Canelo Alvarez fights John Ryder Saturday night. It will be extra special, because he is fighting in his native home, Mexico, for the first time in 12 years. As I've watched the lead-up to this fight, I've seen him look happy.
Now, often, when you see a fighter happy, it is a red-flag. A loss might be upcoming. A smiling and content fighter also can signal the end of the road.
Even as an emerging boxing writer, when I lose my edge, my ability to be confrontational and a passion to crank out as much work as any one person can in a single day, I will know God has another plan for me at that point in my life.
Yet, seeing Canelo Alvarez return to Guadalajara is the rare instance in which a mood can be “too upbeat” for the occasion. Alvarez appears to relish this moment as though the fighter who turned prof in 2005 manifested this.
What Makes A Hero?
Joseph Campbell spoke and wrote superbly on how the trials and tribulations define a hero. The destination is rarely the crowning achievement for the hero, he maintained.
Is this fight in this place that rare moment in which we witness the celebration of a heroic figure in pugilism? I think so.
Let me explain.
The walkout and visual associated with Canelo Alvarez's entrance will more than likely become the image that is played to highlight his career – the crowd, the atmosphere, the entrance, these things are just as much a part of the fight as the action.
Though I haven't heard Canelo Alvarez speak about it, it seems as though legacy matters – and dreams matter. This is Canelo's moment to be what Julio Cesar Chavez was to him. And, to fight in Mexico and inspire the next generation of great fighters.
You'll notice when he speaks in his post-fight interviews in Spanish before English, as he wants to speak to the people of his country before speaking to the English-only audience.
It seems this fight to Canelo is continuing the inspiration and tradition of great Mexican boxing and though he has voyaged to the United States for over a decade he returns to Mexico as one of the biggest figures to emerge from the country.
Back To Gritty Gym, Canelo Alvarez Prepping For ‘A Good One'
Seeing Alvarez training in what looks like a recreation center gym in Mexico this week appears more iconic to my eye than when he fought Floyd Mayweather or even beat Gennadiy Golovkin. This is the real Canelo Alvarez, the one we rarely see. The deeply proud fighter, who emerged amongst a slew of other Mexican fighters and became the face of Mexican boxing in the modern era.
His opponent, John Ryder, is a good one.
A tough durable southpaw, a guy who had a banner year in 2022, beating Daniel Jacobs by a narrow split decision and stopping Zach Parker.
Gayle Falkenthal did a good job summing up this contest, click here.
Ryder earned the shot but is all wrong for Canelo Alvarez. Ryder is a southpaw pressure fighter not unlike James Kirkland, who might have a better beard. But his world-class trait is toughness, durability, and a big gas tank. Canelo's greatest strength is counterpunching with big concussive blows.
Add the style matchup with one of the most iconic crowds of the year, and you will see a hungry Canelo looking to inspire a slew of young people watching him for possibly the first and only time, live.
Yet, for Ryder, it isn't a woe-is-me story. Ryder was written off unfairly as a journeyman after narrow decision losses to Rocky Fielding, Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders.
All of those fighters fought Canelo, and now Ryder gets his chance. Ryder goes from a tough British domestic talent, to now one of the best British fighters of his era, his bank account gets bigger, and his name in history is immortalized.
Canelo Alvarez will be fighting for the pride of his country. Ryder will be fighting for vindication, to prove that he deserved to be respected all along. Both will get what they want from this fight – Canelo will get his legendary night in Mexico which will be one of the crowning moments of his career, and Ryder will prove that he deserved to be evaluated higher in his prime.