Hopkins doubts whether Canelo still has 'fire in his belly'

Bernard Hopkins has questioned whether Saul “Canelo” Alvarez still has “fire in his belly” ahead of his homecoming fight on Cinco de Mayo weekend.

On Saturday at Guadalajara’s Akron Stadium the undisputed super middleweight champion defends his titles against the 34-year-old John Ryder, and does so having not fought in his home city for 12 years.

Hopkins remains instrumental at Golden Boy Promotions, who guided Alvarez throughout the majority of his career. He also extended his own remarkable career well into his 40s, when successive defeats by Jermain Taylor had put it at risk.

Doubts have existed around Alvarez since the one-sided nature of last year's defeat by Dmitrii Bivol. It was his performance that night that has contributed to Hopkins’ concerns surrounding the world’s highest-profile and best-paid fighter – and aged 32, despite all of his success, the Mexican is under pressure to impress.

“Is that [the homecoming] maybe a distraction for Canelo?” Hopkins said to ProBox TV. “I’m hoping Canelo wins, but right now I wanna know if Canelo’s still hungry. Do he still have the fire in his belly? He can’t underestimate [Ryder]. Should he win? Absolutely. It says it on paper; it says it in his popularity; it says it where he’s at. If there’s a threat out there, it ain’t him getting beat, it’s him beating himself. Mike Tyson and ‘Buster’ Douglas.

“Would I bet that it’d happen? Absolutely not – I’d be a fool. I’m not just giving my money away. It’s not what the other guy's gonna do. It’s how Canelo approaches it. Whether he still has the fire in his belly. Things have changed.Not only in your age; not only in your body; not only in your success. The refrigerator’s full now. The garage is full. 

“I see it being a close fight. Whoever sticks to they plan all the way through, and is consistent, will win. Of course [I give Ryder a good chance]. Why wouldn’t you?”

That after confirmation of his date with Ryder, Alvarez spoke of his desire to fight Bivol again later this year, demonstrates, at the very least, his confidence that he will beat his latest challenger. Hopkins – who built his reputation as one of the greatest of all middleweights through winning numerous fights as the underdog – regardless believes that he would be making a mistake to again fight the Russian, in the belief that a rematch would unfold in the same way.

“Bivol beats him 10 times out of 10 times,” he said. “I don’t like that fight. He wants to go ahead and make wrong right, and he thinks he can do things different. But I think he has his number. I really personally think he has his number. And I think it won’t be no different from last time. 

“Canelo shouldn’t have lost the fight – and not because of a lack of talent of who he lost to. He was stronger, better, but not technical, and I think he got a little bit more complacent in his success. I didn’t see the fire in his belly. I see him waiting for that moment where he can close the show – it never came.

“Fight the best in that [168lbs] division. I’d like to see that [fight against David Benavidez].”