Canelo Alvarez’s headstrong approach toward control over his own boxing career and Oscar De La Hoya’s interest as a promoter in maximizing revenue have at times resulted in conflict.
While Alvarez, a former two-division champion, insisted for more than a year he was ready to fight Gennady Golovkin, De La Hoya maintained that his 26-year-old fighter needed time before he was entirely comfortable at 160 pounds — while the promoter also worked shrewdly to amplify public anticipation for the meeting.
Last week, De La Hoya surprised his fighter when he told reporters on a four-stop international press tour that the Sept. 16 bout between Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 knockouts) and three-belt middleweight champion Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas likely would generate a trilogy. Alvarez grimaced at that idea.
“No, there’s only going to be one,” Alvarez said in Spanish last week. “That’s how dominant I feel I’m going to be.”
De La Hoya, who served as interpreter during that conversation, shrugged at Alvarez’s response, satisfied at least in his boxer’s confidence.
“That’s how he feels … ” De La Hoya said.
In October 2015, De La Hoya felt far differently about how any fighter would fare against Golovkin, the champion from Kazakhstan who has won 18 consecutive middleweight title fights and had knocked out 23 consecutive foes before going the distance with co-World Boxing Assn. champion Daniel Jacobs in March.
Golovkin found Lemieux often with his destructive punches, and they ultimately led to a technical-knockout stoppage. In the post-fight scene, the blood appeared entirely drained from De La Hoya’s face.
His stunned expression that night foretold his pause, as he failed to book his fighter against Golovkin a year ago in May, even after Alvarez defeated Miguel Cotto in November 2015.
Instead, as Golovkin and fight fans criticized Alvarez and De La Hoya, Alvarez knocked out former 140-pound champion Amir Khan in another 155-pound fight in May 2016, then beat 154-pound champion Liam Smith before a crowd of more than 50,000 at AT&T Stadium outside Dallas.
While promising to fight Golovkin, Alvarez then took on rival countryman Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a 164-pound fight in May and won every round in taking a unanimous decision.
De La Hoya disagreed with the perception that he was holding back a fighter who aspired to immediately meet Golovkin’s challenge.
“No, you’re wrong. Nothing like that happened,” De La Hoya said.
Alvarez spoke animatedly on the subject, raising his voice to emphasize his thinking during the time when Golovkin accused him of ducking.
As a fighter, De La Hoya routinely sought the biggest names offering the greatest purses, particularly later in his career.
From that experience, De La Hoya’s attention to career timing improved, and Alvarez said he appreciates that knowledge, and saying it’s one of the main reasons De La Hoya is his promoter.
“One-hundred percent,” Alvarez said in English to underline the sincerity of his point.
De La Hoya was bombarded for being overprotective of his greatest revenue producer during the pre-Golovkin signing.
“What’s most important is that Canelo was still fighting at 154,” De La Hoya said. “That’s very, very important. As a team, we have a plan. Everybody else [might] not be happy with our plan, but as long as we’re in sync, that’s what matters. Canelo knows his body. We know when he’s ready.
“Does he want to fight everybody and be the best? Yes, that’s who he is. But we as a team chose to make this fight happen in September of this year.”
“[Golovkin’s] the one who had to worry about me,” he said. “I’m going into 160 now and I’m fighting the best at 160. I’m doing what I always said: ‘I want to fight the best.’”
De La Hoya, the “Golden Boy” 1992 Olympic champion from East Los Angeles, said Alvarez is acting no different than he did when he was navigating his own career.
“When you’re the attraction, you’re the superstar, you call the shots,” De La Hoya said. “Canelo’s always had his career right on track. The fact that everyone’s always wanted to call him out doesn’t mean he has to go and oblige it by their rules.
“His career is his career. Let everyone else worry about him. He doesn’t have to worry about anyone else.”
Armed by that wisdom and philosophy at age 26 helps make Alvarez a different breed than even De La Hoya, who admitted that out-of-the-ring distractions such as women and partying shortened his career, which at the end was marked by losses to Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins and Manny Pacquiao.
When De La Hoya first signed Alvarez, he vowed to urge the fighter — who’s been a pro since age 15 — to adhere to a straight-and-narrow path.
“That’s what he’s doing,” De La Hoya said. “He’s a smart man who knows what he wants.”
Alvarez said he appreciates the insight that comes from his promoter’s experiences — good and bad.
Tie that in with Alvarez’s loyalty to his original trainers, Eddy and Chepo Reynoso, and there’s a better understanding why Alvarez is thought to be under contract with Golden Boy Promotions through 2020.
“We always have been [strongly connected] and there’s never been a problem,” De La Hoya said. “It’s all about doing the job correctly, being loyal, doing the right thing for the fighter. That’s why I became a promoter, to do the right thing. Anybody can speculate or say anything they want [about us], but we’re as good as gold.”
Said Alvarez: “We’re now weeks away from this fight … I’m very, very excited, somewhat obsessed.
“My team and I have come to the conclusion that this is 14 years of hard work that’s going to pay off on Sept. 16.”