“Canelo Mania is stronger than ever!”
That’s what Oscar De La Hoya told TSS, and all signs point to it being true. Despite losing to Floyd Mayweather by majority decision in September 2013, Alvarez is still nicely positioned as boxing’s next big star after a stoppage win over Alfredo Angulo and a decision triumph over Erislandy Lara last year.
Alvarez faces action fighter James Kirkland on Saturday at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The bout will be televised live on HBO.
De La Hoya said there was a lot to like about the star of his stable at Golden Boy Promotions, and it’s hard to disagree with him. HBO lured Alvarez back from Showtime at the end of last year and seems to consider the 24-year-old a franchise fighter, one they will feature for years to come.
“I think it’s his willingness to fight the best but also his style,” said De La Hoya. “He has a fan-friendly style. His looks obviously help. He’s been able to capture an audience that not too many fighters can capture: the women. He attracts women. Only a handful of fighters were able to do that in the history of the sport.”
De La Hoya enjoyed similar success in that demographic during his fighting career. He was also the type of fighter who took difficult challenges against fellow stars such as Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins. De La Hoya said he sees a lot of himself in Alvarez. Moreover, he’s happy with Alvarez’s decision to move back over to HBO.
“It’s exciting that Canelo is with HBO. I fought on HBO. I ended my career on HBO. Now the question is whether Canelo, or how fast Canelo, is going to have the signature win to take him over the top and make him a superstar. I believe it’s right around the corner.”
De La Hoya tried to get Alvarez such an opportunity against middleweight champion Miguel Cotto earlier this year. After that fell through, Alvarez signed to fight Kirkland in a bout that’s sure to be a fan-friendly firefight. Still, De La Hoya knows Alvarez needs a win over a superstar like Cotto to take his career to the next level. He said Golden Boy Promotions would push again for the bout later this year.
“A Miguel Cotto fight would be enormous. Canelo winning a fight against Cotto would definitely take him over the top. We’re pushing very hard to make that fight.”
Regardless, Alvarez is already a fan favorite. His best win to date is probably his victory over Lara, an excellent fighter who is not a star because of his defensive style. But Alvarez seems to be a hit with fans already without a bigger win on his ledger. De La Hoya suggested it’s just the way he’s put together. Fans can simply tell what kind of fighter he is and how seriously he takes his job. They respect him for it. They love him for it.
“He’s a serious athlete. He takes his craft at heart. This kid is a no-nonsense type of guy. Yeah, he’s charismatic and playful and fun, but he takes his craft seriously. He’s not a drinker. He’s not a smoker. In his off time, all he wants to do is train and fight and be great.”
There’s no telling how great Alvarez can be. Maybe he’s peaked already and will never live up to De La Hoya’s expectations. But maybe he can be something special, a popular fighter like De La Hoya was in his time and one who fights the same types of tough challenges, too.
If anything, Alvarez seems to be on a path that will let us know soon enough. Kirkland is no gimme fight. He’s tough, mean and a hard puncher. Moreover, De La Hoya seems sincere about getting Alvarez the Cotto fight as soon as possible.
Those wins would go a long way toward indicating the “Canelo Mania” De La Hoya references as “stronger than ever” is truly here to stay.