Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 KOs) is a fighter whose relatively young age belies the huge experience he holds as a professional. The 24-year-old made his professional debut back in 2005 and will enter the ring as a professional for the 47th time this Saturday night against James Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs) at the Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.
A former world champion, the young Mexican is an old school fighter who has some very underrated boxing skills. This weekend he is expected to be in a potential war against Kirkland. Both men possess power, and all signs suggest they will not have to go looking for each other in the ring; a toe-to-toe slugfest could be on the cards. Alvarez' only loss came in 2013 when he lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather (and as we saw yet again at the weekend, Mayweather is a puzzle no one can solve). Since then, he has defeated Alfredo Angulo and, in his last outing on July 12, Erislandy Lara. Another victory this weekend will reinforce his credentials as one of the sport's biggest stars.
Men's Fitness caught up with the fighter in the run up to the this weekend's assignment.
How has training camp gone, and are you looking forward to getting back in the ring after such a long time out?
I feel very good. I feel ready. I have been ready and been preparing well for the fight.
Kirkland is a very powerful fighter and is known to be very dangerous puncher. What are you going to have to do to avoid his dangerous punches?
I have been preparing very well, working on my conditioning, stamina and power. I need to use my experience and be smarter than him. There are a few things I have been working on for this fight, but I have worked on everything a little bit for the night and for the fight so I come out victorious.
The Kirkland fight is at a catchweight of 155 pounds. Are you comfortable as a light middleweight (154 pounds), and do you plan to move up to the 160-pound middleweight division.
Well, you never know, but I am young and right now I feel very comfortable at this weight (154-155), and I feel very strong at the weight. I don't know [if in] the future I'll go up, most likely, but for now I feel very comfortable at that weight and will continue on.
This is your first fight back with HBO in some years. Why did you feel that HBO was the best place to continue your career?
I started my big fights on HBO and for most of my career I have been with HBO, and I now feel very comfortable going back to HBO. I think there are a lot of great fights and a lot more to come with HBO and that there is a very bright future.
Can you talk a little about your training—do you lift weights, or how do you prepare for your big fights?
I do a little bit of everything. I do work on a little bit of weights just to get my power up. I work a lot of conditioning and stamina. If I lift any weights I do it more for explosion, but I really use my body weight to build up muscle and strength. I like working with my own body weight, and I just do the best job I can to be healthy and strong, both before and after a fight.
With Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. losing recently, do you think that winning this fight against Kirkland will firmly establish you as the best young Mexican fighter around?
I really only worry about myself and this opportunity and my career. I go out and train hard every day so I can please my fans. I am just concerned with my future right now and what I need to do to make my future better.
Your last fight with Lara was more of a technical fight. Do you think the fight with Kirkland will be more fan-friendly as the two of you may stand toe-to-toe and have a war?
I’ve always thought that styles make fights. His style is one with a lot of action and a lot of punches. This fight will be a more attractive fight for the fans out there because both of us are forward fighters.
Do you have any last message for your fans ahead of the fight with Kirkland?
My goal is to be one of the best at 154 and one of the best fighters out there. But, I also understand and I know that I fight for my fans, and I want to make sure I give them a good fight.
Check out our Canelo Alvarez-inspired workouts: