Monaco/Johannesburg - Canadian-based light-heavyweights are on a roll and the next one to come off the production line is threatening to do so in explosive style at Monte Carlo’s “Title Tornado” event on October 25.
Eleider Alvarez, who was born in Colombia, has been based in Montreal since his professional debut in 2009. He challenges South Africa’s Ryno Liebenberg for the WBC Silver belt in a rare battle of unbeaten fighters.
“Storm” Alvarez is promoted by Yvon Michel’s GYM group, who last weekend celebrated Artur Beterbiev’s sensational knockout performance against Tavoris Cloud. WBC champion Adonis Stevenson and former champion Jean Pascal also rank among the Colombian’s teammates.
Alvarez may be the least-known of this impressive group, but he plans his coming out party against the rugged Liebenberg.
The pair has exchanged robust banter on Twitter, but the time for talking stops when they put their perfect records on the line later this month. Alvarez is unbeaten in 15 fights (eight stoppages) with Liebenberg similarly placed – 16-0 (11 KOs).
Alvarez has seen tapes of his opponent and rates him as an aggressive fighter.
“I think [his style] will make for a very good fight,” he said through a Spanish interpreter. “I’m a classic boxer with good speed and good technique.”
It is a style honed in a long and successful amateur career (200+ bouts) that saw him win gold at the South American Games in 2006 and at the Pan American Games in Brazil a year later. After knocking out Cuban Yusiel Napoles in the final, he was approached by Michel’s scouts, who signed him to a pro contract in Canada.
“My transition from Colombia to Canada went well,” he said. “I have a great team that surrounds me, but the toughest part is that I’m far away from my wife and daughter.”
Alvarez captured his first title belt in just his seventh pro fight, knocking out respected Emiliano Cayetano in the first round to capture the vacant WBO NABO light-heavyweight championship three years ago.
In going on to defeat a number of fringe contenders, among them Shawn Hawk, fellow Colombian Edison Miranda and Alexander Johnson, he has cemented his position in the various world bodies: #12 in the WBC, #2 in the WBA and #3 in the WBO.
“All my life was built up in a tough way and I don’t know any other way,” he said of being matched hard in the past 18 months, his past four opponents having a combined record of 79-12.
Having grown up admiring Antonio Cervantes, the former two-time world junior-welterweight champion and Hall of Famer, Alvarez’s ambition is to emulate his countryman.
“I will show the world I’m ready for business,” he said of his impending assignment.
As for his regular Twitter exchanges with Liebenberg, Alvarez is nonplussed: “It’s just fun. At the end of the day when the bell rings the real business will take place.”
Alvarez spars two to three times a week and although he wouldn’t reveal who he mixes it with, it is probably safe to assume that the aforementioned stablemates help him out.
“We use specific sparring partners with the style of Liebenberg . . . I will keep the name a secret.”
Promoter Rodney Berman accepts that he is taking a calculated risk matching his fighter with someone as dangerous as Alvarez.
“They are similar age and both need to step up. At this level there’s no hiding and to Ryno’s credit, he says ‘bring them all on’. I’m very pleased that Alvarez took the fight. I expect the bookmakers will make him a favourite based on his excellent skills, but Liebenberg will bring it hard. Given recent action in the division, I’m predicting another explosive fight.”
The “Title Tornado” card also includes WBA/IBO strawweight champion Hekkie Budler’s title defence against Xiong Zhao Zhong of China, the WBC Silver middleweight title fight between Martin Murray and Domenico Spada and the IBF bantamweight title bout between Stuart Hall of the UK and Randy Caballero of the US.