Go inside Mexican star boxer Canelo Álvarez’s gym, where a champion is molded

Canelo Álvarez shows off his tattoos while training at his gym in San Diego
Canelo Álvarez shows off his tattoos while training at his gym in San Diego.
(Roberto Cortés / Special to L.A. Times en Español)

In a hidden San Diego gym where he has quietly worked for several years, Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez is in the place he enjoys most: his training camp.

Following the express three-round win over Avni Yildirim in February, the Jalisco, Mexico, native took only one week off before taking on his next challenge: training for the showdown against WBO super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs), at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday night.

Coach Eddy Reynoso says Álvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) beating the undefeated Englishman would confirm he is the “best pound-for-pound” boxer and “he has reached the top of the sport.”

Canelo Álvarez trains with Eddy Reynoso in a gym in San Diego
Canelo Álvarez, left, trains with Eddy Reynoso at his gym in San Diego.
(Roberto Cortés / Special to L.A. Times En Español)

In San Diego, the Mexican boxer trains in a modest gym filled with people he’s known for years.

Reynoso noted when a fighter starts to gain fame, coaches “are the first to leave.”

Álvarez’s team is different.

Álvarez was 13 when his brother, Rigoberto, introduced him to Reynoso and his father, Jose “Don Chepo” Reynoso, and loyalty always has been valued by the group.

What would have happened if Reynoso and his father hadn’t crossed paths with Álvarez, molding him into the unified super-middleweight champion?.

“It would have been a lot harder; I may not have reached where I am,” Álvarez said during an interview with the L.A. Times en Español at his training camp before Saturday’s fight.

“They are people who focus more on me than anyone else. They don’t focus so much on the greed and money they can make, as everyone usually does. I think they’re unique people. Thank God he put them in my path. We’ve formed a perfect team to get to where we are. We all have the same goal — to be the best.”



Don Chepo, the most colorful member of Team Canelo, stepped aside for a few months during Álvarez’s training to enjoy the fruits of a long career with his family and protect himself from COVID-19, so all the responsibility for training Álvarez fell to his son.

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Reynoso wasn’t intimidated because he knows he’s at the peak of his career, cornering title fights this year for new World Boxing Council super-featherweight champion Óscar Valdez and WBC interim lightweight champion Ryan García, and also working with former champion Andy Ruiz, among others.

During García’s bout, Álvarez accompanied him in the dressing room and celebrated the victory as a fan.

“He’s the best. For me, it’s going to be the best for many years,” Álvarez said of his coach, manager and, more important, confidante.

Eddy Reynoso, left, helps boxer Canelo Álvarez stretch at his training facility in San Diego.
(Roberto Cortés/ L.A. Times en Español)

“As a person, he’s always very attentive. he asks me, ‘How are you? How do you feel? How’s your personal life going?’ He gives you advice. He doesn’t just take my side, he tells you things you have to listen to. Sometimes he doesn’t tell you things you want to hear, but you have to listen. That’s where the best friends are found.

“When we talk about something, we always talk loudly, without filters at all.”

Reynoso added, “Above all, we are very good friends.“

For Reynoso, discipline, perseverance and avoiding problems have been fundamental to his success and his confidence in Álvarez. He also values passion and dedication to the sport.

“To me, he’s the best. For me, it’s going to be the best for many years.”

— Saul “Canelo” Álvarez on trainer Eddy Reynoso

“I was taught that when you do the work you like, you’re always going to do well. I like to invest a lot in my work. The results speak for themselves,“ Reynoso said.

Reynoso, who at 44 is 14 years older than Álvarez, said he rarely has to yell at his pupil in the ring, because of Álvarez’s discipline, but he did during the two fights against Gennady Golovkin.
Reynoso tried to do that in Álvarez’s ear so that it would not be captured by cameras.



Álvarez said with Reynoso by his side, they have taken a perfect path.

However, Álvarez’s record is not perfect. There is, most notably, a painful defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2013. That defeat, the Jalisco boxer acknowledged, made him sad but taught him many things. Álvarez and Reynoso agree the fight played an important role in the boxer’s journey and if he had faced Mayweather during another time during his career, Álvarez would have defeated him.

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“Without a doubt, he would have beaten him. Just now Floyd’s already a veteran, he’s already older. But five years ago, [Álvarez] would have beaten him or two years after he fought Floyd, [Álvarez] would have beaten him,” Reynoso said.

“But that fight taught him to be a better sportsman, a better person, in and out of the ring. A measured person.”


In addition to Álvarez playing golf, collecting cars, spending time with his family and riding some of the 70 horses and mares in his stable, he likes to lend his help to those in need.

In May 2020, he made a donation to a Guadalajara hospital, providing 950 pieces of protection equipment to protect workers from the coronavirus. In October, he supported a foundation for children with cancer in Puebla, Mexico. In January, a young man from Monterrey asked for help doing a lung transplant and Álvarez posted a video committing to help him.


Those are just a few examples. Álvarez says many of his charitable works never have been published because he doesn’t like spotlighting his altruistic work.

According to Reynoso, Álvarez receives several requests for help every day, but he is especially moved by sick children.

Álvarez said he did not want to form a foundation because he does not help people while looking for a tax deduction. He added he does not help others to gain sympathy or more followers on social media, “because I no longer need any of that.”

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez holds up championship belts after beating Callum Smith
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez holds up championship belts after beating Callum Smith at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, on Dec. 19, 2020.
(Ed Mulholland / Matchroom)

“I help in what I can, selflessly, without the desire to profit from this,” Alvarez said. “But later I’m going to make a well-made foundation. I’d like to add more people, to the sponsors I have, to support a lot more people. Helping is something that fills me with a lot of pride, that makes me feel really good. Whenever I do something like that, I don’t like to talk about it much.”


Álvarez did make one major change to his team, breaking away from promoter Oscar De La Hoya last year after filing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Golden Boy Promotions for breach of contract. The case was settled, and Álvarez began working with another big promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport.

During a recent interview with Graham Bensinger, Álvarez described his reasons for leaving Golden Boy, saying De La Hoya was engaged only in partying and drinking, while the people around him at Golden Boy were looking out only for their own interests.


Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, left, Oscar De La Hoya, center, and Gennady Golovkin pose before a fight in 2017
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, left, Oscar De La Hoya, center, and Gennady Golovkin pose before a fight at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on Sept. 12, 2017, in Las Vegas.
(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

However, in an interview with L.A. Times en Español during his training, Álvarez did not close the door on working with De La Hoya again.

“You must never say never,” Álvarez said. “We’ll see.”

This article first appeared in Spanish on L.A. Times en Español.