The night could have turned out much better for the boxer he traveled to support, but Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez was certainly blown away by his time spent in the Middle East.
The reigning World middleweight king and light heavyweight titlist took time from his lengthy vacation to take a ringside view for Andy Ruiz’s attempt to defend his slew of heavyweight titles versus Anthony Joshua in their rematch Saturday in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
“I’m just enjoying my time off. I’ve been on vacation and it’s very important for me to be here and enjoy the fight,” Alvarez (53-1-2, 36KOs) said during an interview with DAZN, which streamed the event live on location. “It’s also very important to for me to choose the best possible opponent for my next fight. For now, I’m just enjoying my vacation and my time off.”
The night didn’t go nearly as expected, as Ruiz—the first-ever boxer of Mexican descent to capture a portion of the heavyweight crown following his knockout win over Joshua in June—dropped a landslide decision. It left his reign as one and done, though amidst a night in a location few thought would come to fruition.
Among those impressed by the scenery was Mexico’s Alvarez, who added to his pound-for-pound credentials with an 11th round knockout of Sergey Kovalev to win a light heavyweight title this past November in Las Vegas, Nevada. The win put the 29-year old weight jumper in historic company, joining Hall of Fame legends “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Mike McCallum as the only male boxers in history to capture major titles at junior middleweight, middleweight and light heavyweight.
Alvarez also holds a secondary version of the super middleweight title, which he collected in a 3rd round knockout of Rocky Fielding last December. The win marked his first ever fight in New York City, though with his legendary career limited to The Americas, having fought exclusively in his native Mexico and the United States.
While boxing has always been a global sport, most of the biggest fights of the 21st Century have resided in the United States. That perception is beginning to change, including but not limited to Joshua’s title-regaining efforts over Ruiz.
It has also clearly left an impression on Alvarez, by far the biggest box-office attraction who is strongly considering a world tour for 2020 and beyond. A global run makes sense given the potential future opponents, including England's pair of unbeaten super middleweight titlists in Billy Joe Saunders and Callum Smith, along with Japan's famed two-time secondary middleweight titlist Ryota Murata.
“Of course, why not,” notes Alvarez, whether fighting in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else on the planet he hasn’t previously appeared in a boxing ring. “It’s an excellent opportunity. Of course I can see myself fighting anywhere in the world.
“I can see myself fighting here (in Saudi Arabia), fighting in Japan, in England. Believe me, this is something. What a moment it would be for my career to fight anywhere in the world for the right opportunity.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox