Canelo Alvarez poised for ring return after tumultuous year

Battle week for Saul ”Canelo” Alvarez generally includes a flashy public arrival at a Las Vegas gambling establishment with fans shouting for his attention. That’s normally followed by a weigh-in prior to a raucous audience and a substantial fight-night crowd roaring for the most significant name in boxing.

Very little about 2020 is typical in the sports world, and Alvarez’s just battle of the pandemic year is no exception.

After an uneventful battle week invested quarantined in a hotel in San Antonio, followed by a peaceful weigh-in, the Mexican pound-for-pound champ takes the ring Saturday night versus England’s Callum Smith with an intentionally sporadic crowd in the spacious Alamodome.

”It’s various when you do not see individuals and you do not see the flags,” Alvarez stated. ”However it’s primarily comparable to what I do. I primarily remain in my space and focus. I’m simply preparing yourself for what’s coming, so that’s the exact same.”

Every popular fighter prospers on his fans’ adulation and motivation to some degree, however Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) understands he’ll need to discover brand-new sources of inspiration. Ending the longest layoff of his 15-year expert profession – and the challenges he needed to conquer prior to he might do it – ought to offer a lot of fire.

”We’re constantly all set for huge difficulties, and thank God we had the ability to have this battle in 2020,” Alvarez stated. ”We’re all set to liquidate the year with a huge bang, and I wish to close it out as the champ.”

Alvarez seemed no place near to a return 3 months earlier when he submitted a claim versus his longtime promoter, Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Kid, and streaming platform DAZN.

Simply 2 years after the champ signed an extremely rewarding offer with DAZN, the fighter had numerous disagreements with the platform about the instructions of his profession. His once-paternal relationship with De La Hoya had actually struck the skids too.

While many boxing lawsuits take years to resolve, Golden Boy and DAZN found an agreement on a breakup with Alvarez in November. Alvarez immediately booked a fight with Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) for the vacant WBC super middleweight title and Smith’s WBA version of the 168-pound belt.

Alvarez is a huge favorite, but Smith eagerly accepted the matchup on relatively short notice.

”He probably knew he was fighting me a little longer than I knew I was fighting him, but he has had actually the same year as everyone else,” Smith said. ”It has been frustrating for all fighters. We have all had a little longer out of the ring than everyone would have liked. … We’ve both been out the same, so it’s just who deals with the inactivity better, who has been living a better life within that year, and who is the better fighter on the night.”

Smith has an added motivation: Alvarez stopped his brother, Liam, in 2016. Smith’s three brothers and his father will be ringside.

While Alvarez’s punching power, combinations and accuracy are daunting, Smith has an advantage that was obvious at the weigh-in. He stands a full 7 inches taller than the 5-foot-8 Alvarez, with significantly superior reach and wingspan.

Alvarez is clearly unconcerned by his size disadvantage, which is no surprise for a fighter who loves to jump around weight classes. Canelo hasn’t fought someone shorter than him in about four years.

While plenty is different about this fight, some things are familiar to Alvarez: The bout is still streaming on DAZN, and the 64,000-seat Alamodome is selling somewhere around 12,000 tickets to people largely cheering for Alvarez, since most Brits understandably can’t make the trip.

”I like risk, and taking this fight is a risk,” Alvarez said. ”We’re fighting the No. 1 guy at 168 pounds, so that’s a risk, however I like taking threats so I can continue to make history.”

AP Sports Author Steve Douglas added to this report.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.