Canelo Alvarez stands on the ultra-short list of guys who can take the reins, in a revenue sense, from the boxing moneymakers who are getting up there in years. The Mexican, who turned pro at age 15, when most kids are still trying to master which brand of zit creme works best on their face, is 23, and will be up against two tests on Saturday night, in Las Vegas. First, his in-ring foe, Erislandy Lara. The Cuban escapee bills himself as "The American Dream," because he's so pleased to be living in a land where his talents can be fully utilized and exploited for money and stability for him and his family. He says he's one of the three best pound for pound boxers in the world, and on any given night, he shows skills which can make that claim not seem ludicrous.
Also, another test will not really be clearly graded pass or fail on Monday, and thereafter; can Canelo be a pay-per-view stud, which he's being built to be, and generate buy rates which could make him the wealthiest hitter on the planet, after Floyd Mayweather, if his momentum continues. That's no small if, being that the sports' fans seem to be reaching a point of PPV (and wallet) fatigue, in a world economy which sees the top-tier earners make out hand over fists, while everyone elses' wages remain static.
Fight fans got a better sense of Canelo, and his foe, in the first installment of Showtime's All Access documercial, which ran last week.
The redhead looks the part of the budding mogul, decked out in a crisp suit, and walking to a private jet. Right away, he sends a signal of how he wants to be seen. "The same as Mayweather or Pacquiao, only I choose the most dangerous opponents," he says.
Bravo to that, I say. In a world where fighters are less and less seeking out the stiffest tests, but ceding control of foe choice to timid advisors, or choosing foes, with mobility limitations, or some other deficiency which plays into their hands, Canelo sees himself as an old school sort. He craves the toughest tests, and I dare say, if he keeps up that POV, his status as a next gen superstar will be safe.
He will be faced with a "smart and challenging boxer," as Lara himself puts it. His hand speed, balance, accuracy and vision could indeed prove to be a too-tough challenge for Canelo, if the Mexican can't put his power edge into effect. That power was in full effect when he put his hammers on Alfredo Angulo, in his last outing. That same Angulo who found and touched Lara, and sent him to the mat and put some licks on his which left lingering pain in their wake. This leads me to note that I do believe Canelo, a more advanced in the offense department boxer than Fredo, can too find Lara…but we shall see how that plays out…
We saw how Lara rushed the Canelo-Fredo postfight presser, and injected himself into the mix. "I just want to know when we're going to do it," he said, standing next to the Mexican at the mic, as then Golden Boy boss Richard Schaefer stared at his shoes.
"Are you guys dying to watch us fight?" Canelo asked the assembled, who reacted with mostly muteness. "Yes?" Not so much, he noted, at the time. I dare say the real-deal fight fans were, if not dying, then quite interested in seeing how this style match played out…and to the dismay of some close to him, Canelo demanded this fight be made. On the show, Canelo said Laras' move bothered him, and it pushed him to take the bout.
Next, we see Oscar De La Hoya greeting Canelo, and both men working a press tour. In LA, Canelo says that Lara offended him on Twitter. (Note to fighters seeking a bout--use the Lara 'annoy em till they agree to fight you method'…it can't hurt.) Canelo tells us Oscar told him not to take this fight..and instead of listening, he took it as a challenge…and signed on. Props to him, I say.
Next, Lara checks in with his family; his wife is due a few days after the bout, for the record. We see him getting in Canelos' face during a photo pos-off, and Canelos' trainer Chepo Reynoso promises Canelo will "shut him up."
Then, we see Canelo at chez Reynoso, chowing. Chepo and son Eddy have been the only trainers he's ever known. "We feel like family," the boxer notes.
The loss to Floyd Mayweather is spoken of. No, he won't consider changing trainers, he says. "My decision is to have the same team," he says.
Against Fredo, who knocked down Lara twice, Canelo was in a groove. Head, body, hooks, uppercuts, he was dialed in…We see clips from the impressive showing, which naysayers state came against a used up hitter. Chepo says that Canelo has moved on from the Floyd loss, and his mentality is quite strong.
Then, Lara tells us he has 30 pigeons, and that is his hobby. One pigeon he calls "Canelo." He can identify with the birds, who exult when freed from a cage. In Cuba, child boxers trained like "soldiers," he says. He tried in 2007 to leave his team in Brazil, and they failed. He was locked up for a week, back in Cuba. But he kept the dream alive. Trainer Ronnie Shields says that Lara tried again. With about 25 others, he got on a boat, and went through rough waters to make it out of Cuba. Too many ex boxers in Cuba just stand around and drink, he says, and he didn't want to be that. "I didn't come to this country to get things easily," he states.
Next, we see Oscar visiting Canelo, labeled "his company's most precious asset." ODLH says they are friends and have a business relationship, and that they respect each other. Oscars' woes are touched on; his rehab stint is mentioned. Canelo says that he can see the difference in Oscar. "We are happy and proud of him," he says, and gets more points from me, for his loyalty. Oscar says he was depressed, and he went to rehab to fix "my mind and body, because it was broken." He says he's "ready to take this fight on like there's no tomorrow." He was speaking, I think, about re-taking the reins of his company from Richard Schaefer.
Chepo says the lefty Lara is tough and hungry, no pushover. Canelo says he knows Lara is fast, and a slick counter puncher. "We know he's strong but he's looking fast," says Oscar, while watching a workout. Oscar says Canelo is "special" but Lara is "the real deal."
Lara then gets a hair trim. He and his two boys chill and chat. The little one, 4, says he wants to grow up and be a pickpocket, and all giggle. The Cuban lives in Texas, because Shields lives there. They've been together for 4 years. He notes that Lara beat Austin Trout, in better fashion than Canelo did. "He broke Trout down, there was a mastery how he did it. But when he sits down, it's like Mike Tyson hitting you," he says. "I did it way better than Canelo," Lara says. He says he's a better boxer AND has more heart than Canelo. Fighting words!
Wife Eudy says Lara is a charmer, but not overly macho. They are expecting a baby girl, for the record. She says she panicked when the July 12 date was offered, because July 14 is her due date. They know he can't turn down such a business opportunity, though.
To close, we hear a wrap up about the risk for Canelo, and about the immense reward for the victor. "Two men bound by honor, seeking glory," we hear, from Barry Pepper, from text written by author Mark Kriegel, a new hire by Showtime, to try and get their documercial closer to HBO in terms of quality of writing.
Part II review coming shortly...
Who's the best Mexican boxer today?