Last weekend I re-watched a bit of the old 1980s baseball comedy “Bull Durham.” In one part of the film, the veteran catcher, played by Kevin Costner, coaches the rookie pitching phenom, played by Tim Robbins, about the necessary phrases he’ll need to know to be ready to talk to the press. As Robbins listens intently, Costner proceeds to run down a list of sports cliches, such as “just being happy to be here” and “preparing the best I can.”
I thought of that scene again earlier this afternoon, when listening in on Canelo Alvarez’s last international media call, in advance of his November 21 showdown with WBC middleweight champion Miguel Cotto. If the media called in hoping for something juicy from the red-headed Mexican star, we certainly weren’t going to get it from him.
When asked by ESPN’s Dan Rafael what he had learned from his fight with Floyd Mayweather, Canelo answered “nothing in particular” and noted that he learns something from every fight. When asked a variation of the same question later in the call, he again asserted that “I learn everyday…I come to win and I learn everyday.”
When asked how he handled the pressure, Canelo Alavrez again revealed nothing significant in his answer: “I’m not worried about the pressure. I’ve had a lot of fights and I’ve learned a lot.”
Alvarez didn’t even bite when asked by Salvador Rodriguez of ESPN Deportes to respond to comments made by Miguel Cotto about “not being impressed” by Canelo’s team. “We don’t listen to our rivals,” Canelo Alvarez responded. “He can say what he wants. He’s a great champion.”
There is a reason that so many athletes makes such a point to give next to nothing truly interesting to the media when they talk to us. There’s enough pressure on athletes competing at the elite level without creating extra drama via your mouth. Talking to the press is a necessary part of the business. It’s part of promoting the event. But it doesn’t have to mean giving the press something to run with and use to create extra drama.
And the truth is, this fight hardly needs any extra hype. Miguel Cotto is a legend, preparing to defend his title against a bigger, younger star. Saul Alvarez is the most experienced and accomplished young fighter in thes sport, on the verge to following the proud tradition of such great Mexican champions as Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.
This is a fight that sells itself. The added element of Cotto representing Puerto Rico vs. the Mexican Alvarez is an extra pinch of flavor. Both nations boast a rich boxing history, with passionate fans. As Canelo’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, noted on the call, “History shows, when you put a Puerto Rican fighter and a Mexican one in the ring, you are guaranteed fireworks and excitement.”
This is one of 2015’s can’t-miss fights. Canelo Alvarez is young, but he’s smart enough to know that he doesn’t need to try to ad to the excitement by nothing he can add to the excitement by talking.