Q&A WITH SAUL "CANELO" ALVAREZ AND PROMOTER OSCAR DE LA HOYA
Alvarez wants to reclaim Cinco De Mayo from Floyd Mayweather
Promoter Oscar De La Hoya: Let me introduce to you now, he is Canelo's manager and trainer, to say a few words on how preparation is going and counting down the last few days of training camp Jose "Chepo" Reynoso.
Alvarez's trainer, Jose Reynoso: We're very happy, very optimistic with the work that Saul's been doing. He's been working very hard, very happy. And we're really happy with what has been done and looking forward to July 12th.
O. De La Hoya: Now, I would like to introduce to you, to all the media, one of the most compelling fighters on the planet today, a former champion and still just 23 years old, known for his exciting style and charismatic demeanor. He's been a professional since 2005, and he won the WBC junior middleweight title in 2011, and successfully defended it five times. He's back on track with a March 2014 technical knockout win over Alfredo Angulo, and now making a huge statement for July 12th, facing the very difficult Erislandy Lara. Let me introduce to you the Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, Saul, "El Canelo" Alvarez.
Canelo Alvarez: Good afternoon to everybody. I just want to let you know I'm very happy. I'm happy that the fight's right around the corner, and I want to let you know that I'm ready. I'm ready for that great night.
Q: The question is for Saul. You mentioned that you've chosen opponents, more dangerous opponents than both Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. Do you think that's going to put you even at a higher plateau, at a higher level in the future?
Canelo: No, the question was asked to me that I was in a position to pick opponents similar to Floyd and Manny, and my response was, look, I pick the most dangerous, the best fights because at the end of the day I fight for the fans and I want to give them the best fights out there. As far as getting further out in my career and reaching new heights, you know, by fighting the toughest fights, by fighting the best fighters out there, that's how I fulfill myself, taking on the biggest challenges. And time will tell.
Q: Canelo, you know how the passion in the Mexican fans are for futbol, soccer, a victory on the 12th for you, will that give us a little bit of satisfaction that Mexico was eliminated and give us that sense of patriotism?
Canelo: Yes, of course. And when it comes to World Cup Soccer we're all right there with the patriotism following our country, and I'm hoping that July 12th my victory will give all of my countrymen the same satisfaction as well and keep them happy.
Q: The question is for Oscar and Canelo. What do you guys think of Mayweather taking over these dates so important to Mexico, like September, like May, dates that have in the past meant dates of Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar De La Hoya, and do you see in the future these dates once again becoming dates, like Canelo Alvarez or even Abner Mares, who's on the card?
O. De La Hoya : Saul "Canelo" Alvarez has given me strict orders, obviously he wants to follow in the footsteps of the great champions hailing from Mexico like Julio Cesar Chavez, fighters that have started the tradition of fighting Cinco de Mayo, started the tradition of fighting in September. Canelo now being a star of his own and a big draw and a person who the fans adore, and me, as his promoter, it is my obligation to do what's best for the fighter. So we're obviously focusing 100% on Erislandy Lara and then we will be sitting down with Saul Canelo Alvarez and plan out his future.
Canelo: I want to retake those dates and bring them back. Those dates are Mexican dates, they're Mexican independence dates, and yes, for next year I will be fighting, I want to be fighting on those dates.
Q: What now do you expect to see in what you learned from Mayweather, building off the momentum from Angulo, what do you expect to show us tactically against Lara that shows your improvement?
Canelo: Lara and his camp have their strategy and they're working their game plan. But I'm comfortable with mine. I'm working very hard. I'm working for this fight. Every fight is different. You prepare for every opponent differently. And I'm very confident that come July 12th once we're in the ring all the other stuff goes out the window and it's just him and I up in the ring. And that's what I'm preparing for, and that's what's going to take care of business on the 12th.
Q: Oscar, can you weigh in on that? I know you actually stated that you were concerned about him taking this fight and in fact didn't want this fight necessarily for him. What about Canelo, has changed your mind? Do you expect to see a better Canelo than the one you saw against Floyd and Angulo?
O. De La Hoya: Yes, when people say I didn't want this fight for him, obviously it wasn't the first choice. As a promoter you don't want the most difficult fight out there for him. But this is what Canelo's all about, ultimately it's his decision, and his decision is a very calculated decision. He's confident in his abilities, and he wants to fight the very best. That's the bottom line. And me as a promoter and me as an ex-fighter, I look at it in two ways. Here I was as a fighter fighting the very best, just like Canelo's doing, and as a promoter this wasn't my first choice. But you have to go with what the fighter says, with what the fighter feels. And this is what is most admirable of Canelo Alvarez is that he wants to please the fans. He wants to give the fight fans the most difficult fights out there.
Q: Have you talked to Canelo since he decided, and you've all decided, that this is the fight he's going to take and kind of gotten a glimpse of what he thinks he can do in this fight? And if so, I guess not without revealing too many secrets, what do you think you're going to see in terms of improvement?
O. De La Hoya: Well, obviously Canelo's a fighter who continues to improve, who continues to grow. He is a fighter who has tremendous, tremendous abilities inside the ring. We feel that with Austin Trout Canelo saw things in Austin Trout, we saw things in Austin Trout, and the same here with Erislandy Lara, yes, he's very difficult and it's a difficult style, it's a tough test in front of him, but like we saw something with Austin Trout you always see something with Erislandy Lara, you see things that obviously Canelo can do and take advantage of. But only the fighter can tell you. The fighter can tell you exactly what he saw and what makes him believe that he can beat him.
