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Azad Championship Report: Knockout Kings Under Way with Canelo Day

(Photo © Gene Blevins - Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions)
(Photo © Gene Blevins - Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions)


The media was out in force for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s media workout on Wednesday at actor/director Peter Berg’s TSB-44 boxing gym in Santa Monica, CA. By the press release account and pictures viewed on the interwebs, Alvarez appeared to this scribe focused and in great shape for his September 15 MGM Grand showdown (broadcast on Showtime) with The Junior Welter who Could, Josesito Lopez.
 
“This is going to be a tough fight and a great fight for the fans. Josesito has a great chin. I feel I’ll have to work him little by little and throw my best combinations to hurt him,” Alvarez told the assembled media at the press event.
 
Alvarez is not bothered by criticism that Lopez is a small, hand-picked opponent. Just one fight ago, Lopez was a junior welterweight (albeit a tall and lanky one with physical room to grow) before stepping up to 147 pounds and beating the jaw off Victor Ortiz. In truth, Lopez is the taller man and has shown a tremendous chin.

“He’s my opponent and he’s definitely earned the opportunity for this fight,” acknowledged Alvarez. True again, it’s rare that a fighter gets the payday originally reserved for his more renowned opponent. Ortiz was set to face Alvarez September 15 after Paul Williams crashed his motorcycle, resulting in paralysis from the waist down. When Lopez upset Ortiz, he inherited the opponent slot in one of the rare instances of boxing justice.
 
“He’s durable; he’s dangerous and he’s coming to win. He’s coming to win and to take my belt,” said Alvarez.
 
You can argue against any fighter on a popular fighter’s résumé. Message boards and now social media outlets get clogged with endless debates, tearing apart résumés fight by fight. But it’s not always about who you face but how you look when facing them. So far, Alvarez has been dominant in taking out the likes of Ryan Rhodes, who many picked to give him trouble. Alfonso Gomez seemed to give Alvarez trouble with his movement but midway through the fight, Alvarez began landing on him enough to get a stoppage. Whomever he faces, Alvarez treats every foe the same.
 
“There are no weak opponents,” said Alvarez’s trainer, Jose “Chep” Reynoso. “We know that Josesito is capable of causing damage. That’s why we have had 10 weeks of preparation for this fight. We don’t want the same thing to happen to ‘Canelo’ that happened to Ortiz.”
 
The Alvarez camp keeps things vanilla when talking to the press. Perhaps it’s the questions they ask or maybe it speaks to how good his poker face is. Whatever the case, Team Alvarez lets its namesake’s fists do the talking.
 
“This has been a great camp from start to finish,” said Reynoso. “There haven’t been any problems.  ‘Canelo’ is very focused. He has tunnel vision.”
 
The promotion, dubbed “Knockout Kings,” (featuring WBC world featherweight champion Jhonny Gonzalez against Daniel Ponce de Leon, Marcos Maidana vs. Jesus Soto Karass and Leo Santa Cruz against Eric Morel) promises to be a good one. All the fighters on the card bring it. As an added bonus, Golden Boy Promotions is going all UFC on us and adding a knockout bonus of $100,000.
 
“The millions of fans watching live on Showtime will see a great night of non-stop action and knockouts. The $100,000 bonus we’re giving to the top knockout winner only gives more motivation to all the fighters,” said Golden Boy founder Oscar De la Hoya. “Actually, this bonus is so enticing, I’m thinking about maybe coming back.”
 
As a young company, Golden Boy takes hard hits from the media as it learns and progresses in this business. No facet gets hit harder than the matchmaking. On this card, they absolutely got things right. Boxing loves drama and tension. Adding 100K for the guy with the best knockout is in that neighborhood. Top Rank promised something similar to the winner of the ill-fated Brandon Rios-Yuriorkis Gamboa fight. After a long search for a main event opponent, Golden Boy is now revealing this new wrinkle.
 
“You know, Jhonny Gonzalez is thinking the bonus the way he fights,” De la Hoya said, likely with a smile. “Ponce de Leon, ‘Canelo,’ it’s hard to pick who’s going to be the eventual winner. Every fighter on this card possesses tremendous punching power and they can all lay down the hammer and it will be ‘Goodnight’ for their opponents when they do.”
 
You can say what you want about Golden Boy not moving off the September 15 Mexican Independence Day date (rumor has it, down the street at the Thomas and Mack Center, rival promoter Top Rank is doing a show on the same night) but you cannot complain about this card. From start to finish, it promises action and potential knockouts.
 
“Every fight from top to bottom is going to be exciting. I expect them all to end by knockout. They’re all amazing matchups – the matchmaking was crucial to this card and I feel we did a great job,” praised De la Hoya.
 
“I’m not even thinking of the $100,000 knockout bonus. I just want to win convincingly for all my fans. I’m dedicating this fight to them,” Alvarez said. “My sole focus is on September 15. Fighting on Mexican Independence Day weekend is a very big responsibility for me. I’m relaxed and I feel no pressure. It’s different for me now than it used to be. I don’t have as much private time to myself; people know me and recognize me but I fight for the people, my fans.”
 
Tickets priced at $400, $300, $150, $50 and $25, not including applicable service charges and taxes, are on now available for purchase. Ticket sales are limited to 10 per person.
 
There are also some internet deals being advertised by the MGM. Check it out.
 
 
You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him every Monday on “The Next Round” with Steve Kim. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 p.m., PST.


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