Alvarez-Ryder fight week diary: Day Four

The shuttle bus from the Hotel Riu in the centre of Guadalajara to the Akron Stadium on its outskirts was so full of those making their way to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s homecoming fight that there were times they resembled cattle.

When it finally pulled up in the car park they then had to make a lengthy journey across that car park, where numerous Mexican fight fans were gathered from early in the afternoon – many enjoying barbecues by their cars.

ProBox TV arrived shortly before 4pm, when, curiously, an hour-long interval was about to start in which accredited media wouldn’t have been allowed to collect their passes and would simply have had to wait outside in the intense heat. After gaining entry to the stadium, the precarious, 20-minute journey to the ringside seats – across all manner of cables that occasionally had to be climbed over, sometimes in areas of the stadium that a more experienced organisation than Canelo Promotions would likely have forbid access to – began.

The presence of the great Marco Antonio Barrera and Julio Cesar Chavez at ringside provided a reminder of the significance of the occasion – one that was potentially at risk of being undermined by the presence, everywhere, of the light-up bracelets so often favoured by self-satisfied-yet-endlessly-bland performers like Coldplay. 

Among the conversations that took place at ringside was one between representatives of ESPN and DAZN. DAZN, oddly, given their attempts to promote what is almost obligatorily referred to as “content”, refuse ESPN permission to show highlights of their fights on ESPN’s popular programme SportsCenter, which might just prove a pretty good place to start spreading awareness of them.

Not long after David Diamante had to pause making an introduction to check the name of the referee stood alongside him, Eddie Hearn arrived ringside with Regis Prograis in tow, essentially confirming rumours that had spread in boxing circles that the WBC super lightweight champion had agreed promotional terms with Matchroom. Matchroom’s press release announcing the development imminently followed.

Soon after, Hearn could be seen referring to his “best ever signing”, which, for all of Prograis’ talent and appeal, came as a surprise. It then became apparent that it was Andy Cruz he was referring to, because Cruz was soon also ringside, and the subject of another official announcement.

At his post-fight press conference John Ryder was still wiping blood away from the nose he said he believed Alvarez had broken in the second round – so much so that his chair had to be replaced before Alvarez attended his. It was almost 1am in Guadalajara by the time Alvarez showed up, alongside Hearn, Eddy Reynoso, his wife, and his two children.Before he had, he and Ryder had spent time together bonding over their new-found mutual respect. 

The most lasting impression of the evening was regardless the extent of Ryder’s disappointment. He described himself as “gutted” at having lost, despite the extent to which he had impressed and enhanced his reputation. There had sat a fearless fighter with not only heart, but who had believed he was going to win and took little consolation in how positive an evening it had in so many ways been for him.