After months of build-up, Canelo Álvarez and Julio César Chávez Jr. have finally made it to Las Vegas ahead of their May 6th bout at the T-Mobile Arena. As part of the traditional week-of press blitz, both boxers sat down for interviews during the so-called “Grand Arrivals” day on Tuesday, and the pettiness coming out of the desert do not disappoint.
The highlight of Canelo’s interview was his frustration about the continuing feud with the World Boxing Council (WBC), which has been going on since last year, when the Mexican boxing authority demanded that Álvarez face off with Gennady Golovkin or face being stripped of his middleweight title. Canelo chose to lose the belt rather than rush into a fight with the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world; he also had ongoing legal troubles at the time, as a Miami judge ordered him to pay $8.5 million to his old promoters, All-Star Boxing.
Due to that controversy, Canelo stated that he will not accept the WBC’s huichol-crafted belt if he beats Chávez Jr. on Saturday. “The WBC made the belt knowing I would reject it,” he said. “They want to make me look like the bad guy. I respect the Huichol people. I fought many fights in Nayarit.”
The normally amicable Canelo also showed his displeasure at the media on Tuesday, complaining that he’s not being properly credited for moving up a weight class to face much larger Chávez Jr.: “Many people in the media say I have the advantage because I’m the one moving up in weight. But when I was fighting guys who were moving up in weight, they said I had an advantage because they were moving up.”
For his part, Chávez needled Canelo’s Miami legal troubles when talking about the now-cancelled unofficial purse bet made in the lead up to the fight. “When you have millions on the line, you need that in writing,” said Chávez Jr., also noting that his dad, the legendary Julio César Chávez, did not want the bet to happen. “Besides, I don’t think (Alvarez) can afford to lose that money after what happened in Miami.”
Those are bold words from the younger Chávez, given his stance that the rivalry has been fabricated from the Canelo camp, a stance he doubled down on on Tuesday. “He created this rivalry, and maybe he felt he needed to because I was the one getting the television attention,” he said, stating that he had met Canelo once before this fight cycle, and that he had no prior ill will towards his fellow Mexican fighter. “If I didn’t exist, he wouldn’t exist, either.”
At this rate, the weigh-in on Friday will be must-watch television, as both Canelo and Chávez Jr. have to be chomping at the bit to go face-to-face prior to their in-ring meeting on Saturday night.