Canelo Álvarez went from selling ice cream on the streets of Guadalajara, Mexico in his youth to being the crème de la crème of boxing.
Álvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) breaks the bank to the tune of nearly $40 million every time he graces a ring. The perennial pound-for-pound king and four-division champion will go down as one of the greatest fighters of his generation.
Álvarez will look to add to his legacy when he takes on WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, continuing his lucrative tradition of fighting during Cinco De Mayo week.
Álvarez plans to fight another seven years, and should he beat Bivol, a tantalizing trilogy against nemesis Gennadiy Golovkin awaits during Mexican Independence Day weekend on September 17.
Trust is central to everything Álvarez does.
The day after Álvarez Caleb Plant punished and pulverized in November, to further mark his supremacy, he celebrated the only way he knew how to do – heading towards Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas to feed his growing obsession with golf.
Álvarez operates by the ‘No Boxing, No Life’ mantra, but once he ditches his gloves he will seek greener pastures with a golf club. His goal is to be good enough to consider pursuing a career as a professional golfer, having started the sport in May 2019.
“Golf is competitive and I’m very competitive. That’s why I love him,” Álvarez told The Times. at his gym in San Diego.
Golf has become Álvarez’s release, distracting him from the rigorous routines required to be a boxer, and he makes it look kinda easy as his golf highlights are now going viral with his knockouts.
His handicap is currently at 10, he said. Last June, Alvarez won a celebrity tournament in South Carolina.
“I’m not coming to play. I come to win,” Álvarez wrote in an Instagram post.
At an AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am event in February, Álvarez came to a foot to hole-in-one on the par three 17th hole.
When he lands impressive putts, he shadow boxes.
Take a look at his online presence, and it’s filled with as many images of him swinging a stick as he is swinging opponents.
Golf helped bring out another side of Álvarez’s personality. The development coincided with her improving English proficiency after years of speaking exclusively Spanish.
But he’s honest with his self-assessment, acknowledging that one day he can play golf and the next he can play badly.
“Golf is a really tough sport, and it’s a tough sport to be a pro. You have to be a golfer from your youth,” Álvarez said. “I consider myself a two-sport guy, but I don’t don’t know if I’m a star or not yet in golf.”
Álvarez’s above-par game is even more impressive when you consider that he didn’t grow up around a sport primarily reserved for the wealthy.
“I love what golf brings to my life. It’s a challenge for me to be a better golfer and a better player. Golf calms me in my personal life, and boxing too.
— Canelo Alvarez
Although the PGA Tour staged the Mexican Open in Puerto Vallarta last weekend, Mexico is not considered a hotbed for producing golfers. Only three native Mexicans have won a PGA event. In 2020, Carlos Ortiz became the first Mexican to win an event in more than 40 years.
Álvarez will represent Mexico in a nine-hole USA vs. World tag team tournament at Liberty National in New Jersey on June 30.
“The Icons series is a big tournament and for me, I represent my country. I’m really happy to be part of it,” says Álvarez.
Thomas Brookes, Founder and CEO of The series of iconssays Álvarez can be transcendent beyond boxing’s borders as a powerful influencer for Mexico and can grow the game to diverse audiences just like Tiger Woods did.
“Golf has its stereotypes. It’s not a sport you would associate with a Hispanic fighter. It’s just rare,” says Brookes. “Canelo’s passion for golf will help develop the sport in Mexico, there is no doubt. He will probably have more influence on the growth of golf in Mexico than a professional Mexican golfer because so many Mexicans love boxing.
Brookes said it would not be uncommon to see fans flocking to Álvarez outside of his fights to watch him play golf.
“They want to see him in a different way – how he talks, how he thinks, how he behaves and competes in a different environment. It’s really interesting,” Brookes said. “I’m going to put it in the category to watch [as a top athlete-turned-golfer]. With the ridiculous amount of time he’s been training, there’s no doubt he could improve on his handicap.
Álvarez plays golf with his entourage as well as his famous friends. He left end to end and traded blows with Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, games played with Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and hit him with retired Mexican goalkeeper Jorge Campos.
Álvarez’s favorite golfer is Woods, and if he could get a dream team together for one game, the foursome would include Woods, Michael Jordan and Brooks Koepka.
Before he can think more about dream golf dates, he has to deal with a potential nightmare in Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs). Álvarez will fight for only the second time at 175 pounds when he takes on the Russian.
How did Álvarez prepare for a fight that will no doubt be uncomfortable against a larger, technically sound boxer who excels at ranged sparring?
By hitting the range, of course.
From Monday to Saturday during the training camp, Álvarez trained in boxing for three hours in the morning, and at the end, he jumped in his Bugatti and headed straight to the Del Mar Country Club to play for four hours in the afternoon.
Once his golf cravings are satisfied, he returns home to his wife, Fernanda. He rested, ate, spent time with his family and stuck to the Golf Channel before finishing the day with another 90-minute boxing workout.
“My wife is always mad at me, but I love golf. I tell her there are a lot of TVs in the house – you can put whatever you want on top of the Golf Channel,” jokes Álvarez.
Álvarez admits he is addicted to golf.
“I don’t play golf to be a better boxer. I play golf because I love golf,” he said. “I love what golf brings to my life. It’s a challenge for me to be a better golfer and a better player. Golf calms me in my personal life, and boxing too.
Eddie Hearn, head of Matchroom Boxing, who served as Alvarez’s main promoter since the fighter parted ways by Oscar De La Hoya in 2020, meets the appetite of Álvarez by organizing a mini-golf in his hotel room and golf facilities on hotel floors during fight weeks.
Just as Álvarez has two-time Coach of the Year and lifelong confidant Eddy Reynoso in his boxing corner, he also has a team of golf coaches showing him the ropes on the links.
“He loves golf as much as anyone I’ve ever seen,” says Aaron Dexheimer, a former PGA Tour player who coached Álvarez. “The one thing that strikes me is his dedication to improvement. It’s pretty amazing to see his confidence. It’s a testament to who he is as a boxer. With him still having the belief that he won’t fail you can learn a lot from it We all doubt ourselves and golf is an extremely difficult game but I’ve never seen him doubt himself He may not have executed what he wanted, but it wasn’t because he didn’t think he could do it. That’s what you need to be a great golfer.
Dexheimer says Álvarez’s work ethic and mental approach are on par with some of the best golfers he has coached.
“If you ask him to hit a shot 150 times, he will literally hit it 150 times. He understands hard work and what it takes,” Dexheimer says. “If he decides to be a professional golfer, it will be a question of transferring his body. I’m sure he can do it perfectly because that’s what he’s doing now with boxing and he’s not taking any shortcuts doing it. His future in golf is all he wants with it.
Before Álvarez can focus on hitting another ball, he needs to focus on hitting Bivol and the fuss that comes with fight week.
Álvarez promises a win and hopes to leave the ring without a scratch.
And he has a festive tee time to do Sunday morning at Shadow Creek.