By Marc Livitz: The Las Vegas Strip now has a new, state of the art venue to highlight its many attractions which are known worldwide. Just behind the New York New York Hotel sits T-Mobile Arena, which opened last year just in time to host a WBC middleweight showdown between Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Amir Khan. Although much praise was given to Khan for his willingness to hop two weight classes from welterweight to middleweight, Alvarez prevailed midway through the contest by way of a brutal, sixth round knockout.
About an hour after the victory, Canelo and his team of handlers fielded questions from the media and the majority of questions, of course centered on a possible middleweight unification bout against Gennady Golovkin. That particular bout has yet to materialize and as of now is still on the back burner of prize fighting. Instead, Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KO’s) opted to face Liam Smith last September in Dallas and landed a thunderous body shot en route to a ninth round stoppage. Rumors began to circulate about a meeting with Golovkin, yet for one or many reasons, it didn’t come to fruition.
Historically speaking, Cinco de Mayo weekend in Las Vegas has played host to several memorable contests between Mexico’s best, such as those between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales. However, in terms of high profile fights encompassing Mexico’s popular holidays in May and September, much of the past decade has belonged to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. His narrow win over Oscar De La Hoya in May 2007 essentially cemented this privilege, but he’s now retired. Perhaps having Canelo Alvarez as a mainstay in May and September, provided he faces quality opposition can hand such important responsibilities back to the rightful owner of the two big weekends.
So, although Canelo won’t be facing Golovkin on May 6, the fact that he is instead going into battle against fellow Mexican, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. has brought a surprising amount of attention. Truth be told, it wasn’t so long ago that many within the boxing know were referring to Chavez (50-2-1, 32 KO’s) as a spoiled, undisciplined son of a legend who has long ridden the heroic wave created by his father. Nevertheless, the May 6 bout between Canelo and Julio, Jr. sold out the T-Mobile Arena in a very short time and tickets are now being sold to watch the fight in Vegas hotel ballrooms as a consolation. As the contest draws closer, anticipation continues to build. Canelo and his team took time out of their respective schedules to speak to the media on an international conference call on Tuesday afternoon.
Selected Highlights Listed Below
Chairman/CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, Oscar De La Hoya: “We’re roughly thirty days away from this big event which will take place on Cinco de Mayo weekend. Just to let you know, the response has been unbelievable. We haven’t had a Mexican showdown on Cinco de Mayo weekend in a very long time and the demand has been incredible. We haven’t seen this type of demand since the days of Barrera vs Morales.”
“This fight is not only for the boxing fans, but also one that casual sports fans have been supporting because of their careers and their records. We’re happy with how the tickets sold out and now, many MGM properties are opening up locations for closed-circuit viewing.”
Eddy Reynoso, Head Trainer of Canelo Alvarez: “The most difficult part is that he’s Mexican and a fight between two guys from Mexico brings out the best in both of them.”
Canelo’s Thoughts on an all Mexican Battle: “Titles are important but this is bigger. This is for honor and pride, so it’s important that I win and continue to make history.”
De La Hoya’s Input on the same: “These are the types of fights that take matters to a completely new level. It makes you train harder and gives you that extra motivation. You’re so amped because the fight is so personal. For some reason, there’s something extra that comes out of you, even in training. If you want to run ten miles, then you better run eleven. We’re going to see two completely different fighters that we’ve seen in the past.”
“In terms of action in the ring, it’s like Barrera versus Morales. However, in terms of anticipation, this is among the biggest ever.”
Canelo on Adjusting to Chavez’s Size Advantage: “I have been training with much bigger sparring partners and I’m feeling comfortable and strong. It’s nice not having to dehydrate. We’ll see how my body adapts on fight night. I’m hoping to give the public a beautiful fight on May 6th.”
If He Can Make Julio Quit in the ring: “Anything is possible in boxing and as the great Bernard Hopkins once said, “once a quitter, always a quitter”, so we’ll see.”
On Recent Photos of a ripped and ready Chavez: “I don’t care at all. I’ve been fighting since I was fifteen years old, so I’m actually happy that he’s been working hard. I’m feeling strong and ready and I’m glad that he is, too. I hope that everything he’s saying is true and that he’s ready for this.”
Personal Views of Julio: “I’ve known him for about ten years. They had the power to make this fight many years ago, but they didn’t. As a person, I don’t know him that well, but my opinion of him is that he’s a guy who doesn’t apply himself or do what he says.”
Whether He or Chavez is the current face of Mexican boxing: “My fans know that I started from nothing and worked my way up through sweat and sacrifice. He has fans, but I think many of his are that of his father’s. He’s shown lots of up’s and down’s in his career and he hasn’t always been a good example to young kids and fighters.”
Does he see a knockout? “There’s a good chance that this fight could end by knockout because of our styles and our size. That could happen and we’ll do everything we can to please the fans. We’re ready for whatever he brings.”
If Famed Trainer, Naco Beristain can help Chavez, Jr.: “I have no concerns at all about that. How much more can he teach him? I have the best corner in the world.”
Why He’s Favored to Win: “They know based on my history, discipline and talent. The experts see that and they know. That’s why I’m favored.”