. Just look at the response we’ve received. I am waiting for April 20 and I’m very excited.”
As far as Austin “No Doubt” Trout is concerned, April 20 cannot arrive quickly enough. In his mind, he’s eager to see more fights such as his in the future in an effort to strengthen the sport. He’s prepared for whatever Alvarez has in store for him.
“I have said this many times. This fight needed to happen. We have two undefeated fighters in the prime of their careers. I’m looking to win and hopefully becoming a Pay Per View star. He (Alvarez) has lots of skill. He’s fast and strong with explosive reflexes. We don’t think his style will be a problem. In all of my fights, my opponents have left the ring marked up. My punching power is always underestimated.”
Trout defeated Miguel Cotto in New York City and now he has the chance to beat Canelo Alvarez in San Antonio. Although he knows the crowd (most of it) will not necessarily be on his side, his nerves will not get the best of him come fight night. He’s proud to be associated with Pernell Whitaker, yet he feels there are some differences.
“The crowd can’t do anything for him. They can only cheer for him. We’re in the midst of a hard camp because we’re preparing for a tough fight”, said the unbeaten New Mexico fighter. “I punch more than Sweet Pea did. The best way to not let history repeat itself is to know your history. I am looking to not give the crowd anything to cheer for. I know early on, they’ll cheer if he (Alvarez) sneezes.”
The fighters do have a rematch clause in place, yet Trout isn’t looking for a chance at one. He knows the cards in Texas may not be stacked in his direction. Alvarez’s WBC title is on the line and the WBC is based in Mexico City. The WBC Welterweight title was on the line in 1993 when Pernell Whitaker faced Julio Cesar Chavez, only it was Whitaker who was the titleholder.
“We know that Texas is WBC country. I can’t use my energy to draw on things that are out of my control. We’ll stick to our guns and do our absolute best. It’s all motivation. He’s considered one of the best. He has one of the belts that I want and this has been a lifelong dream. This is important to establish my legacy. I know a rematch clause is only for his benefit. It shows a lack of confidence in their fighter. There’s only a rematch if he loses. If he wins, then they’ll just go on their way.”
As evidenced by his willingness to fight Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden last December, Austin Trout feels that a true champion must be ready to defend his title against the best, wherever the chance may present itself. He hopes that San Antonio will be another one of the many places he’s willing to travel to show that he has earned his spot among the sport’s top fighters.
“I will defend my title around the world. All the great fighters did it. I’d love to bring back the golden age of fighting when the best fought the best and were representatives of the world. We’re leading by example and showing what champions should do. This will be a great event. I am expecting the best from Canelo and I’m more than happy to match him step by step.”
April 10, 2013