Trilogy finale gives Canelo a chance to cement his legacy

When it comes to boxing, Canelo Alvarez doesn’t want much.

He turned pro as a teenager, was champion at 20, and made more money in nearly 17 years in the ring than legends like Joe Louis, Ray Robinson or Muhammad Ali ever dreamed of.

So it would be natural to think – now 32 and with enough money to support several generations – that the Mexican-born pound-for-pound ace would be content to rest on his laurels.

That would also be wrong.

Rather than step back and ride the obligatory defense train towards a lucrative sunset, the undisputed king of super middleweight tilts towards another tough windmill.

Alvarez will put his status as the sport’s hottest star on the line again this weekend in Las Vegas, where he faces familiar foil Gennadiy Golovkin in the Kazakh’s debut at 168 pounds.

It’s a third round of Triple-G for Alvarez, who started gathering divisional belts against Callum Smith in December 2020 and finished with the knockouts of Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant for six months in 2021.

And now motivation translates into a single word.

Legacy.

“I love boxing. And I want to accomplish everything I can in boxing,” he told Boxing Scene. “The best things – fighting the best, fighting all the champions, different weight classes.

“For me, my heritage is important.”

Always has been, in fact.

It’s the product of the mindset forged through a long-standing partnership with coaches Eddy and Chepo Reynoso, who have been around every step of the way on a path that has seen him grow – literally – d a lean 140-pound 15-year-old with a muscular physique that he transformed into at ages 168 and 175.

He had his 34th professional fight a week before his 20th birthday and snatched his first belt at 154 pounds three fights and eight months later, beating Matthew Hatton by unanimous decision in March 2011.

And the quest for greatness was officially launched.

“It all comes down to the people around me,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen, but if you work hard, stay in the gym and stay disciplined, things happen.

“Things come together. When you like something, things come together. We didn’t know it was going to happen and we were going to do this and that and that. But it all comes together.”

That first title fight aired on HBO’s second-tier Boxing After Dark program, but the network’s longtime blow-by-blow man Jim Lampley got a chance to call several of the phenom’s fights in evolving in world championship boxing shows and remains impressed with where he came from where he was.

“A lot more cosmic and versatile than I first imagined,” Lampley told Boxing Scene.

“And you can say the exact same thing in the same terms about Eddy Reynoso. Chicken/egg. Both are about as good as they come. The native nature counter-puncher becomes an indomitable attacker when he wants him? Less than a dozen in boxing history. A superstar with epic historical impact.”

He unified and defended titles six times over the next few months before making the only mistake of his career – or at least doing the one thing he now says he would change – fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The two met in September 2013 when Alvarez, although a 43-fight veteran, was still only 23 and hadn’t competed in such a big event, let alone against an opponent as good as Mayweather, even at 36 years old. over 12 rounds, winning a majority decision that marked his only loss for nine years until he was trained again by light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol over 12 rounds in May.

His promoter at the time, Oscar De La Hoya, told Boxing Scene that he advised Alvarez against participating in the Mayweather match, and Alvarez himself said the outcome might have differed had it happened. later.

“I’m good in my career. But maybe the fight with Mayweather could have waited a little longer, when I got more experience and more fights on the biggest stages,” he said. declared. “Maybe that one. I think it could have been better for me. But I also learned from that fight. So it’s all good timing.”

Indeed, he was a middleweight champion having beaten Miguel Cotto four fights after Mayweather and finally tamed – or at least held off – the boogeyman who was a then-undefeated Golovkin, going 12 rounds for a decision draw. shared in 2017 before returning exactly 364 days later to win a majority nod.

The aforementioned titles at super middleweight and light heavyweight followed in a post-Golovkin run, in which Alvarez earned five of seven wins by knockout while battling foes weighing between 160 and 175 pounds.

He last fought at 160 beating Daniel Jacobs in the second fight of the series and a career high 174 1/2 beating Kovalev, who came in with 29 knockouts in 34 wins.

And although Golovkin’s first two fights were close, Alvarez is a strong trilogy favorite with the odds takers at DraftKings, who have him set up as a -550 pick (bet $550 to win $100) while that Golovkin is a +380 underdog (bet $100 to win $380).

If those numbers hold up and he finishes 2-0-1 against Golovkin, there will be even more talk about Alvarez’s legacy – especially his place in the all-time talks.

But that’s all premature, he said, because there are six or seven years left to build the resume, and he won’t be spending sleepless nights thinking about it anyway.

“It doesn’t matter to me where they put me,” he said.

“I just work hard, fight hard and fight the best. And that’s it.”

* * * * * * * * * *

This week’s title fight schedule:

IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO super middleweight titles – Las Vegas, Nevada

Canelo Alvarez (Champion / No. 1 IWBR) vs. Gennadiy Golovkin (No. 1 WBO / Unranked IWBR)

Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs): Fourth defense of WBA/WBC title; Undefeated at 168 pounds (6-0, 4 KOs)

Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs): Twenty-third title fight (20-1-1); Fourth fight above 160 pounds (3-0, 2 KOs)

Fitzbitz says: I was on the bottom floor of GGG when he was just an IBO champion and I sure hope he calls a classic send off. But I think Canelo is too good at 168. Alvarez at 10 (85/15)

WBC Super Flyweight Title – Las Vegas, Nevada

Jesse Rodriguez (champion/#15 IWBR) vs. Israel Gonzalez (#11 WBC/IWBR unranked)

Rodriguez (16-0, 11 KOs): Second title defense; Third fight in Las Vegas (2-0, 2 KOs)

Gonzalez (28-4-1, 11 KOs): Fourth title fight (0-3); Fifth fight outside of Mexico (1-2-1, 0 KOs)

Fitzbitz says: Gonzalez is a true world-class fighter, but he’s failed every try for a championship before this one, and it’s no easier task here. Rodriguez in 7 (99/1)

Last Week’s Picks: None

Record picks in 2022: 26-12 (68.4%)

Overall caps record: 1,235-404 (75.3%)

REMARK: The fights previewed are only those involving the full title holder of a sanctioning body – no interim, diamond, money, etc. Fights for WBA “world championships” are only included if there is no “super champion” in the weight class.

Lyle Fitzsimmons has been covering professional boxing since 1995 and has written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.