Q: Canelo, Erislandy says that the Angulo that you fought was a lesser Angulo than the one he fought. Tell us, was that an improved Canelo Alvarez, or a lesser Angulo, as Lara said?
Canelo: It doesn't matter what they say. They can say whatever they want. I'm not going to lose sleep over that. I know what I did. I know I did a very good fight. But that fight's behind us. That fight's in the past. Now I'm preparing for the next fight and for the future.
Q: This is a great matchup, but the fight got made at 154 pounds, I hadn't heard from Canelo, from his own words as to why he was not interested to fight for the title belt that Lara has.
O. De La Hoya: This fight is not about a title. This fight is about honor and glory.
Q: I'm wondering, given that it's going to be a little bit over the junior middleweight limit [contract liit of 155 pounds compared to the junior middleweight limit of 154], as was the fight against Angulo, is it just as the fights go along, is Canelo, is he thinking that with each passing fight that his future is really going to be as a middleweight? Is he having trouble making 154, and does he see big things as a middleweight in the future?
Canelo: No, I feel very comfortable at 154, and I'll be here for the next few years, if not the rest of my career. I don't know yet. It's when my body tells me otherwise that it's time to move then we'll do it. But I'm very comfortable right now at 154.
Q: I don't think that Canelo has a lot of experience against left-handed fighters at this point, so I'm wondering, when he thinks about it or when he's been training for the fight, what are his views of what kind of issues that stance could cause him, if any, because Lara's such a technical guy anyway.
Canelo: Definitely, he's a very good, slick southpaw, a very tricky southpaw, a good one. But I've never had problems with southpaws, I've been able to adapt. And this won't be the exception. Thank God, I've always been good with southpaws.
Q: Is this opponent anything like AustinTrout in his mind, as he's viewing the videos or scouted him on his own, or heard from his trainers, are there similarities between the two? And in the Trout fight did he learn anything about how to fight against that kind of fighter?
Canelo: No, definitely we've seen improvement. Obviously, I improve on every fight and I gain experience, I get better. and without an exception this isn't going to be anything different. We feel very confident and very comfortable.
Q: Does Canelo view the fight between himself and Lara as, although no title belt's at stake and one pound over the limit, but basically the winner of this fight is the best fighter in the world as a junior middleweight?
S. Alvarez: Yes, without a doubt he's one of the best fighters out there in the world in this weight division, so the winner of this fight will, without a doubt, be the best fighter in the division.
Q: Oscar, I'd like you, if you could, to weigh in on that also. Do you think that the winner of this fight really has a stranglehold on being called the best junior middleweight in the world, even though Floyd could come back and even though the fight's one pound over the weight limit?
O. De La Hoya: Absolutely. This is a junior middleweight fight, and you have the number one and number two guy in the world, so absolutely the winner will be considered the best 154 pound champion.
Q: What do you, as the promoter, view as the next step for the winner of this fight?
O. De La Hoya: We haven't even discussed it. We haven't even talked about it. The focus is 100 percent on Lara. After the fight, we will either make an announcement, or just sit down and discuss it with Canelo and his team, and come out with a plan. This fight is so difficult and dangerous that we cannot look past Erislandy Lara. So, no, we are not looking past him right now. Canelo is solely focused on Lara.
Q: Because you complained about his attitude throughout the promotion for this fight, do you feel his attitude to be genuine, or do you think he's just trying to get inside your head? In other words, do you think he doesn't like you, or is he just trying to psych you out before fight time?
Canelo: I'm not going to get into his games. If I didn't want the fight, the fight wouldn't be happening. The fight is here because I wanted the fight. And on July 12th we're going to see who hits who.
Q: Throughout the promotion of this fight, Canelo, you've said in the press that this fight has become personal with the comments that Lara has made. And I have to ask you, is that just promotion, or do you generally have a dislike towards Erislandy Lara?
Canelo: No, this is real. This is very personal. You guys know me. That's not my character to be promoting and be talking for promotional issues. This is personal. He [Lara] offended me. He offended my person. He offended Mexican boxing. So, yes, it's very personal.
Q: How does it make you feel that you're now in the talks and the names with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao as the top pay-per-view stars in boxing?
Canelo: I'm very happy. I'm very proud, because we have to show the world that us as Latinos, us as Mexicans, we can be at the top as well. So, yes, I'm very happy for that.
Q: I just want to get your official prediction for the fight. Do you see this fight going the distance?
Canelo: Yes, exactly the fight is near. And you know what, we're ready, we're prepared. I can't really give you if the knockout comes, but I can guarantee you this, that we're going to come out with a hand raised.
O. De La Hoya: Thank you. Thank you very much. That was the last question of this conference call... The grand arrivals will be Tuesday at the MGM [in Las Vegas], so we're looking forward to that. We have all the festivities all during the week. So, I'm looking forward to that, to spend time with the press, to spend time with the fans and the fighters. We will see you next week. Thank you very much.
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Also on the show, Abner Mares returns to the ring to face Puerto Rico's Jonathan Oquendo in a ten-round featherweight bout. In the pay-per-view opening bout, Johan Perez defends his interim WBA 140-pound belt against Mauricio Herrera in a twelve-round match-up. Also, Juan Manuel Lopez meets Francisco Vargas in a ten-round super featherweight contest. Tickets are still available. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Tickets also are available for purchase at www.mgmgrand.com or www.ticketmaster.com