Canelo Alvarez does not need to be reminded how great a trainer Eddy Reynoso. He has known that since turning pro at the age of 15.
Even as he has accumulated fame and fortune, Alvarez continues to maintain a sense of humility.
The popular superstar from Guadalajara, Mexico will face Avni Yildirim tonight at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. The 12-round bout will stream live on DAZN (7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT).
Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 knockouts) will be defending his WBC and WBA world title belts against Yildirim, who is the WBC mandatory challenger. To fulfill the mandate by the sanctioning body, Alvarez promised to make the first defense of the WBC title against Yildirim following his one-sided decision victory over Callum Smith on December 19.
Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) is a significant underdog going into the fight, but Alvarez is not overlooking the fighter from Istanbul, Turkey.
“He is a strong fighter,” Alvarez told BoxingScene last week through Zoom. “He takes a punch. He comes forward. He doesn’t get walked down. He won the opportunity for this fight. Obviously, I’m taking this fight just like I would all my fights, with a lot of responsibility and discipline. I have to win this fight to move on with my career and to continue making history.”
That history is dominating a competitive 168-pound division. After winning world title belts at 154 and 160 pounds, Alvarez is compelled to become the undisputed super middleweight champion of the world.
Some have criticized Alvarez for wanting to face Yildirim, who was once a sparring partner for Alvarez in his preparation for his two fights against Gennadiy Golovkin. Alvarez is quick to point out he is simply fulfilling his mandatory obligation with the WBC, but also wants to remain as active as possible, especially with possible unification fights later this year.
“I love to fight,” said Alvarez, who made headlines a few months ago for becoming a promotional free agent. “I love to stay active throughout the year. It motivates me a lot. We have the goal of winning all of the world title belts at 168 pounds. (Saturday night) is the first step in that journey. We take it seriously and go out to win.
“The 168-pound division is a lot tougher. These are fighters that are a lot stronger. They come down to make weight, then they fill out (add weight) after the weigh-in. Despite the added weight that they have, I feel fine. I believe I can compete with any of them.”
Alvarez has been known for work ethic and discipline during training camp, which takes place in San Diego, California. Aside from the infinite amount of time Alvarez has spent in the gym, he counts on the advice and guidance of Eddy Reynoso.
Over the last couple of years, boxing fans have seen improvement Alvarez has made. Just this year alone, other fighters who are trained by Reynoso have seen success in the ring, including Ryan Garcia, who overcame a knockdown to knock out Luke Campbell on January 2. Last Saturday night, Oscar Valdez won the WBC junior lightweight title by outboxing and later knocking out longtime titleholder Miguel Berchelt.
Alvarez can count on Reynoso, who is known as a disciplinarian and a trainer that is big on repetition, especially on throwing specific punches or combinations. While Alvarez admits there can the occasional argument between the two, their relationship goes beyond the ring.
“I have my friendship with Eddy,” said Alvarez. “It’s family, really. We’ve had disagreements in the past. There’s times we have gotten upset with one another or where we do not agree with each other. But we are family. We are family through the good and the bad, which is the most important, even out of the ring. When it comes to boxing, I have complete faith in him. Eddy has faith in me. He knows what I’m capable of. I know what he’s capable of. I think our relationship is unique. I think there are few times relationships like this between trainer and fighter exist. It’s more than brothers. We know each other very well. We ask each other advise in our personal life. In the ring, there are triumphs.”
As he continues to amass his wealth through the sport and their sponsors, notably Under Armour, Alvarez also is noted for his philanthropy out of the ring. Last month, Alvarez met with a young teenager by the name of David, who utilizes a wheelchair. In an Instagram post, Alvarez called upon people to donate and assist economically-disadvantaged kids and teenagers like David.
Alvarez has helped several young kids who have reached out to him through social media. If there is a lesson learned is that Alvarez hopes people would voluntarily donate as opposed to waiting for professional athletes or celebrities to do so.
Alvarez, who grew up modestly in Guadalajara, admits his wanting to help people like David comes from one place.
“The answer is simple. It comes from the heart. Young kids reach out to me on my social media and I do what I can to help. I’ve helped out many, but I don’t like to bring about attention from my social media accounts. In reality, my video with David went viral. Obviously, I wanted to take the opportunity to send a message to all the people to not wait for someone to take initiative for everyone else. Anyone can help children.
“There are 120 million Mexicans. In all of Mexico. If those 120 million Mexicans donate 50 cents, 50 cents is nothing. Anyone has at least 50 cents. that’s 60 million pesos to help. Could you imagine how many kids that could help? Los of kids. It’s not just kids like David. There are several young kids. But people are accustomed to wait for people who have money or who are famous to initiate and help the less fortunate. We can all do it (to help). It doesn’t matter if you have money or don’t have money. It should be the desire that you want to help and to support these kids. We’re accustomed to have someone take initiative. That’s why we (Mexicans) always don’t come out on top. We would be so much better off if we all took the time to help out the less fortunate.”
Should Alvarez defeat Yildirim, as expected, he will likely face WBO titleholder Billy Joe Saunders on May 8. A possible fight against IBF titleholder Caleb Plant could take place in September or December.
With so many personal accomplishments, it is difficult for Alvarez to pick one or even five. He takes pride in having won multiple world title belts in four weight classes, but does a special place for the Ring Magazine title.
Alvarez is eager to cement his legacy and hopes to do so by becoming the undisputed world super middleweight champion by the end of the year.
“Every win has been a success or triumph. Truthfully, I’m the only Latino fighter to win The Ring Magazine championship belt at 154, 160 and 168 pounds. There are few fighters who have won world title belts in those three weight classes. I have won 10 world title belts by the time I reached 30 years old. I have had a lot of triumphs and success and to say which are my five best would not be fair.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.