With Floyd Mayweather officially retired and Manny Pacquiao on a steep decline due to age, the number one question in the boxing world over the last year has been: Who will replace these legends as the face of boxing?
Although he’s not a house hold name in America just yet, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KOs) has emerged from a group of boxers jockeying for the top spot to take over that spot on the mantel. If you don’t believe me or Canelo’s Boxing Hall of Fame promoter Oscar De La Hoya, all you have to do is look at the numbers to get the facts.
Since Mayweather’s last fight on September 12, 2015 against Andre Berto which recorded 375,00 Pay-Per-View buys, only Canelo’s fights against Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto last November at 900,00 PPV buys and former junior welterweight champion Amir Khan this past May at 460,00 buys have eclipsed “Money” May’s last fight.
Canelo prepares to face his next challenge in WBO light-middleweight champion Liam “Beefy” Smith (23-0-1, 13 KOs) whom he will fight on Mexican Independence Day Weekend on September 17 at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington, Texas. The man, who is universally known for his tough hard punching Mexican fighting style along with his cinnamon red hair, is very cognizant of his spot in the world of boxing and everything which comes with it.
“It’s a very big responsibility for me to be in this position, but I’m very happy and honored to be here,” Alvarez said to Blitz Weekly in an exclusive interview. “I’m very considerate of the people who have supported me which helped me get into this position. That’s why one of my motivations is to be 100 percent committed to the sport that I love and train very hard to be the best at.”
In addition to possessing the talent which has allowed him to defeat everyone he’s fought on the big stage other than the aforementioned Mayweather, Canelo has a massive and very loyal fan base. Another key ingredient to Canelo’s success is the business and personal relationship he has developed with De La Hoya over the years. As the cash cow of boxing from the late 90’s into the mid 2000’s, De La Hoya consistently produced around 1 million PPV buys per fight to develop the blueprint on what it takes to be the face of boxing.
While Canelo is his own man and is doing a great job of creating his own path, he admits having De La Hoya as a major resource as well as a member of his team but also being his friend is something he holds close to his heart.
“I’ve always had a good relationship with Oscar, and I definitely consider him a part of my team,” Canelo said. “Our relationship has definitely gotten stronger over time, and I greatly appreciate that fact.”
As the Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, De La Hoya is always applying his tricks of the trade to make Canelo the biggest star of stars in boxing every chance he gets. If you listen to any of his press conferences concerning Canelo, you might walk away thinking the Mexican superstar can beat any fighter regardless of weight class.
But when you take out all the swagger and bravado from De La Hoya’s over the top comments about Canelo, one can see he truly feels his friend and protégé is the current established king of boxing and should stay on top of his throne for a very long time.
“I strongly believe that at the age of 26, Canelo is a bigger star and a better fighter compared to any fighter out there today.” De La Hoya said. “The best thing about Canelo is that his best years and best fights are yet to come and I’m just glad to be a part of his team and a friend.”
While many in the boxing world are looking to see what Canelo’s PPV numbers will look like after fighting a relatively unknown fighter in a stadium which can be scaled to seat 80,000 for boxing as an official sign of the passing of the torch in status for Canelo, De La Hoya feels pundits are looking for something that already occurred last November when Canelo defeat Cotto to become the lineal and Ring Magazine’s middleweight champion of the world.
“Well, the passing of the torch has already taken place – with Mayweather being retired and Pacquiao almost retired, Canelo is the face of boxing now,” De La Hoya said. “He’s proven it with ticket sales. He’s proven it with Pay-Per-Views, and he’s going to prove it once again by outselling Manny Pacquiao at AT&T Stadium.”
The numbers and facts point to Canelo being the ultimate “A-side” of boxing for years to come.
Although he has huge fan bases in boxing crazed states such as Texas and California, one thing which has kept Canelo from blowing up over here in America is the fact he doesn’t speak English in public often.
Much like Pacquiao ten years ago, Canelo has a very captivating and likeable personality but must get a handle of the English language if he ever plans on being the cross over star he has the potential to be. Despite not talking about it often in public, Canelo wants it to be known that he’s working toward doing what it takes to reach his potential of being that cross over star his fans want him to be.
“Of course being a cross over star is the ultimate goal and one of the reasons why I’m doing what I do and love,” Canelo said. “Being main stream is something I want to accomplish in my career, and I feel I have a lot of time to get there since I’m only 26 years old and already building towards that.”
A quick way for Canelo to overcome the language barrier, captivate the general American public and quickly turn into a cross over star is to simply put on a mega-fight with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. The unified WBA (Super), WBC, IBF and IBO middleweight has knocked out 23 opponents in a row and in some circles is known as the “Boogey Man” of boxing due to being the least called out fighter in the world.
After his spectacular knockout of Khan and with “GGG” ringside, a very pumped up Canelo called out Golovkin which ramped up speculation they would fight this year. When the posturing and boxing politics were finally over, Canelo and Golovkin’s teams tentatively plan on having the two superstars go at it next September.
If the fight is ever made, it has the potential to be the biggest fight since Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.
I’m under the school of thought that the fight has to get made eventually, because if Canelo is truly the face of boxing; it’s his responsibility to take on the world class challenge that Golovkin presents. Unfortunately for me and boxing fans around the world, the man who is the biggest star in the boxing game didn’t convey that same sentiment during our interview.
“I know it’s a fight people want to see, but it’s definitely not a fight I have to have to be a part of my legacy,” he said. “In the end, GGG needs me; I don’t need GGG because I’ve already made history, and that’s why I’m in this blessed position that I’m in.”
I’m not so sure that anyone agrees with that.