Canelo Alvarez Talks About Chasing History, Why Ryan Garcia Is 'Wasting His Talent'

Ahead of his showdown with Caleb Plant, we caught up with the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world to talk about becoming undisputed at 168 and more.

Canelo Alvarez Oct 2021 Treatment Getty

Canelo Alvarez training before meeting Caleb Plant Complex Original Treatment.

Canelo Alvarez Oct 2021 Treatment Getty

As far as press conferences go, Canelo Alvarez’s have been about as must-see as his fights. 

If you caught his post-fight media session following his demolishing of Billy Joe Saunders this past spring, you saw one of the funniest scenes in boxing this year. That’s when Alvarez, in a jovial mood after picking up yet another super middleweight belt, flagrantly and hilariously dismissed Demetrius Andrade after the middleweight champ hijacked his press conference. 

“Man, you fight with nobody,” Alvarez said in English. “Get the fuck outta here.” 

And then in October, in a press conference to kick off the promotion of his latest fight—one with major historical implications—Alvarez touched up his opponent with a quick counter that left Caleb Plant with a cut below his right eye after their face-off got a little too heated. What sparked the fireworks? Plant, who faces Alvarez in a super middleweight showdown Saturday Nov. 6th in Las Vegas (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET), called Canelo a “mother fucker” and Canelo wasn’t about to stand for that kind of disrespect. 

“I’ve never been involved in that type of confrontation before in my career,” Canelo tells Complex Sports. “But there’s a first time for everything.”

That was the first time Plant—the IBF super middleweight title holder who stands in the way of Canelo (56-1-2, 38 KOs) achieving his goal of becoming undisputed champion at 168 pounds—felt the power, precision, and speed of the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world. A huge underdog, Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) will try to prevent Canelo—the WBC, WBO, and WBA super middleweight title holder—from becoming just the sixth undisputed champion in any weight class in the four-belt era. And if you know anything about Canelo, you know he’s all about making history, unlike a lot of other fighters in today’s game. 

A few weeks before Alvarez gets his chance to further cement his already legendary status, we caught up with the four-division champion via Zoom from trainer Eddy Reynoso’s gym in San Diego. Translated from Spanish, Canelo answered questions about chasing belts, his status as the No. 1 draw in the sport, and his serious concerns about lightweight sensation Ryan Garcia. 

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

You do things very differently than other guys in the sport. When did chasing history and legacy become the priority for you?

What I would hope to do is make history in my career and that’s what we’re looking for in this fight. 

But why is it so easy for you to chase history and belts while other guys in the game tend to shy away from that?

It is not easy. I’m always training and I’ve been fighting world champions. I’ve done something that most people haven’t been able to do in a short 11 months which is fight for all four titles. That’s something we look forward to is fighting for all four titles. 

Going back to the press conference from a few weeks ago, have you ever been that angry at one of those before? 

No. For every action, there is a reaction. I’ve never been involved in that type of confrontation before in my career. But there’s a first time for everything. 

So the follow-up to that is if you fucked up Caleb in the press conference what can we expect to see come Nov. 6?

Just imagine. So much more. 

I asked Anthony Joshua before his fight in September about who the biggest draw in boxing is: you or him? He didn’t want to say, he tends to be more diplomatic than other guys. I would say you’re the biggest draw in boxing. Do you feel like you’re the biggest draw in boxing?

I don’t want to be disrespectful to all the fighters. There are many good fighters. I do what I do in the ring and let the people put me where they want to decide to put me in that lineup. 

I bring it up because there are guys—like Shakur Stevenson when I talked to him for a recent story—who want to be like you and run boxing one day. Even though you want to be humble about it, what does it feel like to be the No. 1 draw in boxing? The sport revolves around you, to a degree. 

I feel proud to hear that many want to be like me. At the end of the day, that’s what I aspire to do—inspire and motivate others. But it’s an opinion that others may have. But I’m happy to be an example for others and that motivates me to continue on in this sport. 

When do you know you’ve earned an opponent’s respect once you’ve stepped into the ring? 

I am very confident in my abilities. I know what I can do and I know how to do it well. I know what I have to do entering that ring from the beginning of that first round. I go in showing all that I have. In that first round, I make my opponent respect me. 

But is it a shot? Is it a combination that you land that makes your opponent realize like, “Oh shit, he’s the real deal”?

Everything. From the combos. From that first round when they can’t hit me. When I hit them. I hurt them. Or vice versa when they’re trying to hurt me and they can’t. Everything. 

I heard Eddie Hearn, the chairman of Matchroom Boxing and one of the biggest promoters in the sport who you’ve worked with in the past, say you’re the most level-headed boxer. How do you stay so calm, cool, and collected in a sport that’s incredibly chaotic?

I don’t have an answer for you. I am me. I’m doing what I love to do. I love boxing and this is my life. 

Speaking of being you, we’ve seen more personality out of you over the last several years. To me, one of the funniest things this year was after the Billy Joe Saunders fight when Demetrius Andrade interrupted your press conference and you told him to “Get the fuck out of here” when he asked for a fight. Why has now felt like the right time to show more personality? I don’t know if we see that out of you years ago.

To be honest, there’s a point where you just get annoyed with people jabbing at you verbally and coming at you. They try to offend. At a certain point you have to start reacting, respond. So I think that’s what’s been going on. I’m just responding now. 

But how crazy was it that Andrade just hijacked your press conference? Like the audacity to just do that when you’re the No. 1 guy in the sport. 

To be honest, I think it was more of an embarrassment for him. That’s not an appropriate way to set up a fight. It was my moment and he shouldn’t have stepped in like that. I basically had to respond to him. 

Who excites you to watch in the sport right now? 

I love to see all the fighters who really thrust themselves into the sport. Especially in this gym. This has really been Eddy Reynoso’s school of boxing. I love to be here to help them, support them, and explain to them things from boxer to boxer the feedback Eddy gives them. I’m not a big watcher of boxing. I don’t sit down and watch fights. But I do love to see the fighters out there who are dedicated and disciplined and really want to make the sport a good one. 

I do want to ask you specifically about Ryan Garcia, who just had wrist surgery. Where do you see Ryan going forward because he’s one of the brightest young stars in boxing? 

Look, Ryan has a lot of talent. But to me in my eyes, he’s wasting a lot of time and wasting his talent. I look at him and don’t see him 100 percent dedicated and, to us, that’s a bad signal. We always remind him as a team to come to the gym, to train, and to learn because you need to be in the gym. You’re learning day-by-day, at the very minimum fighting five times a year. When I was beginning my career, I did 15 fights in one year. That’s where I was at the beginning of my career. So definitely he needs to be a little more dedicated. 

We in the media always ask you about the next fight before the next fight. You’re on the verge of making history and could be done with 168. Is 175 the move? Back down to 160? Have you started to plot out what you want to do next? 

Right now we don’t know. We are 100 percent concentrated on this fight in front of us. As I’ve said before, next year I want to fight four times. We’ll see what’s at the table [after this], but I promise you it’ll be worth it and a big fight. 

Who is your dream opponent, now or historically speaking? 

To be honest, I don’t know. Whoever is there to make history, that’s the dream. 

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