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Column: Canelo Alvarez insults Daniel Jacobs’ mother as weigh-in gets physical, then personal

Canelo Alvarez v Daniel Jacobs - Weigh-in
Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs get into a shoving match as Golden Boy Promoter Oscar De La Hoya (with belt) intervenes during their weigh-in at T-Mobile Arena on Friday in Las Vegas.
(Al Bello / Getty Images)

Decry the lack of class. Condemn the vulgarity. Go ahead and accuse Canelo Alvarez of acting.

Just don’t question whether Alvarez’s words Friday afternoon were necessary. They absolutely were.

“I’m going to say this in Spanish so everyone can understand because everyone here is Mexican,” Alvarez said in his native language.

He then made a crude remark about opponent Daniel Jacobs’ mother that can’t be published, not in English or Spanish, not even by a degenerate sports columnist.

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And with that, everything changed.

T-Mobile Arena came alive. There was finally some buzz, some electricity in the desert air. For the first time this week, there was a feeling of immediacy to the violence anticipated in the middleweight championship showdown Saturday between Alvarez and Jacobs.

What unfolded at the weigh-in was a reminder of the brutality of the task the fighters are about to undertake.

The pleasantries and compliments they exchanged over the preceding days wouldn’t make their upcoming confrontation any less awful. They might as well let their speech reflect what they were about to do to each other.

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From a promotional standpoint, the words came about a week too late.

Boxing audiences demand a sense of danger. More refined viewers might appreciate a defensively inclined fighter’s ability to minimize the effects of an opponent’s savagery, but such admiration is also inextricably linked to violence.

Until the weigh-in Friday, the promotion for the fight was characterized by a mutual respect on the part of the fighters that bordered on sickening. As much as fight officials argued the absence of trash talking was refreshing, the reality was that Alvarez and Jacobs were failing to generate the level of interest a fight of this caliber deserved.

Jacobs said to Alvarez at the final news conference Wednesday, “Let’s put on a good show, my brother,” as if they were about to stage a two-man play about human rights.

Most spectators lack the imagination or knowledge of the sport required to understand that a person can be both a gentleman and a gladiator, how a well-adjusted individual capable of detaching another grown man from his senses could coldheartedly exercise that ability.

About 24 hours before the most important fight of the year, Alvarez and Jacobs reminded potential customers they are in the business of hurting others. Rather than use punches, as they is their customary practice, they used words.

Alvarez disrobed to his underwear and weighed in at 159½ pounds and Jacobs at the middleweight limit of 160.

They slipped on their sweatpants and came face to face for the traditional prefight staredown.

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Alvarez and Jacobs pressed foreheads. Jacobs thrust his head down. Alvarez shoved Jacobs with both hands.

Promoters and trainers stepped between them.

As Alvarez and Jacobs pointed and screamed at each other while security guards held them back, public address announcer Michael Buffer reminded the crowd of when and where their fight was taking place.

Jacobs’ promoter, Eddie Hearn, could be seen laughing in the background. Hearn knows what is good for business.

In an on-stage interview that was heard over the arena’s sound system, Jacobs said, “Emotions flying high. I ain’t never back down from a challenge in my life.”

He mentioned he was from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville, after which he declared, “I feel like I’m the best middleweight in the world and that … right there, he’s going to get it tomorrow.”

Alvarez smirked.

“He’s scared,” he said in Spanish before insulting Jacobs’ mother.

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Asked about how Jacobs boasted he would take his championship belts, Alvarez replied, “He can try. He won’t be able to.”

A segment of viewers almost certainly found this childish, even contrived. This wasn’t for them.

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This was for the person who might subscribe to a streaming service to watch two world-class athletes do unspeakable things to each other.

And this was for the fighters themselves, as they were able to release tension that was gradually building up inside them from the time they signed on to the fight in January.

While the public was lulled into indifference by their low-key demeanors, Alvarez and Jacobs knew as much as anyone of the harm the other could inflict. Alvarez was mindful of Jacobs’ right hand, long jab and ability to switch into a southpaw stance on a moment’s notice. Jacobs was equally aware of Alvarez’s unmatched talent at throwing several power punches in fluid succession.

Their outbursts at the weigh-in were obscene acknowledgments of the danger they will be in once they walk into the ring Saturday night.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

Follow Dylan Hernandez on Twitter @dylanohernandez


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