NOTE: The following account may be merely the fevered dream of a boxing journalist today, but who can say whether it will be reality or not ten years from now?
In one of the most impressive two-sport accomplishments in history, Hall of Fame boxing champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez can now claim to also be among the world's top pound for pound golfers.
Alvarez, age 41, defeated his rival and fellow San Diego resident Xander Schauffele, age 38, to win the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Local fans packed the galleries to see their two hometown golf heroes duking it out on Sunday hole by hole until Alvarez began to pull away, thanks to a mistake-free short game built on his powerful, accurate drives. When Alvarez sank the winning putt, he let loose his trademark flurry of punches.
“We both hate to lose, but if I had to lose a close one, it would be to this guy right here,” said Schauffele. “I pride myself on my work ethic, but Canelo can outwork anyone, and that's why he's standing there holding the trophy. He earned it. But you can bet I'm going to get my revenge in the rematch next year. Better lace up your gloves, Canelo!” laughed Schauffele.
“I enjoyed my victories in the ring, but this victory is something extra special to me because no one thought I could do it,” said Alvarez. “When an athlete knows he is capable, but there are so many people who doubt him, this is nothing but fuel to a person like me.”
Hall of Fame boxing discipline
Alvarez, who retired from boxing as he had long promised at age 37 in 2027 with a record of 70-1-2, 50 KOs, is considered the all-time greatest boxer from Mexico and among the greatest in history. The six-division champion retired from boxing after defeating Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine for the unified heavyweight division title in only his second fight in the division.
After winning all of the titles at light heavyweight after adding the final belt with a win over Dmitry Bivol of Russia in 2023 and defending his titles twice, Alvarez closed out his career with two improbable victories. First, he knocked down WBC World Bridgerweight champion Oscar Rivas, then stepped up for what he said would be his final fight against Usyk in a narrow split decision.
Alvarez declared his love of golf in a 2021 interview after playing in his professional tournament, the BMW Charity Pro-Am. After picking up the game just two years earlier, Alvarez said his lifelong training discipline in boxing held firm as he began putting in serious time on the links.
“There existed no challenges left for me in boxing anymore,” said Alvarez. “I liked the way those numbers looked, and retiring at age 37 on my birthday in 2027 gave me time enough to chase greatness in another sport I love, golf. Golf made me a better boxer. What I mastered in boxing also made me a better golfer.”
Golf ‘Cada Dia'
“You need to love boxing. That's the only way you can be great. Stay disciplined, stay in the gym. No matter whether I had a fight scheduled or not, I was always training. I was always ready no matter what. Discipline makes everything in a champion in all sports.
“But really it is not that difficult for me,” said Alvarez. “I just love playing golf. Cada Dia. I like to play tournaments. The only pressure on me is the pressure I put on myself.”
Alvarez says his next goal is to win the US Open, scheduled in June at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, NY. “I'll be at the (International Boxing) Hall of Fame weekend June 12 and 13 with plenty of time to get to Long Island to get ready to shock the world,” said Alvarez. “Don't doubt me when I put my mind to making something happen.”
With a win, it can be argued that Alvarez would become the world's best Mexican golfer. Lee Trevino, now age 87, said he's rooting for Canelo as the most accomplished golfer of Mexican ancestry. The Texas native known as “Merry Mex” said he hopes Alvarez's popularity will encourage more Mexican youth to take up golf. “What I love most about Canelo is his love of the game and how much fun he's having,” said Trevino. “Why would you put In the kind of hard work it takes to win at golf unless you enjoy it? That was my secret to success, and I see it in Canelo, too.”
And after golf, will Canelo finally retire? “Well, maybe then I will try for the Olympics in horse riding, in dressage,” said Alvarez, who has been a lifelong equestrian enthusiast. “I don't have an Olympic gold medal like Xander does, and many top riders compete when they are in their 50s and 60s, so I have time!”