Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez agreed it was long overdue to return to his roots.
The undisputed super middleweight champion remained firm on his next fight taking place in his homeland, despite offers from around the world for his in-ring services. Locations in the United Kingdom and the Middle East were speculated for Alvarez’s long-discussed mandatory title defense versus interim WBO titlist John Ryder (32-5, 18KOs).
Ultimately, it was decided that the May 6 event will land at Estadio Akron, a 48,000-plus seat multi-purpose stadium just outside of the boxer’s hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico.
“It’s an unbelievable moment for me,” Alvarez noted during a press conference held Thursday afternoon at Petco Park, home to Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres. “I (will) get to see my grandmother, my dad, mom, my brothers, my family there. A lot of media guys I saw when I started in boxing.
“I feel very proud. I feel happy to bring this fight to Guadalajara. I can give the people some of the experiences I had in other places as the best in the world. This is the perfect time. A long time ago, I wanted to fight in Guadalajara. This is the perfect moment to bring this fight to Guadalajara.
The fight will mark Alvarez’s first in his home country since November 2011, when he scored a sixth-round knockout of former welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron in Mexico City. Alvarez (58-2-2, 39KOs) has since fought 22 times in the U.S. and has emerged as the sport’s biggest star in the post-Floyd Mayweather era.
Alvarez’ drawing power was already on the rise by the time he faced and lost to Mayweather in their September 2013 super fight. The event established the live gate record for a boxing event in Nevada, since surpassed by Mayweather’s wins over Manny Pacquiao and Conor McGregor and Alvarez’s first two fights with Gennadiy Golovkin.
Alvarez has also produced well-received—and attended—events in Houston, Miami, San Antonio, the greater Dallas area and his long awaited December 2018 New York City debut.
Two separate trips to Texas in a span of three fights saw Alvarez unify the WBA, WBC and WBO super middleweight titles in wins over then-unbeaten titlists Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders. Alvarez became the first undisputed super middleweight champion in the division’s 40-plus year history just one fight later with an eleventh-round knockout of unbeaten IBF titlist Caleb Plant atop their November 2021 Showtime Pay-Per-View in front of a sold-out crowd at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The win over Saunders produced a live gate of $9,002,920 from 66,065 tickets sold at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The paid attendance total set a record for the largest indoor crowd for a boxing event in North America, surpassing the 63,352 fans on hand for the September 1978 Muhammad Ali-Leon Spinks heavyweight championship rematch at the Louisiana Superdome (now Mercedes-Benz Superdome) in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Still, the feeling is that his long overdue homecoming will replace any other boxing memory as the one which he will most cherish.
“It will be one of the best moments of my career for sure,” vowed Alvarez. “The fight with Billy Joe Saunders in Dallas was amazing. It was one of the most [enjoyable] fights I’ve ever been in.
“I think Guadalajara is going to be the same or even more.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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