When it comes to boxing, Canelo Alvarez doesn't want for much.

He turned pro as a teen, was a champion at 20 and has made more money across nearly 17 years in the ring than legends like Joe Louis, Ray Robinson or Muhammad Ali ever dreamed.

So it'd be natural to think – now 32 and with enough cash to support several generations – that the Mexican-born pound-for-pound ace would be content to rest on his laurels.

It'd also be wrong.

Rather than easing back and riding the mandatory defense train into a lucrative sunset, the undisputed king of the super middleweights is tilting at another challenging windmill.

Alvarez will put his status as the sport's highest-profile star on the line again this weekend in Las Vegas, where he'll face familiar foil Gennadiy Golovkin in the Kazakh's 168-pound debut.

It's a third Triple-G go-round for Alvarez, who began gathering divisional belts against Callum Smith in December 2020 and finished with KOs of Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant across six months in 2021.

And now the motivation translates to a single word.


"I love boxing. And I want to accomplish all the things I can in boxing," he told Boxing Scene. "The best things – fight the best, fight all the champions, different weight classes.

"For me, my legacy is important."

Always has been, in fact.

It's a product of the mindset forged across a career-long partnership with trainers Eddy and Chepo Reynoso, who've been in the corner for every step on a path that's seen him grow – literally – from a skinny 140-pound 15-year-old to the muscular physique he's morphed into at 168 and 175.

He had his 34th pro bout a week before his 20th birthday and snatched his first belt at 154 pounds three fights and eight months later, defeating Matthew Hatton by unanimous decision in March 2011.

And the quest for greatness was officially on.

"Everything comes because of the people around me," he said. "You never know what is going to happen but if you work hard and keep in the gym and stay disciplined, things come.

"Things come together. When you love something the things come together. We never knew this was going to happen and we were going to do this and this and this. But it's all come together."

That first title bout aired on HBO's second-tier Boxing After Dark program, but the network's longtime blow-by-blow man, Jim Lampley, got the chance to call several of the evolving phenom's fights on World Championship Boxing shows and remains impressed by where he's come from where he was.

"Far more cosmic and multi-talented than I at first envisioned," Lampley told Boxing Scene.

"And you can say exactly the same thing in exactly the same terms about Eddy Reynoso. Chicken/egg. Both about as good as it gets. Counterpuncher by origin nature becomes indomitable attacker when he wants to be? Fewer than a dozen in history of boxing. A superstar with epic historic impact."

He unified and defended titles six times over the subsequent months before making the one mistake of his career – or at least doing the one thing he says now that he'd change – fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The two met in September 2013 when Alvarez, though a veteran of 43 fights, was still just 23 and hadn't been in an event that large, let alone against an opponent as good as Mayweather, even at 36. The older man befuddled him over 12 rounds, winning a majority decision that stood as his only loss for nine years until he was again schooled by light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol over 12 rounds in May.

His then-promoter Oscar De La Hoya told Boxing Scene he advised Alvarez against taking the Mayweather match, and Alvarez himself said the outcome might have differed had it occurred later.

"I'm good with my career. But maybe the fight with Mayweather could have waited a little longer, when I got more experience and more fights on the biggest stages," he said. "Maybe that one. I think it could have been better for me. But I learned from that fight, too. So everything is in the correct time."

Indeed, he was a middleweight champion after defeating Miguel Cotto four fights after Mayweather and ultimately tamed – or at least held at bay – the boogeyman that was a then-unbeaten Golovkin, going 12 rounds for a split-decision draw in 2017 before returning exactly 364 days later to win a majority nod.

The aforementioned titles at super middleweight and light heavyweight have followed as part of a post-Golovkin run, in which Alvarez has earned five of seven wins by KO while battling foes weighing anywhere from 160 to 175 pounds. 

He fought at 160 for the final time while defeating Daniel Jacobs in fight two of the series and a career-high 174 1/2 in beating Kovalev, who'd arrived with 29 KOs in 34 wins.

And though the first two Golovkin fights have been tight, Alvarez is a significant trilogy-capping favorite with the oddsmakers at DraftKings, who've installed him as a -550 pick (bet $550 to win $100) while Golovkin is a +380 underdog (bet $100 to win $380).

Should those numbers hold out and he finish 2-0-1 against Golovkin, there'll be even more legacy talk for Alvarez – specifically about where he fits when it comes to all-time discussions.

But it's all premature, he said, because there's six or seven years left to build the resume, and he won't spend any sleepless nights thinking about it anyway.

"It doesn't matter for me where they put me," he said.

"I just work hard, fight hard and fight the best. And that's it."

* * * * * * * * * *

This week’s title-fight schedule:

IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO super middleweight titles – Las Vegas, Nevada

Canelo Alvarez (champion/No. 1 IWBR) vs. Gennadiy Golovkin (No. 1 WBO/Unranked IWBR)

Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KO): Fourth WBA/WBC title defense; Unbeaten at 168 pounds (6-0, 4 KO)

Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KO): Twenty-third title fight (20-1-1); Fourth fight above 160 pounds (3-0, 2 KO)

Fitzbitz says: I was in on the ground floor on GGG when he was just an IBO champion and I surely hope he’ll summon a classic sendoff. But I think Canelo’s just too good at 168. Alvarez in 10 (85/15)

WBC super flyweight title – Las Vegas, Nevada

Jesse Rodriguez (champion/No. 15 IWBR) vs. Israel Gonzalez (No. 11 WBC/Unranked IWBR)

Rodriguez (16-0, 11 KO): Second title defense; Third fight in Las Vegas (2-0, 2 KO)

Gonzalez (28-4-1, 11 KO): Fourth title fight (0-3); Fifth fight outside Mexico (1-2-1, 0 KO)

Fitzbitz says: Gonzalez is a bona fide world-class fighter, but he’s fallen short in each try for a championship before this one, and it’s not any easier a task here. Rodriguez in 7 (99/1)

Last week's picks: None

2022 picks record: 26-12 (68.4 percent)

Overall picks record: 1,235-404 (75.3 percent)

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.