ARLINGTON, Texas – Whatever Canelo Alvarez would do on Saturday night, it would be loud.
Noise made noise. When Alvarez started beating Billy Joe Saunders in the eighth round of his super middleweight bout, Alvarez lifted his gloves and drew a record-breaking crowd, mostly at the AT&T Stadium, to watch the Mexican superstar. Saunders wasn’t going to make it to the start of the ninth round.
When middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade crashed his press conference and called for a fight, Alvarez wouldn’t be silent at that moment either. He dived into English, cursed Andrade, and went back to work.
From the start of the bout week to the very end, Alvarez’s aura flowed as freely as his punches in a stop win to win three of the four belts in the 168 pound division. And he showed that he can transcend boxing politics to have the fights he wants.
After beating Saunders, it means Alvarez will get a fight with Caleb Plant who holds the only stake in the super middleweight division that Alvarez doesn’t. Between the performance and the audience on Saturday night, Alvarez showed all the leverage he needed to remove political complications from Plant’s focus on Premier Boxing Champions.
“He is free to fight the bouts he wishes to have, where those bouts are to take place,” Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn said at a post-fight press conference.
Throughout the build, Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) wasn’t shy about commenting, whether it was barbs or a fight against Plant (21-0, 12 KOs), the 168-pound Weight of the IBF Champion. It was atypical for the previously reticent fighter and a sign that someone was speaking from a place of self-realization.
Alvarez was berated by Saunders’ camp while walking through a lobby on Tuesday, turned around and replied that Saunders was a “damn guy” for threatening to withdraw from the fight because of the ring size. Alvarez gave Saunders the extra two feet he wanted and then hit him on round eight, injuring his right orbital bone to the point where the eye immediately closed, forcing Saunders’ trainer to stop the fight, while Saunders blinked in his chair.
At the post-fight press conference, middleweight champion Andrade made an unexpected appearance. Andrade has long complained that the sport’s top fighters, including Alvarez, avoided him.
Again, Alvarez wasn’t shy about speaking. This time it was far more energetic: Alvarez told Andrade it was his night and repeatedly asked him in English to “get the f — out” from the room. The united champion felt so good that he even started singing.
“Payday, payday,” Alvarez told Andrade. “You want a payday. I know that.”
It was the behavior of someone who knew exactly where he was in the tangled landscape of boxing.
Alvarez was able to bring 73,126 people to the venue, the record for an indoor boxing match in the United States. Not only has it dwarfed a brand previously set by a fight against Muhammad Ali in 1978, but it was launched as vaccines for COVID-19 are still being rolled out across the country, and only since March 2020 a handful of capacity arena shows have taken place.
Last year Alvarez set up the stage completely autonomously, a rare opportunity few boxers like Floyd Mayweather Jr. will ever see. Alvarez terminated his contract with Golden Boy Promotions, started his own company and relied on his star power to continue the dynamic of his career.
So far, that’s exactly what he’s done. In the lead up to the Saunders bout, Alvarez didn’t shy away from asking questions about his legacy or facing Gennadiy Golovkin for a third time or even a possible light heavyweight showdown with Artur Beterbiev at 175 pounds.
Alvarez fought and spoke like a man who controlled the voices and paperbacks of more than 70,000 people based on what he did with his gloves on. The people in Texas paid for him to throw them. When the fans were asked to do so with the same gloves, they cheered together.
And when it came time to have another fight in his post-fight press conference, Alvarez couldn’t be stopped. What Alvarez Andrade showed was the product of someone full of self-confidence.
“I have to say something at some point, right?” Alvarez said. “That is the time.”