By Jackie Kallen
I know that Josesito Lopez is a good fighter. He beat my kid Michael Dallas. He beat Victor Ortiz. He is strong and has never been stopped in 35 fights. But he has his work cut out against Saul Alvarez. At 40-0, with 29 knockouts, Canelo is on a helluva roll.
While in LA, I ran into Gary Shandling, who besides being a successful comic, is also an avid boxing fan. He told me that he is one of the owners of a very private boxing gym in Santa Monica. Tucked away on a cul-de-sac, the gym is now serving as a home-away-from-home for Canelo and his entourage. Shandling graciously invited me to check out the gym and watch Canelo train.
With his fight against Lopez just a little over three weeks away, Alvarez is busy getting himself ready–mentally as well as physically. With several of the key people from Golden Boy on hand, he quietly, but intensely, prepares. His focus is visible as he methodically goes from one exercise to another. Every move seems fluid and effortless as the 22-year old trains.
Francisco Santana, an affable junior middleweight from Santa Barbara was there to spar with Canelo. Having fought one of my former boxers twice, Santana and I are pretty well acquainted. He offered to serve as interpreter for me, since my Spanish is pathetically weak.
As I expected, Alvarez is a charmer. Young, handsome, and in amazing shape, he is open and friendly as well. With his distinctive red hair, and boyish smile, he is easy to spot in any gym. Though he works remarkably hard, he was comfortable chatting while getting ready to spar.
He seems very relaxed about the fight and doesn’t appear to feel that Lopez will be a problem. He said that he never under-estimates anyone, but believes that with the proper preparation and the right attitude, every opponent is beatable. He definitely has the right demeanor and attitude.
His sparring is controlled but thoughtful. He works on both offense and defense. He does not expend more than is necessary and will probably never leave his fight “in the gym.” His body shots are precise and perfectly placed. He rolls away from punches nicely and has excellent timing. Part if it is youth, I’m sure. But the other part is raw talent and deep desire. His WBC belt means a lot to him and he has no intention of losing it.
The September 15 card at the MGM Grand promises to be a good one. Besides the main event, there are several good fights on the undercard. Jhonny Gonzalez faces Daniel Ponce De Leon for the WBC featherweight title. Leo Santa Cruz fights Eric Morel for the IBF bantamweight belt and welterweight Marcos Maidana squares off against Jesus Soto Karass.
But it is the Alvarez fight that is the draw.
The biggest problem Golden Boy faces is the other fight down the road at the Thomas Mack Arena. It’s terrible planning (or vicious competition) that forces fans to choose between the MGM card and the Sergio Martinez/Julio Cesar Chavez, jr. fight. Both fights are well-matched. Both fights are for WBC belts. Both fights have the possibility of going either way. Yet fans in Vegas are only going to be able to see one.
It is always a tough decision when two fights are scheduled on the same night. But I, for one, will be right there to watch Canelo do his thing.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen