A day after word arrived from the mountains above Mexico City that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is in supreme shape, Canelo Alvarez on Wednesday delivered his counterpunches.
In an impressive show of fast, powerful punches and cardio endurance that could decide the May 6 pay-per-view bout at Las Vegas’ sold-out T-Mobile Arena, Alvarez staged his media-day workout while tipping his hand about fight strategy.
After a session that featured rapid power punches onto the mitts of trainer Eddy Reynoso, Alvarez told The Times he intends to win that way in the 164-pound catch-weight bout against his Mexican rival, a former middleweight world champion.
“Speed, power … and talent,” former two-division champion Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 knockouts) said in English as he exited San Diego’s House of Boxing.
In Mexico, Chavez’s sparring partner Marco Reyes passed word to his veteran promoter Don Chargin that Chavez (50-2-1, 32 KOs) has transformed under new trainer Nacho Beristain.
“[Reyes] says [Chavez] looks fantastic. He knows because they’ve fought already. He says Chavez is down [close to] the weight already, that his body looks completely different, that he’s working very hard,” Chargin said. “It’s going to make for a hell of a fight.”
Alvarez didn’t express any sign of distress at the report.
“I hope so, so there’s no excuses after the fight,” Alvarez said through a Spanish-language interpreter. “And so the public can get a great fight. I’m ready for anything. I’m a very strong fighter as well.”
Oscar De La Hoya, who promotes Alvarez, said Chavez’s commitment to conditioning makes the buildup to May 6 “nerve-racking,” since De La Hoya said he’s planned to restart negotiations with Gennady Golovkin’s promoter May 7 for a September mega-fight.
“When we signed this fight, there was part of me that said Canelo will walk right through him, but right now, hearing Chavez is looking phenomenal, I feel it’s going to be a very difficult matchup for Canelo,” De La Hoya said. “But we have full confidence that he’s ready. Hearing all these stories from people who know firsthand that Chavez is looking incredible … he’ll be in tip-top shape. His style is going to be different because of Nacho Beristain. Canelo will have to adjust the first three, four rounds.”
De La Hoya said the bout will help advance Alvarez’s bid to defeat unbeaten Golovkin (37-0), calling Chavez’s ultimate advantage “the strength. Golovkin is brute strength. So fights like this help Canelo.”
After watching Alvarez work out, De La Hoya described the display as “a small taste” of what will come May 6.
“That’s exactly what they’re working on: the speed. But as you can see, there’s power. Chavez is not the fastest fighter out there. He’s durable. He can take a punch. He’s the bigger guy and the weight is a huge benefit. But [Alvarez’s] speed with the power, that’s going to be interesting, and wait till he wears little, small gloves. It can only increase,” De La Hoya said.
The intrigue is about how the tension between Mexico’s two most popular fighters, Alvarez and Chavez, and the dynamic between Chavez and his legendary, demanding father will influence the bout, De La Hoya said.
“These types of fights bring out the best in you,” De La Hoya said. “Chavez Sr. can’t go into the ring. And Chavez Jr. is thinking, ‘Am I fighting for my father or am I fighting for myself?’
“There’s these voices in my ear constantly, reminding me I’m the son of the legend. That’s going to be interesting to see how that pans out in the ring. I don’t know how Chavez Jr. is going to get into the ring, thinking and hearing those voices.”
Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire