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Oh, the Possibilities…

(Photo © German Villasenor)
(Photo © German Villasenor)

By Jason Gonzalez


Nearly four months removed from his most significant victory to date, rising Mexican star Saul “El Canelo” Alvarez returns to the squared circle since defeating future surefire Hall-of-Famer “Sugar” Shane Mosley. As it looks now, the 22-year-old Alvarez appears to be on course to collide head-on with the pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. But before Alvarez, now 40-0-1 (29), can strike gold, there is an important matter of business he must first attend to. Standing in Alvarez’s way is Mexican-American Josesito Lopez, who, like Alvarez, is recently coming off a colossal win.
 
Alvarez and Lopez will do battle in the main event of the “Knockout Kings” card taking place September 15 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Showtime will televise the 12-round championship bout. This past June, Lopez, now 28, moved seven pounds north of the junior welterweight division to face “Vicious” Victor Ortiz. Lopez, a legitimate 140-pound fighter, was replacing then-suspended ex-welterweight champion Andre Berto. In the contest, Lopez put forth a dazzling display of elbow grease that made fight fans feel compelled to congratulate him on the principle of temerity alone. Lopez’s showing of courage paid dividends when Ortiz deemed he could no longer continue after sustaining what had been confirmed as a terribly fractured jaw. Now fighting 14  pounds above his natural weight, Lopez could be regarded as being too small for Alvarez. The Mexican Independence Day extravaganza starring Alvarez and Lopez, though worthy of attention, could prove to be a mismatch. In the long run, could hinder Alvarez’s growth as a professional.

“No! Not at all,” disagreed Alvarez, the WBC junior middleweight champion. “There is an advantage to everything in life. Every fight that we make is progress and it’s one step closer to realizing our dream of being the best in the world. Josesito [Lopez] is there for a reason. He wants to win just like I do. I am preparing myself to the best of my ability, so that there aren’t any surprises on September 15. I am really excited about the fight and I can’t wait till fight time.”
 
After a series of opponents were scratched and proposed fights fell through, this ended with Alvarez having an invitation to the grand festival on the third Saturday in September without a dance partner helping him partake in the art of war. Initially, Paul Williams was scheduled for the slot. All of this changed when Williams was involved in a horrific motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. In came James Kirkland, who was rehabbing his shoulder at the time and believed he would be healthy by fight time, thus making him available to accept the fight. However, a damaging dispute revolving around money caused an Alvarez-Kirkland scrap to fizzle out. Miguel Cotto’s name was thrown out there as a possible opponent for Alvarez but this was no more than wishful thinking. Time-wise, it didn’t make any sense. Cotto had just fought in May, against Mayweather no less, therefore that was just propaganda. What happened next was interesting. The playmakers at Golden Boy Promotions sat down and put their thinking caps on as they attempted to tackle this complex equation. It was a no-brainer; they all agreed that Ortiz was the best viable foe to challenge for Alvarez’s title. But before that could be done, Ortiz had to get by Lopez first before he could punch his ticket to join the fiesta on September 15.
 
Although Ortiz may have been ahead on all three of the judges’ scorecards the night of June 23, extenuating circumstances (a broken mandibular bone) forced him to surrender at the end of the ninth round of their fight. Lopez would stand alone, earning the right to roll with the “Big Dawgs.” As for Alvarez, it left him preparing for four different challengers who fail to resemble each other in any way, shape or form. 90% of the time, these scenarios end in postponement.
 
“I wasn’t worried,” recalled Alvarez. “Thank God there was more than enough time to look for an opponent to face on September 15. At no point was I ever worried about not fighting or losing the date. All the credit in the world to Josesito. He earned the privilege to fight and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
 
Inquiring minds want to know; did the changes alter Alvarez’s training?
 
“The changes haven’t altered nor affected anything whatsoever,” said Alvarez, who has defended his strap four times. “As I’ve mentioned before, there was a lot time to train. There was sufficient time to spar with a lot of different opponents. There was time to change our sparring around if we needed to for whoever it was that we were going to face.”
 
Alvarez channeled pinpoint determination that was easily captured, even over the telephone. To some degree, Alvarez, is a lot like New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter. Alvarez is cordial to his rival and is politically correct in ways that only someone like Jeter, known for habitually saying the right thing at the right time, knows how to employ. It’s truly a testament to Alvarez’s maturity but besides being wise beyond his years, you also get the impression that Alvarez believes his fists will do the talking on fight night. The results will only prove one thing: his mission was to defeat Lopez. However, there two potential distracters on the horizon that could easily weigh heavy on the mind of anyone, particularly a young guy in the limelight like Alvarez.
 
Fully knowing the physical and emotional involvement when fighting, Alvarez’s promoter, Oscar De la Hoya, much to the surprise of everyone else, revealed he will be awarding a $100,000 bonus to any fighter (on the card) that can score the best knockout of the evening. So on top of thinking about a win, De la Hoya just gave his fighter something else to ponder albeit its foolishness. Alvarez could very well find himself in an “Amir Khan situation” and Lopez is just the kind of fighter capable of scoring a huge upset. And there you go; the Mayweather fight is out the window faster than you can snap your fingers.
 
“That will not serve as a distraction to either me or my team,” said Alvarez regarding the monetary incentive. “I am not thinking about that because when you do go out looking for a knockout, it backfires. I am just going to fight my fight. If the knockout comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, well, that’s okay too. What’s important is to get the victory.”
 
