The Mexican superstar and consensus pound for pound king explains why Saturday night's SHOWTIME pay-per-view headliner versus Caleb Plant is personal.
In a flash, Saul “Canelo” Álvarez was whisked back there again, back to when he was reminded how different he looked, how he didn’t belong. Back to when kids like him shouldn’t have red hair and freckles, back to when his feet ached selling fruit popsicles with his father on the arid streets of Juanacatlan, Jalisco, in Mexico.
When Caleb Plant made what Álvarez thought was a slight to his mother during their now-infamous face-off on September 21 in Los Angeles, California, the bottled rage came tumbling out. Canelo squinted and the pained, bullied redheaded kid who fought every day on the dusty streets of Guadalajara resurfaced.
On Saturday, Nov. 6, expect a reappearance when Álvarez takes on Plant for the undisputed super middleweight world championship in a Premier Boxing Champions event live on SHOWTIME Pay-Per-View (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from the MGM Grand Garden Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Álvarez (56-2-1, 38 KOs) will be defending the WBC/WBO/WBA super middleweight titles and “Sweethands” Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) is the reigning IBF 168-pound world champion.
Both will be fighting to make history—as the first undisputed super middleweight world champion in the four-belt era.
Álvarez is fighting for a little more. Universally recognized as the world’s pound-for-pound best, he’s fighting for a country and a legacy that he’s hoping goes beyond his fighting days, which began before he ever put on boxing gloves.
While growing up in Juanacatlan, Álvarez was constantly taunted for his light skin and red hair, inherited from his mother and now his trademark, by other children. Every day was filled with anxiety. Every day was a fight. It stirred hostility in Álvarez.
He swore, as he took up boxing, that he would never take abuse again—nor hear any of it when it came to his mother.
It’s what triggered him when he faced Plant that Tuesday afternoon.
“Some things never leave you, and it’s why I work so hard every day,” Álvarez said. “I know where I come from, what it took to get here and why I want more. I was raised poor and you can say the poor kid is still there. I learned from my father and my brother (Rigoberto) about working hard and staying disciplined.
“I’m very proud of my Mexican roots. It’s why it’s important to be remembered in history as a great Mexican champion. It’s why this fight is very important to me for Mexico. This is one of the most important fights of my life. I’m taking it very seriously. Winning means a lot.”
“ I’m very proud of my Mexican roots. ” Unified WBA/WBC/WBO World Super Middleweight Champion - Canelo Álvarez
Beating Plant comes with a caveat.
This is a riled up Canelo.
Álvarez, 31, and his trainer, Eddy Reynoso, will stay with a game plan. But it’s a scheme threaded with a heavy dose of punishment attached.
“I need to stay disciplined in the ring,” Canelo stressed. “But this is new for me, to have this much bad blood going into a big fight. It’s very different. It’s definitely the most animosity I’ve had with anyone I’ve faced.
“I’m sticking with my prediction of a knockout before the eighth. The first couple of rounds will be difficult, but as the fight progresses, I’m going to get him.
“I said what I had to say at our press conference. I don’t have anything else to say about that. He crossed the line. The secret to me and Eddy’s relationship is discipline. He can’t take me out of what I want to do. My mind is so strong and I’m going to use that to my advantage.
Even so, Álvarez isn’t overlooking the challenge he faces on Saturday night.
“Caleb is a good fighter, but he’s not a complete fighter like me. I can do various things he can’t do. I can be aggressive, I can counterpunch, I can move. At the end of the day, I know I have to be a complete fighter. That’s what I’ve learned from Eddy.
“Caleb has a good jab; he moves very well. But it’s nothing I haven’t seen before. He’s never faced anyone like me. The most important thing for me is to make history and become the first undisputed Mexican super middleweight champion. It means a lot to me, and my country.”
Álvarez’s focus right now is solely on Plant, and he’s not deviating from that. So, when asked about his future, he began and ended at Saturday, November 6.
If Alvarez succeeds against Plant, other possibilities await. There is two-time super middleweight champion David Benavidez or WBC World Middleweight Champion Jermall Charlo.
“Canelo always wants more. He screams for more. That’s always who he was and who he is,” said Reynoso.
“He is not satisfied with what he’s accomplished. He wants to accomplish way more. That’s always been his mindset.”
Since he was selling fruit popsicles on street corners.
For a closer look at Canelo vs Plant, check out our fight night page.
- Canelo vs Plant