Muhammad Ali

Canelo Alvarez: I’m sorry, Britain, but I have to keep beating all your boxers

Saùl ‘Canelo’ Alvarez has made a career out of beating Britons but today he is contrite. “I’m sorry to all the UK people,” he says. “But I had to do it.” Alvarez is the ‘Brit Killer’, the global superstar who has already beaten seven fighters from these shores with an eighth – London’s John Ryder – in his sights in Jalisca on Saturday night.

So it may come as a surprise that Alvarez is a secret Anglophile whose ambition is to fight in this country. “I’ve been thinking this for a long time,” he tells Telegraph Sport. “I would love to fight there, and believe me, it’s going to be soon.” The promise was later confirmed by Eddie Hearn, his promoter and the chairman of Matchroom Sport, who added: “The plan now with Saul is to box all around the world, next Saturday he will be boxing in front of 50,000 fans in his home town of Guadalajara which was always a dream of his, and beyond that he would love to fight in the UK.

“And there would be nothing we would love more than to bring him to our national stadium for a huge fight in front of the British fight fans.”

Canelo – who has beaten Ryan Rhodes, Matthew Hatton, Amir Khan, Liam Smith, Rocky Fielding, Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders – is a heavy favourite against southpaw Ryder, as the Tony Sims-trained fighter challenges for the undisputed super middleweight crown, with all four belts held by the Mexican.

Canelo fights in his hometown for the first time in over a decade and the homecoming means so much to the proud patriot, who is the most watched fighter in the world when he walks to the ring.

Canelo Alvarez (red shorts) kneels down after knocking out Amir Khan (maroon shorts) during their middleweight boxing title fight at T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Canelo knocked out Amir Khan in 2016 CREDIT: Joshua Dahl/USA TODAY Sports

The audience in his homeland is regularly over 30 million and it is little wonder that one of boxing’s biggest stars commands around US $30 million (£23.7 million) a fight in his deal with sports broadcasters DAZN.

“Yeah, it’s very special for me after 12 years, I’ve sparred there a lot of times, I accomplished a lot of things, a lot of world championships, a lot of weight classes, so now like the best fighters they come home and bring a fight for the people.

“These are the people who have supported me from the beginning. I’m very proud and I’m very happy to bring this fight here to Guadalajara. I think it’s the correct moment, the correct time to come home and fight.”

Canelo will be watched by his entire family, and his six brothers who all boxed professionally. Back in his home state, Canelo lives a quiet life and enjoys riding horses, revealing that he enjoys “camping out under the stars and cooking” having been a horseman almost his entire life.

One of the boxer’s other passions is also golf, which he took up in 2019, now playing pro-am occasionally and carrying a handicap of eight.

The little white ball and the challenge with himself – much like being in the outback with horses – is a process of mental relaxation, he explains. It has even been suggested by experts studying his swing that with more practice and fine-tuning, he could make the grade as a professional.

“No, I don’t think so,” Canelo adds. “You know, it’s very hard, golf is very hard. To be a professional you need to start young, and I think it would be very hard for me to be a genuine professional player, but I want to play tournaments, amateur tournaments, and that’s it really and just enjoy it as a pastime.”

Triumph over Ryder on Saturday night at the raucous Estadio Akron, and Wembley Stadium could be the draw later in the year in a rematch against Dmitry Bivol, also promoted by Hearn, or one of the British light heavyweights lining up for a history-making fight.

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