It’s no surprise that a fighter with the competitive spirit of Alvarez has expressed that he wants to be the best fighter in the world. And straight out of Alvarez’s mouth, he has stated that at any given moment, he is ready to face any of the elite fighters in the game today. At the same time, while Alvarez and Lopez engage in fistic fury, two of the best middleweights in the world will be duking it out for supremacy at 160 pounds. That’s right, folks; just five minutes away at the Thomas and Mack Center, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sergio Martinez look to unleash guerrilla warfare on each other. As potential adversaries in the near future, you would be inclined to think that Alvarez wants to outdo his rivals by getting a leg up on the competition. If nothing else, it could serve as bargaining chip when negotiating a deal for a fight against either charge. Is Alvarez feeling stressed about performing better than the candidates on his hit list?
 
“That fight means nothing to me,” Alvarez would tell Maxboxing. “I have my own responsibilities and obligations to attend to the night of September 15. I am committed to fighting Josesito the same way Martinez and Chavez Jr. are committed to fighting each other. That said, it isn’t a distraction.”
 
To reiterate, Alvarez is just 22. Barring injury and a commitment to his craft and discipline, the marquee match-ups are always going to be accessible for him to pick. However, the same can’t be said for some of the guys on Alvarez’s radar. With the exception of Chavez Jr., now 26, how long is a guy like a Mayweather or a Martinez going to hang around? Both are pushing 40. Now Cotto is a little younger but he is still in his mid 30’s. How soon in the foreseeable future does Alvarez see these big match-ups materializing?
 
“I don’t like to talk about the future,” he insisted. “I am solely focusing on my fight right now. As I’ve mentioned before, I have an obligation to Josesito Lopez but I am always ready to fight the best in the world such as the Mayweathers and Cottos.”
 
Mayweather-Alvarez? Truly a mega-fight that would garner a lot of attention. It’s the quintessential “passing of the torch” type of scrap, in which the heir to the throne becomes appointed. And just imagine how magnified the event would be if both Mayweather Jr. and Alvarez locked horns on Cinco de Mayo (May 5).
 
“As far as I am concerned, we can do the fight now,” Alvarez said regarding a clash with Mayweather Jr. “We are ready for him tonight. We flew to Los Angeles [GBP headquarters] to sign for the fight. But you know, Mayweather said one thing and we said another. But for now, Mayweather gets preference because he is the best fighter pound-for-pound. But rest assured that when the fight happens, I will be the happiest person in the world.”
 
There are some skeptics who would view a bout with Mayweather Jr. as being non-competitive, due to Alvarez being matched so carefully throughout the course of his career, while at the same time looking for an ideal weight class to fight in. Both Mayweather, Jr. and Cotto are at 154, Martinez and Chavez Jr. are at 160. Is a move up to middleweight, a part of the plan, in attempt to launch a preemptive strike against his counterparts looking to rain on his Mexican Independence Day parade?
 
“I am very comfortable fighting at 154,” said Alvarez, who has fought as low as a 139 pounds. “I feel very strong; this is my ideal weight. For those that have followed my career would agree that I am progressing rather well. I have learned so much in just a short amount of time. I feel that have to learn to box just a little bit more but overall, there isn’t anything that I would change.”
 
“Knockout Kings” featuring Alvarez vs. Lopez begins at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Showtime will air a documentary that goes beyond the ring and into the lives of Alvarez and the unlikely, upstart challenger Lopez, in anticipation of the fight, beginning Wednesday, September 5th at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
 
Jay Gon’s Tidbits
 
Alvarez told Maxboxing that he has not been in contact with Paul Williams. However, Williams will be his guest and will watch from ringside the night of the 15th.
 
-  Alvarez’s favorite sport besides boxing is auto racing. Alvarez cited NASCAR and Formula One as his favorites.
 
-  Alvarez is learning how to speak English. He admitted to taking classes but is in the process of looking for a tutor who will come to his house as well as travel the road with him. Alvarez informed us that when he is not in class, he is utilizing his Rosetta Stone program. Alvarez’s English is truly a work in progress.
 
-  Alvarez acknowledged that he is handling his success and all of the perks that come with fame well, specifically the ladies. “It is all under control,” he said. “Thank God , we have all been coming along just fine. Fame has been treating us fine and well.”
 
-  Alvarez told us that currently, he doesn’t own any pets. Alvarez admits that a pet is a life and you have to attend to it. With his hectic schedule, he does not have the time to care for pets. However, Alvarez is a big animal guy and revealed to us that in the near future, he plans to get a dog. How cool would it be to see Alvarez with a St. Bernard? Also, if more people had his attitude, there wouldn’t be as many neglected and abandoned pets as there are in the world.
 
-  Alvarez loves banda music. Per Wikipedia, bandas play a wide variety of songs, including rancheras, corridos, cumbias, baladas and boleros. Bandas are most widely known for their rancheras but they also play modern Mexican pop, rock and cumbias. Most banda music is very clearly a dialect of polka music. Alvarez also loves singer and guitarist John Sebastian and vocalist Vicente Fernandez.
 
-  Alvarez has a very distinct look. You don’t see many Mexicans with red hair, white skin and freckles. When asked if he has Spanish [from Spain] or Irish ancestry in his blood, he says, “I have no clue. A lot of people ask me that question. I mean, anything is possible. It could be but I would have to ask my parents. I have yet to ask them.”
 
-  Alvarez is elated to be fighting on Mexican Independence Day. “It is with great pride and honor that I will represent my country. I am just so thrilled to be fighting on September 15th. It is an honor that many have yet to achieve. I promise to do the best that I can to win. We will win. This one is for Mexico!”
 
-  Last but not least, Alvarez’s draw came against Jorge Juarez in his fifth professional fight (a four-rounder) six years ago.
 
Questions and comments can be sent to “Jay Gon” at bklynqueenzmpire@aol.com.


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