LAS VEGAS — Over the past decade, a lot of things have changed for Canelo Alvarez. He’s gone from the hottest prospect in boxing to the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. His bank account has swelled exponentially and he’s now married with two children who he loves with all his heart. He’s also picked up an extracurricular activity with golf and has polished up on his English for his media obligations.
While many things change, one thing remains the same: He loves to fight.
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And the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world doesn’t necessarily need a reason to fight. Sure, there’s the massive paydays that soar over $30 million per fight and the world titles that he collects to continue his journey to becoming one of the greatest boxers to ever live. But it’s the WBA (Super), WBO and WBC champion’s adoration of the sweet science that keeps him coming back to the squared circle to put his talent on display. As he always says, “No boxing, no life.”
However, if you poke the proverbial bull, you’ll most certainly get the horns. Rather than make the science sweet, he relishes the opportunity to hurt his opponent and make them pay for any previous transgressions. And that’s what IBF champion Caleb Plant has done ahead of their Nov. 6 clash at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to determine the first undisputed super middleweight champion in boxing history.
Canelo and Plant got into a scuffle at a pre-fight news conference on Sept. 21 where words were exchanged, hands were thrown and Plant was left with a cut beneath his eye. It was rare to see the usually composed Canelo act out of character, but he grew weary of Plant’s implications that he was a drug cheat and it all culminated when the IBF champion called the Mexican superstar a “motherf—ker” during a stare-down.
The incident led to a routine stare-down being nixed at Wednesday’s final news conference, much to the chagrin of Canelo. And although he continues to play it cool as if he’s unbothered by the September fracas, it’s pretty obvious that he’s salivating over the idea of getting to legally punish Plant for his sins inside of a boxing ring on Saturday night.
“It’s so different when you’re in the ring, so I don’t really take anything from our altercation at the first press conference,” Canelo said at the dais. He’s remained steadfast that his emotions won’t play a role in how the fight plays out. But the more that you listen to Canelo talk, the more you realize that he’s more like a cold-blooded contract killer awaiting his moment to spring into action.
To be clear, the idea that Canelo would get a chance to make history was initially more than enough to excite him for his fourth fight in 12 months.
“Making history is what I want,” Canelo said to a group of reporters after the news conference as he aims to collect the fourth and final 168-pound title to become the undisputed champion in less than a year. “This is what I do. This is my life.”
Owning 15 major world titles across four different weight classes is already a remarkable feat for a 31-year-old in his prime. But considering that he would be the first Mexican fighter to become undisputed, the stakes have never been higher for Canelo, who affirms that becoming undisputed would be the greatest accomplishment of his career.
“Just think, five fighters in the history of boxing have accomplished this and I’m going to be the sixth,” he said.
But, again, Canelo loves to fight. There’s something a little sadistic about his approach to hurting people. He rarely, if ever, wears his emotions on his sleeve. That was until Caleb Plant got him to act out of character.
And Canelo keeps his receipts.
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Take, for instance, Billy Joe Saunders. Ahead of their May clash, Saunders ran down Canelo with his words, disparaging him at every turn. Canelo didn’t say much but let his hands do the talking when he brutalized Saunders and eventually fractured his orbital bone, which led to an eighth-round stoppage. Canelo let Saunders do all the talking, took a mental note and paid him back with interest in a brutal display of power punching.
When Gennadiy Golovkin had some words about Canelo ahead of their 2017 rematch, the Mexican surprisingly met one of the sport’s biggest punchers in the middle of the ring and took the fight to him, winning a decision. He may not have gotten the knockout he desired, but he made a statement.
Canelo plans to do the same with Plant, and if that means bludgeoning his foe beyond recognition until he or his corner waves the white flag, so be it.
“This is different and a lot more personal because of what happened in Los Angeles,” Canelo said. “All the talk, all the s—t he says. That’s why. He crossed the line. And maybe too much. That’s why it’s personal.”
Canelo has predicted that the stoppage will happen between Rounds 7 and 9, something he doesn’t often do when it comes to fights.
“I don’t have anything to prove to myself, but he’s going to feel what I have to prove to him,” Canelo told Sporting News. “There’s going to be a knockout for sure.”
The enjoyment he takes in that statement is almost frightening as he walks away, smiling.
He knows what he plans to do to Caleb Plant on Saturday night. And it looks like he’ll enjoy every single moment in the ring that he has to execute his game plan.
“This fight is going to be history,” Canelo said. “You’re going to be witnessing something that you’re going to remember for a long time.”
Something tells us that what we’ll remember isn’t who is holding those four belts but how it happens.