When Rolling Stone asked Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez to share his pre-fight playlist with us ahead of his much-anticipated match against Gennady Golovkin on Saturday, we had some assumptions about what we’d get. Perhaps “Dákiti” by Bad Bunny. Maybe some pumped-up corridos, since he’s so proud of his Mexican heritage. Or self-empowering songs: “El Rey” by Vicente Fernández?
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What he sent us, though, was a list of Mexican songs, yes. But much more mellower ones than we anticipated. There’s a pair of songs from Calibre 50 alum Edén Muñoz — the swaying “Creo En Ti” about being committed to a love interest — and a trio of tracks by Carín León, including album bonus track “Qué Más Puedo Pedir.” There’s breakup ballad “Ya Acabó” by Marca MP with Becky G.
Álvarez cracks a smile when talking about the songs he chose. He knew we’d be surprised. “It’s about what makes me feel motivated,” he says over Zoom from his boxing studio in San Diego. “I like listening to calmer songs with good lyrics.”
The tracks show a rather romantic side of Álvarez, who admits that he “transforms himself” whenever he enters the ring. Outside of it? He’s much softer. “Soy totalmente diferente,” he says. “I’m completely different.”
From his Mexican pride to the special moments he shared with icon Joan Sebastián, here’s what Canelo had to say about his music taste (and his big fight):
Excited to chat with you. What has the process been like before facing GGG?
Everything is going great, thank god. We’ve been training really hard. We’re ready. It’s a complicated process after being defeated in my last fight and now having this difficult one ahead of us. But I like that. This is what I love. I enjoy this. At the end of the day, I’m lucky to be where I am, giving everyone a high-caliber fight.
What is motivating you on the personal side as you prepare?
I love boxing. I love what I do. Having new challenges is what moves me forward. I want to be one of the best in the history of boxing and I’m on my way to that.
I was shown a playlist of songs that you listen to before entering the ring. I was a little surprised by it. You’d expect Metallica-
[smiles] Rock and things like that, right? Things that sound like motivation? To be honest, I love listening to romantic music. Mexican music. I just enjoy it. That’s what makes me feel good. These are the songs I like to sing. They inspire me so much. When I listen to them, I feel good. It’s about what makes me feel motivated. I like listening to calmer music with good lyrics.
When we think of someone like Canelo, we think of this tough person. You’re literally a fighter. But this music shows a side that’s a lot softer. Talk to me about Canelo outside of the ring.
When I get in the ring I transform into another person. But when I’m outside of it: I’m a romantic, I sing. I’m a different person.
These are super Mexican songs. You are someone who represents Mexico on an international level. Do you feel this connection with this patriotism when you listen to these songs?
I feel it too much. When I hear these songs I want to drink some tequila but I can’t because I’m in training but I feel that passion for being Mexican. The pride of being Mexican. It moves me. There’s nothing like Mexican music, I don’t want to disrespect any other genre, but there’s nothing like Música Mexicana. As Mexicans, we’re just moved by music.
As a represenatitive of our culture, do you feel a responsibility to represent Mexico at the highest levels?
Always. That comes with this job. I’m proud of being able to represent the green, white, and red wherever I am. I feel so much pride and when I see everything of those colors in other countries, it means the most. And more when during dates like Mexican Independence Day.
Are you friends with any of the artists on this list?
Which song do you like most on this playlist?
“Eso y Más.” That one has to be played every day. Joan Sebastián has always been so important to me. I was able to meet him before he died. His lyrics were important in my personal life. And I take him wherever I go. I went to his concerts. We went horse riding. We had intimate moments with our friends, sharing stories. We lived a few special moments together. I sing his songs at every party.
Música Mexicana is having such a massive moment. It’s interesting how to see how our culture is more than just regional. It goes past that. What do you think of that.
It makes me happy to see the success. I just want to see our paisanos do well and I’m really proud of them. Carin, Grupo Firme, Julión, who was able to fix his issues [with the law].
Canelo Álvarez’s Pre-Fight playlist
“¡Qué Bonito!” – Rosario
“Chale” – Edén Muñoz
“Creo en Ti” – Edén Muñoz
“Eso y Más” – Joán Sebástian
“Ya Acabó” – Marca MP ft. Becky G
“Calidad” – Grupo Firme ft. Luis Mexia
“Afuera Está Lloviendo” – Julión Álvarez
“Cómo Lo Hice Yo” – Matisse ft. Carín León
“Qué Más Puedo Pedir” – Carín León
“Ahora Estoy Mejor” – Left Sm ft. Carín León
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