Rivalry between Canelo Álvarez and Oscar De la Hoya adds needed spice to fight weekend

Promoter Oscar De La Hoya threw the first punch at the pride of Canelo Álvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) after a cordial news conference with rival Jaime Munguia (43-0, 34 KOs) in Beverly Hills .

“Yesterday’s press conference was boring, like Canelo’s fights,” De la Hoya posted on X a day after the March news conference.

Immediately after, in an interview with L.A. Times en Español, Álvarez responded by calling De La Hoya a promoter who only “says stupid things.”

On Wednesday in Las Vegas, the two had another intense round of insults, in an event that was anything but boring.

While the rivalry can be comical at times, full of Álvarez’s bilingual insults toward one of boxing’s most controversial characters, it is what this Cinco de Mayo weekend fight needed. Álvarez will face an undefeated former champion from Tijuana, Munguia, who says little and has only shown respect for his prizefighter opponent when discussing the super middleweight contest this Saturday (5 p.m., DAZN PPV, PPV.com) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The Álvarez and De La Hoya spat helped a fight that lacked spice because of Munguia’s deep respect for Canelo. To be fair, Munguia has always been respectful of his opponents and is not known for talking out of turn. However, he has promised that respect will not be reflected when it comes time to step into the ring, becoming the first Mexican opponent Álvarez will face since he defeated Julio César Chávez Jr. in 2017.

De La Hoya provoked Álvarez by demanding respect for his company, noting he represented Álvarez from 2010-20. He also mentioned that Álvarez failed two drug tests in 2018, a strategy Canelo’s rivals have used in the past to upset him.

De La Hoya, an Olympic medalist and 10-time world champion in six different divisions, is known for lobbing insults, but the challenge he issued to Álvarez was unique.

“He seems to have trouble remembering who helped him become a true world star. To be clear, I have nothing but respect for Canelo Álvarez as a boxer. His record and skills speak for themselves, but he has spent much of the last two months insulting me, instead of promoting this fight,” De La Hoya said when it came time to step up to the podium.

“The company you’ve fought under for decades has always had a name, and it’s mine.”

Shortly after, Álvarez stood on stage and the two men stood eye-to-eye less than 10 feet apart before being separated.

“For this imbecile … don’t let him forget that I came to the United States as Canelo and he only profited with my name. He made money,” Álvarez responded to De La Hoya.

The rivalry between Álvarez and De La Hoya runs deep, with both having seen each other in court .

Álvarez filed a lawsuit in 2020 in Los Angeles federal court against Golden Boy Promotions, De La Hoya and DAZN, alleging breach of contract. He sought at least $280 million in damages after a $365 million, 11-fight deal he signed with DAZN in 2018 fell apart. De La Hoya, DAZN and Álvarez disagreed over which fighters the Mexican should face, which is why the contract spanned just three fights.

The lawsuit was settled in 2020, with De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions releasing Álvarez from his contract. Álvarez been a free agent since, working with promoters such as Matchroom and PBC. This fight marks the first time Álvarez has worked with Golden Boy Promotions and De La Hoya, who are Munguía’s co-promoters, along with Fernando Beltrán’s Promociones Zanfer, a well-known Mexican promoter who managed the career of legendary Tijuana native Erik Morales, and who was the main negotiator brokering the Canelo-Munguía fight.

During Wednesday’s news conference, Canelo reminded De La Hoya about a 2022 lawsuit filed by Gennady Golovkin against Golden Boy Promotions, during which he sought $3 million owed from the Kazakhstan native’s second bout against Álvarez. De La Hoya argued everyone associated with the fight was paid what they were owed.

“If I hadn’t gotten my lawyers in to do an audit, I could have been robbed of millions of dollars,” Álvarez told reporters on Wednesday.

While De La Hoya and Álvarez verbally sparred, Munguia was smiling, hidden behind dark glasses. On Saturday, he will have to prove he has the talent and enough to disrespect to best Álvarez in the ring.

Munguia has elite hand speed, a solid jaw, is physically bigger than Canelo and can deliver a high volume of punches. Nicknamed “Tatanka [Buffalo,]” Munguia is six years younger than Álvarez, although many consider this a disadvantage given the Jalisco native’s extensive experience in championship fights.

Munguia won the World Boxing Organization super welterweight belt in 2018 when he defeated Sadam Ali by knockout, a crown he defended five times before moving up to middleweight in 2020 where he picked up wins starting with Gary O’Sullivan. In 2023, he moved up to super middleweight against the tricky Sergiy Derevyanchenko to earn a close unanimous decision. Earlier this year he beat John Ryder by knockout, something Álvarez was unable to do last year.

However, Munguia is not known for having a solid defense, a flaw Álvarez could exploit with his dangerous uppercut and counter punch that has made him a champion in four different divisions and the winningest Mexican boxer in history.

Álvarez is a —600 favorite at the books (bet $600 to win $100), while Munguia is +425 (win $425 for every $100).

“You’re going to see action inside the ring, that’s the most important thing,” Munguia said ahead of the contest, during which Álvarez will risk his four super middleweight belts. “It’s a fight where you’re going to see a lot of punches and there will be a lot of action for the fans.”

This article first appeared in Spanish on L.A. Times en Español.

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