It’s always a difficult choice for a boxer to go to court to resolve a contract dispute because careers are so short, time is of the essence and court cases tend to drag out indefinitely.
At the height of his earning power, though, Canelo Alvarez willingly went to court because of what he saw as obstacles in his path to get back into the ring.
And on Saturday in San Antonio in a fight that will be streamed on DAZN and traditional pay-per-view, Alvarez will not only make his first appearance of 2020, but he’ll do so against an elite super middleweight in Callum Smith.
In September, already out of the ring for 11 months and with no fight in sight, Alvarez sued Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN. He was desperate to fight, and despite how notoriously long it takes to work out court cases, he believed that this was the only way to be able to get into the ring in 2020.
In November, though, a settlement was reached, followed quickly by the news that Alvarez would be challenging Smith for the WBA-WBC super middleweight belts.
“I went through a lot to be able to close the year like this, with this kind of a fight,” Alvarez told Yahoo Sports. “I did what I did [in filing suit] so I could become a free agent and see where the big fights were and go there.”
Alvarez is Yahoo Sports’ No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, and he’s well on his way to earning a berth in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. While he has proven that size isn’t the only consideration in a fight, there are limits to everything.
Alvarez is 5-feet, 8 inches tall with a 70 1/2-inch reach. Smith is 6-3 with a 78-inch reach. If it were a bout between a world-class fighter and a jabroni off the streets, the size wouldn’t make a difference. But Smith is a world-class fighter himself and has eight inches of height and seven-and-a-half inches of reach on Alvarez.
Alvarez, though, shrugged that off. Giving up some physical edge or another is part of the cost of doing business if you want to pit yourself against the best in the world.
“I know the risks, but I also have a strong desire to be the best,” he said. “He is considered the No. 1 middleweight in the world, so he was the No. 1 guy that I wanted. I believe in myself and I want to fight these kinds of fights.”
Late in their relationship, Alvarez made no secret of his disdain for Oscar De La Hoya, his former promoter and once a mentor for him. Their relationship was at the heart of the lawsuits Alvarez filed against Golden Boy and DAZN.
De La Hoya, who was one of the best fighters of his generation, is talking about a comeback at 47 and at one point even speculated about returning to fight Alvarez. Though there were times over the last 12 to 18 months where Alvarez must have dreamed of putting his hands on De La Hoya, he laughed off the notion that he’d ever fight his ex-promoter.
He icily said he wants to fight the best and intimated he’s not certain De La Hoya will ever fight.
“When Oscar gets in there and gets some hard sparring, [maybe] he’ll think differently [about coming back to boxing],” Alvarez said. “He’ll probably get it out of his system.”
Alvarez felt a desperate need to get back so he took a Hail Mary and went to court. It worked out perfectly for him and he now has the freedom to pick and choose who and when he fights and on what network.
He has maximum flexibility that should provide the greatest reward. If he wants to fight Caleb Plant, he won’t be encumbered by a television deal that would prevent or make it difficult.
Whoever makes the most sense, he’s gotten himself the most flexibility to get the fights.
“You have a limited time in this sport and you have to take advantage of it when you can,” Alvarez said. “I’m looking for all the best.”
For now, though, he’s focused on Smith. He’s already beaten one member of the Smith family, stopping Liam in a 2016 bout in Arlington, Texas.
Liam undoubtedly is sharing secrets with his big brother, but Alvarez is nonplussed.
“I have fought fighters with all different styles and so nothing I see will be a surprise,” Alvarez said. “Whatever style he has or whatever he tries to do, I will have seen it before. I am preparing hard and I’m ready for whatever challenge or threat I may see.”
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