‘Canelo’ Alvarez leads Golden Boy’s parade of prospects

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez waits his turn to speak during a news conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez waits his turn to speak during a news conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

(John Gurzinski / AFP/Getty Images)

In his attempt to resurrect Golden Boy Promotions from the onslaught of talent lost to powerful manager Al Haymon, Oscar De La Hoya has sent his three best fighters to competitive bouts in the last seven weeks.

Lucas Matthysse and David Lemiuex have lost, and now De La Hoya’s prized fighter, Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, 25, steps up to the Mandalay Bay ring Saturday night against former four-division champion Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico.

“It’s funny how people are banking on us having this make-or-break fight,” De La Hoya said. “It’s not.

“We have the next superstar. That puts less pressure on us. Canelo only has one loss [to retired, unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr.] [Manny] Pacquiao has far more losses and he’s still a superstar. One loss doesn’t define you. If you handle it right, it makes you a better fighter.”

While Alvarez’s fight is the climax, the entire weekend is intended to showcase how Golden Boy’s stable is being replenished from the losses of unbeaten Haymon champions including heavyweight Deontay Wilder, welterweight Keith Thurman and featherweight Leo Santa Cruz.

On Saturday’s HBO pay-per-view card, Santa Ana featherweight Ronny Rios (24-1, 10 knockouts) opens the show against Puerto Rico’s Jayson Velez.

“It’s a big opportunity to get to bigger opportunities after this,” Rios said. “I would hope to get a title shot in 2016. Obviously, if I’m winning, my promoter is winning too.”

Earlier Saturday, Coachella’s Randy Caballero (22-0, 13 KOs) will defend his International Boxing Federation super-bantamweight belt against England’s Lee Haskins.

“This is my night to shine. I’m going to break him down round by round,” Caballero said. “We have some good up-and-coming fighters. We’re here to make this company go as high as it can.”

On Friday, a smaller Golden Boy card televised by Estrella TV at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is headlined by De La Hoya’s cousin, Diego De La Hoya of Mexicali, and the card includes another sharp prospect, Ireland’s Jason Quigley (8-0, eight KOs).

“It’s another fight on the record, but it gets me that one step closer to my ultimate dream, to what I set out to be as a professional boxer: world champion,” said Quigley, 24, who’s fighting for the sixth time this year following 250 amateur bouts.

None of his fights this year has lasted longer than three rounds.

Quigley is drawing significant attention from his homeland on live streams of his fights, and says his countrymen are traveling to watch him even now – a frenzy seen in the Ultimate Fighting Championship with interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor, who sometimes works out with Quigley in Venice.

“It’s just born in us Irish to get behind each other, something that comes natural,” Quigley said. “We go in crowds and groups and we make a lot of noise. It’s absolutely amazing.”

He aspires to bring a title fight back to Ireland.

Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions “has all these champions now, but where’s their future?” Quigley said. “Golden Boy is investing in the future, us prospects.”

In Friday’s main event, Diego De La Hoya (12-0, seven KOs) will also fight for the sixth time this year when he meets Giovanni Delgado. Trained by Joel Diaz, the super-bantamweight has shown marked progress this year, according to his matchmakers.

“My amateur style has always been fast. Now, I’m learning to be more patient,” Diego De La Hoya said. “Obviously, the last name is huge – synonomous in boxing – but I’m creating my own path. That’s what keeps me hungry, to create my own legacy.”

Said Diaz: “He works hard, is very disciplined, has power and the killer instinct, which you need to be a world champion.”

Now, Oscar De La Hoya just needs the kids to fulfill his plan.

“This is exactly what it takes to build the next generation of young champions,” he said. “This is the perfect platform. The exposure is priceless.”