It was a brisk 50 degrees here in the desert on Wednesday, but not nearly as cold as the relationship between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and his promoter Oscar De La Hoya seems to have gotten.
The two hardly acknowledged each other as they sat side-by-side during a press conference at the MGM Grand to promote Saturday’s light heavyweight championship fight at the Grand Garden Arena.
Alvarez is attempting to capture a world championship in a fourth division by taking on WBO 175-pound champion Sergey Kovalev of Russia. Alvarez first won a world title at 154 pounds and currently holds belts at 160 and 168.
DAZN will live stream the main card and De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions is serving as the lead promoter, which is why he and Alvarez were sitting next to each other at the dais in the KA Theater. Yet, they never acknowledged each other, much less interacted, as De La Hoya spent much of his time staring straight ahead.
When it was his turn at the podium, De La Hoya spoke in general terms. “[Saturday] will be a great night for boxing as the biggest star in the sport inches even closer for greatness,” he said. That’s as close as the promoter got to hyping his fighter before ducking out without taking questions.
It has been nearly a decade since De La Hoya, who retired as a boxer in 2009, signed Alvarez from Guadalajara, Mexico, and began making him a star in America. But their long association seems to have soured amid De La Hoya’s mounting personal issues. Just days after De La Hoya was accused of sexual assault by an unidentified woman, Alvarez questioned his promoter’s loyalty.
“You can see there’s no loyalty in him,” Alvarez told The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger. “He changed trainers during his career. He changed managers in his career. So there’s no loyalty. That’s the way he is. We see it now.”
De La Hoya couldn’t have been happy with the article coming at a time when his personal life is national news. The Olympic gold medal winner and 10-time world champion has a history of substance-abuse issues, but remains the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions.
While De La Hoya, 46, has denied the sexual assault allegations, Alvarez has to be frustrated De La Hoya’s personal issues are taking attention away from his fight with Kovalev. When asked Wednesday about his relationship with De La Hoya, Alvarez said: “I’m here to perform a fight. I’m not here to speak about any legal situations.”
Normally, big fights like this are a crowning moment for promoters and their boxers. Kovalev (34-3-1, 28 KOs) and his promoter, Kathy Duva of Main Events, shared smiles and laughs. Duva even brought a giveaway that featured Kovalev’s biggest fights. But it was ice between Alvarez and De La Hoya, as the promoter thanked just about everybody involved in the fight except for Alvarez. The only caveat he offered was, “I think we’re all aware now that we’re witnessing greatness in the making.”
This is an important fight for Alvarez. He is essentially moving up two weight divisions.
“It’s a big challenge for me,” Alvarez said. “I also think it’s the most important fight of my career. That’s why we are doing this, to keep making history. That’s what I like. I like those challenges.”
Alvarez (51-1-2, 34 KOs) made history last year when he signed a six-fight deal with DAZN worth $365 million. It was the richest contract in sports history at the time, though since surpassed by the $430 million contract outfielder Mike Trout signed with the Los Angeles Angels.
This will be the third fight of the contract after Alvarez won a 168-pound title by beating Rocky Fielding at the Garden in December and retained his middleweight titles against Daniel Jacobs in May in Las Vegas.
Source: George Willis