All-conquering Alvarez nears the homecoming he has wanted from the start

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez revealed that he has wanted a homecoming since the last time he fought in Mexico, in 2011.

It was in June 2011 when, aged 20 in Guadalajara, he stopped the respected Ryan Rhodes. That November in Mexico City he then stopped Kermit Cintron, but since then, in the course of becoming the world’s most popular and among the most respected of fighters, he has fought exclusively in the US. 

Saturday’s fight at Guadalajara’s Akron Stadium against John Ryder represents his first fight in his home city since a time he was considered the most promising of fighters, and comes with him returning having conquered the world.

Amid suggestions that Gervonta Davis, in so recently beating Ryan Garcia, had established himself as the “new face of boxing”, it was reported earlier this week by Forbes that with an income of $110m he is not only the highest-paid fighter of the past year, but the fifth highest-paid athlete in the world.

There had also long been the potential for Alvarez to fight the 34-year-old Ryder in the UK – like Ryder he is promoted by the Essex-based Matchroom – but the super middleweight, 32, said: “Since 2011 I’ve wanted to come back to fight in Mexico but it’s a little bit difficult to make a [big] fight here. It’s the correct moment to bring this fight.

“It’s the correct time to come to Mexico and bring this fight to my people, who support me from the beginning, and I’ve had a lot of good experience in other places so, now, bringing this fight to my people is just an amazing thing.

“Especially in my career. I achieved a lot of things these last 12 years, so I feel proud about what I’ve accomplished.

“I think it’s the correct moment. It’s difficult to make a fight here in Mexico. This kind of a fight. But when you want something you can do it.

“I needed to move a lot of things [to make this fight happen]. A lot of things. A lot of big things. I asked them [my promoters] the same question you’re asking me. ‘Why?’ Now, I know why. It’s very difficult. It’s very complicated.

“I just like to make history like him [Julio Cesar Chavez]. He’s one of the great Mexicans.

“I love this sport a lot. This is my life. I don’t want to think about [how long is left in my career] right now.”

A symbol of not only the 32-year-old Alvarez’s status but perhaps what the future might hold for him exists in the fact that his promotional company, Canelo Promotions, is overseeing Saturday’s fight. Eddie Hearn and Matchroom are secondary in Guadalajara, regardless of their long-term association with Ryder, and Hearn told ProBox TV: “We normally do everything, but here we appreciate there’s a lot that needs to be done on the ground. 

“We’re promoting the fight, but we’re working with Canelo Promotions with their team on the ground. The Mexican government; tourism. Everything’s in Spanish, so we’re here to provide the infastructure; we’re here to support the TV distribution; the networks; the undercard; Saul; the hotel. We’re working together on everything. But certain elements being in Mexico needs the local team on the ground.

“Ultimately, this is a Mexican fight. Obviously there’s a global audience, but at the same time the audience in here, and the people tuned into the press conference on Azteca, is a Mexican audience.

“Being at home here. He’s in a good place. We spoke this morning. Every fight I’ve been involved in – he’s so chilled. I’ve never known him to lose his rag once. I’ve never known him to be in a mood – this is behind the [scenes], away from the face-offs, going for something to eat. Wherever.

“He’s doing [this fight here] for his family. For his city. For Mexico. I feel like he feels like he almost owes it to them to do this fight. He’s been talking about it for a long time – ever since I’ve been working for him, which is three years now. He’s been talking about doing a fight in Mexico.

“It’s an unbelievable moment for his family. Imagine being from Guadalajara, selling an ice box on the street, and all of a sudden you’re filling a stadium and all your family are there. At the first press conference he had his mum, his grandad, his nan, and they were all thinking, ‘Wow, he’s fighting in Guadalajara’, where everybody from their family grew up.”