No trash talk. No drama. Just two deadly serious, focused fighters.
That was the tone at the kickoff news conference Tuesday afternoon in New York City to promote the pay-per-view fight between undisputed champions Canelo Alvarez and Jermell Charlo on Sept. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The fighters demonstrated nothing but respect for one another — even shaking hands after their stare down — and promised a battle to remember.
“I’m happy to be in this position right now, in the big fights,” said Alvarez, the 168-pound champion. “Jermell Charlo is a great fighter, the undisputed champion in his weight class (154). He takes challenges like me.
“I always take risks. We love being involved in these kind of fights.”
Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KOs) was expected to face Charlo’s brother, 160-pound titleholder Jermall Charlo. However, promoters threw everyone a curve when they announced the smaller, but more accomplished sibling would be the opponent.
The Mexican star has been at or near the top of all pound-for-pound lists while Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) has steadily climbed them, the result of a series of high-profile victories.
And while Charlo has never taken part in a super fight like this one, he seemed to handle the bright spotlight well at the opening news conference at Palladium Times Square.
He looked intense, perhaps a bit nervous as he walked to the center stage after he was introduced. However, he was at ease during his opening statement and when he fielded questions from moderator Brian Custer of Showtime.
The big question for Charlo is size, as he will be moving up two weight classes to face a future Hall of Famer. Charlo is taller than Alvarez and didn’t look appreciably thinner but he’s accustomed to trading punches with 154-pounders, not those at 168.
He acknowledged the challenge but believes the importance of size is overblown.
“A lot of guys are worrying about the wrong things,” he said, “moving up in weight, doing this and doing that. When you want to win something this big you gotta risk it all. That’s part of this moment.”
He added later: “I know I’m moving up two weight divisions. Who cares? Who gives a damn? That won’t stop how I do it and the way I do it. I’m excited for this moment.”
Alvarez was more relaxed when he walked to the middle of the stage, smiling and waving to those in attendance. He has been here a million times.
He’s clearly motivated, though. The long-time face of the sport is arguably at a crossroads. He lost his first fight in almost a decade when he was easily outpointed by 175-pound champ Dmitry Bivol in May of last year and he looked so-so in subsequent decisions over rival Gennadiy Golovkin and John Ryder.
As a result, many have come to the conclusion that Alvarez is in decline at 33, this in spite of the fact that he has been fighting with an injured left wrist. He had surgery after the Golovkin fight.
He implied two things on Tuesday: that his wrist is fully healed and that the magnitude of the event has lit a fire underneath him.
“It’s good that people are talking about that,” Alvarez said. “It’s fine. I don’t look good in these two past fights … but I know why. But I’m ready, I’m different now. I prepare myself for different kinds of fights. Every fight is different.
“This is a different fight. And I’m focused on it.”
Charlo also is motivated by those who might dismiss him, meaning both men have something to prove. That could be the theme of this matchup.
“I just really want to quiet by haters, quiet my doubters,” he said, “to turn non-believers into believers. I’ve watched a bunch of different examples of great people in the sport of boxing. I think this is the best time and the best moment for me. … When the moment presented itself, under the PBC banner, it was a no brainer to make it happen.
“Yeah, we both have mandatories, we both have different things. But the hell with that when you have something as big as this.”