Alvarez retained his Ring/WBC/WBA/IBF/WBO 168-pound titles with a UD over his arch rival. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom
Canelo Alvarez, free from wrist pain, is motivated to create a special night in his native Guadalajara on Saturday and remind the rest of the world that he’s still the No. 1 attraction AND fighter in the sport.
Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs) will defend his undisputed super middleweight championship against The Ring’s No. 5 contender John Ryder (32-5, 18 KOs) before a home-region crowd of 51,000 at Estadio Akron on May 6. The fight (and its main undercard) will stream live on DAZN Pay Per View and also on PPV.com (4:00 p.m. PT/ 7:00 p.m. ET).
Two weeks ago, the promoters of the highly successful Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia event proclaimed that the winner would become the new “Face of Boxing.” Davis won the showdown of popular young lightweights via seventh-round body shot stoppage, but while Alvarez is a fan of the 28-year-old Baltimore native, he’s not ready to concede his crown to “Tank.”
“I’m not retired yet, my friend,” Alvarez told The Ring during a 20-minute Zoom roundtable with a small group of boxing writers on Thursday. “They can say whatever they want, but it’s not that easy. One fight does not put you in that position. You need to do a lot of things.”
Alvarez said there are potential superstars who could be the face of the sport in five years.
“There are a lot of good fighters coming up, one of them is Gervonta for sure. But he needs to do more, not just one fight. I like Gervonta Davis a lot, but he needs to do more to be the face of boxing. One fight with Garcia, and I respect Ryan Garcia, isn’t going to do it.”
When asked what it takes to be the face of boxing, Alvarez replied:
“Just fighting the best, again and again, up and down the weight classes, becoming undisputed, doing what I’ve been doing my whole career.”
Alvarez spoke with a verve that seemed missing from his two fights last year – a surprising points loss to Dmitry Bivol in a bid for the WBA light heavyweight title and a closer-than-anticipated unanimous decision against 40-year-old archrival Gennadiy Golovkin. Some fans and media wondered if the 32-year-old Mexican star was beginning to burn out (mentally and physically) after 60 pro fights.
However, Alvarez chalked his lackluster performances up the nagging – sometimes excruciating – pain he was feeling in his left wrist, which finally underwent successful surgery last November (one month after the rubber match with Golovkin).
“(Going back) to the Caleb Plant fight (the wrist hurt),” Alvarez said. “(It began) two years ago, you know, after four fights in 11 months (it got worse). As a fighter, I told myself, ‘I can do one more fight, one more fight.’”
He says his stubbornness to treat the injury led to a poor camp and his first loss in nine years.
“During the training camp for Bivol, I did not train 100% with sparring or with anything,” Alvarez said.
“The wrist was (hurting) even when they were putting on the gloves in the dressing room. It’s really hard to handle this pain, but my tolerance is very high. But at some point, you can’t (deal with it). At the end of the day, it is what it is, it happened.
“But right now, I can train 100% and that motivates me a lot. I’m motivated and confident. That’s everything for a fighter. When you’re motivated to train 100%, you can be confident (in the ring).”
Alvarez is confident he can handle Ryder, who has won four bouts since dropping a split decision to then-Ring champ Callum Smith that most observers thought he should have won and put on a show his fans will never forget.
“(Ryder) is aggressive, he’s a good fighter, a southpaw, throws punches from everywhere,” Alvarez said. “I love it. It’s going to be a great fight.
“We’re expecting 51,400 fans. My people will remember this night for years and they deserve this because they supported me from the beginning. They deserve to see me in my prime.”
After 17½ years in the professional ranks, Alvarez still believes he’s in his prime, still believes he can beat Bivol.
“I’m better than him,” he said. “I dominated the first five or six rounds. I just got tired because I couldn’t train right because of my wrist.”
After Bivol, he says David Benavidez, The Ring’s No. 1-rated super middleweight can get a shot at his undisputed title.
“You know, I fight everybody,” he said. “When Golovkin first appeared in the boxing community, I was the guy to face him. Same thing with Benavidez.
“My short-term goal is Bivol, then we’ll see. If the Bivol fight is not happening, then we need to see about other things.”
He still believes he’s the pound-for-pound king, too.
“I feel I’m still the best,” Alvarez said. “I feel I’m No. 1 because nobody out there has been doing it like me, (going) up and down in weight, fighting the best fighters, (fighting) the champions, fighting four times in 11 months, unifying all the belts (at super middleweight) in 11 months. Nobody does what I’ve been doing.”
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