‘He never believed in my skills’ – Canelo Alvarez wants to make a believer out of Jermell Charlo

“I appreciate Canelo accepting me, little Charlo, the little brother, but the little Charlo comes to fight,” spat Jermell Charlo at the final post-fight press conference ahead of their huge clash in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Canelo Alvarez and Jermell Charlo traded several relatively light-hearted exchanges during an even-tempered event in their penultimate head-to-head before they meet in the ring at the T-Mobile. The highlight was arguably when Charlo said he was a lion and ready for battle and Canelo cheerily replied: “I don’t know what animal I need to say, whatever, just tune into the fight. It’s going to be good. Believe me.”

That brought laughter from those in attendance, and the fighters then displayed their eight championship belts and posed for photos.

The incomparable Jimmy Lennon had kicked off the event, originally summoning Alvarez to take the stage first, but Lennon soon corrected himself and instead introduced Charlo to venture on to the stage.

Canelo followed after a second introduction.

Charlo was flanked by team members Derrick James and Joan Guzman, Canelo was with Eddy Reynoso.

Both fighters, once seated, peered out from behind their championship hauls as owners of WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO and Ring titles.

Showtime’s Brian Custer hosted the press conference. 

The phrase ‘four-belt-era’ was bandied around as if those involved were making $100 for every mention, and Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza talked about the success his channel has had with boxing, not just through 2023 but through its decorated history in boxing. 

With speculation about the network’s boxing future rife, Espinoza was able to point to the resounding success of three big shows in Las Vegas within six months, Tank Davis-Ryan Garcia, Terence Crawford-Errol Spence and now Canelo-Charlo. 

“It feels like it’s déjà vu because it’s what we’ve been doing all years, it’s what we’ve been for years,” said an impassioned Espinoza.

Then, selling the fight, he pointed out that Canelo had beaten 18 former world champions and Charlo had score 15 knockdowns in his last 11 fights.

“This isn’t just a boxing match, this is special,” Ezpinoza added. “This is the best the sport has to offer. This is as good as it gets. There are levels to this and what we are doing here is the highest level. This is special, this is different.”

That sentiment was agreed upon by Derrick James in the Charlo camp.

“It’s a very special event,” said James, who was also part of Crawford-Spence, as Spence’s trainer. “It’s Undisputed v Undisputed, it’s going to take a great Canelo Alvarez to bring out an even better Jermell Charlo.”

In the opposite corner, Eddy Reynoso admitted it was a vital fight for the Mexican idol.

This is a very important fight for us,” said the coach. “We are facing a great opponent, someone who is undisputed as well and his boxing skills are also very good.”

Reynoso reckoned it had been a while since they had trained with such intensity in the camp, and that of the three-months spent in camp, two had been at altitude in Lake Tahoe as they left behind injuries and setbacks to arrive here in Las Vegas at 100 per cent. 

The fighters enjoyed some verbal sparring, and it maybe a lazy cliché but that was how it worked out. They jabbed back and forth, happily enough.

“We finally made it to this moment,” said Charlo, who later admitted there was a rematch clause. “Training camp was tough. It was really hard. Canelo is a fighter you just don’t take for granted. He’s done everything in the sport and he has nothing to prove.”

“I feel great. I feel ready for this fight and yes Jermell is right, I have nothing to prove but this time I have something to prove to him because he never believed in my skills and was always calling me out and I’m ready to show everyone my real skills,” Canelo replied.

The Mexican then said Charlo had not experienced anything like what he will face on Saturday.

“It’s hard to say what [it will be like for him, but] he’s going to find out,” continued Canelo. “He’s going to feel it. And he’s going to realise on Saturday. He’s never been with a fighter like me.”

“That’s what I’m here for,” Charlo replied. “That’s what I’m made for. I feel like Canelo has never been in with a fighter of my calibre.” 

Charlo warned Canelo not to look beyond his experience, power and skills.

“I never do,” Canelo prodded back. “I know what he’s going to bring and I’m ready.”

The exchanges were not sinister. There was no malice, not much spite, but both seemed unflinchingly certain of themselves. 

“I always train 100 per cent but in this fight more I have this motivation because he never believed in my skills and he was always calling me out and I’ll show him in a couple of days,” Canelo concluded.

“You never prove anything to the people, they always have something to say,” Canelo continued, discussing rumours of his demise. “I just need to prove to myself I’m still at the top.”