By Lem Satterfield
Mexico's 20-year-old WBC junior middleweight titlist Saul Alvarez will pursue his 33rd straight win and his 12th stoppage in his past 14 fights during the mandatory defense of his belt against England's 34-year-old Ryan Rhodes on June 18 in Jalisco, Mexico.
But during a national conference call on Tuesday, the popular, red-haired fighter spent some time fending off questions about potential bouts opposite eight division king Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 knockouts), newly-crowned WBC middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez (43-0-1, 30 KOs) and six-time titlist Floyd Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs).
The first query concerned an All-Mexican clash with the 25-year-old Chavez, who is coming off of last weekend's unanimous decision that dethroned Germany's Sebastian Zbik (30-1, 10 KOs).
"Look, I'm worried about myself. I worry about myself and my own fights. It's good that he won, and I respect that. I respect that and I respect everybody, so it's great that he won the title," said Alvarez (36-0-1, 26 KOs).
"In the future, we can talk about that. Possibly in the future. But right now, I've got other things on my mind. I'm concentrating on this fight. And we're in different weight classes as well," said Alvarez, whose promoter, Golden Boy, has mended fences with rival Top Rank Promotions. "So, maybe sometime in the future, if something can be worked out, and the promoters can make the fight happen, I would consider it, of course."
Alvarez earned the crown with March's unanimous decision over England's Matthew Hatton (41-5-2, 16 KOs), the younger brother of former world champion, Ricky Hatton.
"I'm nothing like Matthew Hatton. For one, I can punch, and I can punch hard. I can switch-hit, and I'm a legitimate light middleweight," said Rhodes (45-4, 31 KOs) is riding a 10-bout winning streak that includes eight knockouts.
"I'm the first legitimate light middleweight that Canelo is fighting," said Rhodes. "I'm nothing like Matthew Hatton. Comparing me to Matthew Hatton is a massive mistake."
Alvarez-Hatton took place in the wake of Pacquiao's having relinquished the WBC junior middleweight belt he had won with a November unanimous decision win over ex-champion Antonio Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs).
Pacquiao vacated that crown in favor of making a defense of his WBO welterweight title with last month's unanimous decision over three-division, five-time titlist Shane Mosley (46-7-1, 39 KOs).
Golden Boy Promotions' CEO Richard Schaefer said recently that a Mexican billionaire's $65 million rumored offer to Pacquiao was never made and that the story was untrue.
But Alvarez, nevertheless, was asked if the notion of facing Pacquiao had been a distraction.
"It didn't worry me. It wasn't a distraction. I knew that it was fake," said Alvarez, whose nickname is "Canelo."
"I knew that it wasn't real," said Alvarez. "I hadn't been notified about it at all, so it didn't disturbe my sleep at all."
Golden Boy Promotions announced on Tuesday that it will match the 34-year-old Mayeather opposite 24-year-old WBC welterweight king Victor Ortiz (29-2-2, 22KOs) on Sept. 17.
But would Alvarez consider facing Mayweather next?
At that point, Golden Boy Promotions match maker Eric Gomez interjected.
"We're concentrating on this fight. This fight is a very tough fight. Ryan Rhodes is a very tough customer and we've got to get past this fight," said Gomez.
"There is nothing written in stone," said Gomez. "So after this fight, if everything goes okay, then we'll sit down and talk. But we're concentrating on Ryan Rhodes, and it's a big obstacle."
Rhodes, meanwhile, has grown weary of hearing Alvarez's being mentioned for future fights.
"I hear all of this talk about 'next opponent, next opponent,' and 'this opponent or that opponent,' and I just giggle to myself if he thinks or everybody else around him thinks like that. I don't know if Canelo is thinking like that or what," said Rhodes.
"But if everybody else is talking about these super fights and all of these fights with other Mexicans. I just think, 'Carry on talking,'" said Rhodes. "But the only fight people will be watching come [June 18] is the one with Ryan Rhodes. And on Sunday, June 19, they're [Alvarez's people] going to be wanting a rematch with Ryan Rhodes."