Notebook: No Boxing No Life, Canelo vows to stay active
LAS VEGAS – Most of today’s top fighters rarely fight more than twice a year, but Ring super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, the pound-for-pound king and the sport’s No. 1 star, is the obvious exception.
Including his unification fight with Caleb Plant to crown the first ever undisputed 168-pound champion on Saturday (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET, $79.95) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Alvarez will have fought four times in 11 months. It’s an unheard of level of activity in this era for an elite boxer.
Alvarez easily outpointed Callum Smith to take his Ring and WBA title and the vacant WBC belt in December, then smashed WBC mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim in three rounds in February before busting up and stopping Billy Joe Saunders in the eighth round to take his WBO title in May. Now he faces IBF titlist Plant.
Alvarez loves to stay active and literally wears his attitude on his apparel, which carries his slogan “No Boxing No Life.”
If Alvarez has his way – which is a good bet, considering the economic clout he brings to the sport — he said he will remain very active again in 2021.
“Yeah, why not? I love boxing,” Alvarez told The Ring. “I love fighting, so I’m always in the gym. Not training so hard but I’m always in the gym. I’m always ready, so why not? We want to see what happens after this fight, but I would love to fight many, many times.”
Alvarez is not just staying active against nobodies. He added top opponents Smith and Saunders to his resume in the past year and obviously hopes to add a win over Plant. Alvarez has also beaten many other top opponents, such as Gennadiy Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Daniel Jacobs, Miguel Cotto, Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout and Shane Mosley, among others.
Few would argue that Alvarez, who has won world titles in four weight classes from junior middleweight to light heavyweight, has already done more than enough to earn a spot in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York.
Is the Hall of Fame something Alvarez ever thinks about?
“I never thought about it. I just train and fight and continue to make history,” Alvarez said. “And in the future, we’ll see. But I never thought about it. (Trainer/manager) Eddy (Reynoso) is the guy always thinking about those kinds of things.”
Next for Canelo?
Alvarez’s stated goal for the past year has been to become the undisputed super middleweight champion and he has methodically won three of the four belts. He can get the fourth by beating Plant and accomplishing the goal. But what is his goal beyond that?
“I don’t know,” Alvarez told The Ring. “There’s something out there is gonna come but right now I’m 100-percent focused on this fight and then – you know me – I always want the best fights out there and I’m gonna look for it.”
Does that mean an eventual return to light heavyweight, where he went for one fight in 2019 and knocked out Sergey Kovalev for the WBO title?
“Yeah, why not? I like a challenge,” he said.
But first he wants his hands on the final belt of the super middleweight puzzle.
“I visualize that. I’m the kind of guy who visualizes those things,” Alvarez said. “So always, every night, always I visualize it. It feels so good when you hear that (announcement of being champion).”
If the fight ends as he hopes, with another belt added to his collection, he has more immediate plans than thinking about his next fight.
“Dinner, celebrate with my family, with my team and that’s it,” Alvarez said. “Play golf and then go with my wife to Paris.”
The Nevada State Athletic Commission has assigned Russell Mora to serve as the referee for Saturday’s fight. It will be his second high-profile fight in a row as he was also the third man in the ring for the epic third heavyweight title fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder on Oct. 9.
Mora has refereed two previous Alvarez fights, his 11th-round knockout of Sergey Kovalev to win the WBO light heavyweight title in 2019 and a 2009 fight in Cancun, Mexico, where Alvarez stopped Jefferson Luis Goncalo in the ninth round.
Mora has worked one previous Plant fight, his 10-round shutout decision of Andrew Hernandez in 2017.
The judges will be Dave Moretti, Steve Weisfeld and Patricia Morse Jarman. Moretti will be working his 11th Alvarez fight. It will be Weisfeld’s fourth Alvarez assignment and Morse Jarman’s second. Weisfeld and Morse Jarman will each be working their second Plant fight. Moretti will be judging his first.
Elvis Rodriguez, a big-punching southpaw from the Dominican Republic, was a highly touted prospect being brought along by Top Rank. But after he lost an eight-round majority decision to Kenneth Sims Jr. on May 22, Top Rank released him.
However, Premier Boxing Champions chief Al Haymon quickly signed him and he will have his first bout since the loss when he faces Juan Pablo Romero (14-0, 9 KOs), 31, of Mexico, in the 10-round opening bout of the Alvarez-Plant PPV telecast.
“It’s been a long road for me to get here. I’m thankful to everyone who’s helped me,” Rodriguez said through an interpreter on Thursday. “I had to work hard and fix a lot of mistakes. I’m a much better fighter now and I’m confident I’m going to show it all off on Saturday.
“I want to show everyone that I’m the real deal. I’m a different fighter and a different person than I was in the past. I have to show everyone that I’m up to the challenge in this fight.”
Top Rank may have lost confidence in the 25-year-old Rodriguez, but Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach did not and remains in his corner. Rodriguez said they are working hard on various aspects of his game.
“In my last fight I committed a lot of mistakes,” Rodriguez said. “There were three main things that I’ve worked on. The first is throwing efficient combinations, then strengthening my defense, and third is being more agile in the ring. All of those things are going to make me better in this fight.
“If I beat Romero on Saturday, it’s going to be a new beginning for my career. I’ve worked hard to get here, but I want more and I believe it’s possible. I’m going to show everyone on Saturday how far I’ve come.”
Dirrell picks Canelo
Former two-time WBC super middleweight titlist Anthony Dirrell fights ”Madman” Marcos Hernandez (15-4-2, 3 KOs) in a 10-rounder in the co-feature hoping to take advantage of the high-profile slot to put on a performance good enough that it might entice the main event winner to give him a title shot. But who does Dirrell (33-2-2, 24 KOs) think that will be? Like most, he is picking Alvarez, who is the heavy favorite.
“I think I’m with everybody else, at least a lot of people, when they say Canelo will win,” Dirrell told The Ring. “I just think Caleb hasn’t fought anybody of significance yet. He fought (Jose) Uzcategui and that’s it and he seems like he got a bad Uzcategui on that night. But styles make fights and we don’t know what will happen. It could be Canelo is just too much for him.”
As for getting a crack at the winner, Dirrell said at Thursday’s undercard press conference, “I’m trying to make my mark and get my shot at the winner of the main event. So I have to make a good statement. I know it won’t be easy and I’m ready for the challenge. This is a big opportunity under one of the biggest fights of this year. I need to get a win and get back to where I was. Once I get this victory on Saturday, we’ll see where the win takes me.”
“I hope he has a good chin because he’s going to need it on fight night,” – Alvarez, when asked for his opinion on the strong chin Plant has so far displayed throughout his career.
“I have a lot of respect for this sport. I’ve dedicated myself to this sport and sacrificed every day. I want my name in those history books. (Saturday) is a big step toward that goal,” – Plant on what the fight means to him.
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