By Felipe Leon
Photo: Leopoldo Gonzalez
In an atmosphere of celebration with Banda music and a Norteño band in between fights, nearly twelve thousand southern California fight fans and millions watching HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” witnessed history as undefeated golden child Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (36-0-1, 26 KOs) became the youngest super welterweight to capture a title as he defeated Matthew Hatton (41-5-2, 16KOs) for the vacant WBC strap.
With the gold and green belt firmly on his shoulder, Alvarez addressed the substantial amount of media gathered in the bowls of Anaheim, CA’s Honda Center, “I am very happy in reaching this first dream. Matthew was a very good opponent, a tough opponent who had enough experience to know how to survive when I had him hurt.”
“There is no excuses but I’m a 20-year-old kid,” the Guadalajara, MX, native stated. “There were many things that tried to distract me, family problems, very personal issues and lawsuits. I want to prove that I will be here for a long time to come.”
Oscar De La Hoya, President of Golden Boy Promotions and Alvarez’s promoter, gave his opinion of the fight and his star fighter, “I predicted this fight, and I told you guys that this was going to be a long and tough fight for both. Hatton came to fight, he took some big shots and he gave them too.”
“I am happy that ‘Canelo’ can create such a big buzz,” De La Hoya said. “People like him and respect him because he works hard. He comes from nothing and he made it. ‘Canelo’ is taking the title back to Mexico but he wants to capture the American market.”
As far as the other side of the equation, Manchester, England’s Matthew Hatton, had nothing but praise for the young Alvarez, “It was a tough fight. He is a great fighter for a twenty year old. I am sure he is going to do some wonderful things in his career. I was never hurt in the fight but I was really surprised with his punch variety, especially for a twenty year old.”
“I am glad I fought him at twenty and not twenty-five, let me put it that way,” the younger brother of Ricky Hatton quipped. “I don’t think he has many weaknesses. Maybe tighten up his defense; I felt I could hit him pretty easily. It is pretty disheartening as a fighter to hit somebody with everything and nothing happens. He was just too big; 8 pounds the night of the fight were a big difference.”
As expected, talk of the future what was mentioned for both fighters with a proposed fight laid out for Hatton while a denial of another for Alvarez.
“In the last twelve to eighteen months we have seen Matthew come out of his own, from the shadow of his brother,” Richard Schaeffer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, said. “With this fight and the heart that he showed, Matthew solidified his name in the U.S. I know that Hatton will be welterweight champion and I will do all in my power to give him that opportunity. A fight we are considering is for Hatton to take on the winner of Berto-Ortiz.”
For Alvarez, his next opponent was not as easily defined but one fighter was clearly stated as not in the future plans of the newly minted champ.
“The world wants to see that fight,” De La Hoya said of a proposed mega fight between Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. “The reality is that they fight in different weight classes. Right now we are focused on Alvarez’s career. Maybe that fight will happen but it won’t be in the next two to three fights for ‘Canelo’”.
With microphone in hand, De La Hoya did not hesitate to help drop the temperature even more of the cold war between Golden Boy and Top Rank even if De La Hoya refused to even say the name of his biggest competitor.
“The problem is that his promoter doesn’t like to work with other promoters,” De La Hoya said of Bob Arum. “We are in the boxing business while they are in their business, maybe in a year or two that fight can be made but not right now.”
Also given a shot at the podium was the winner of the controversial semi-main event bout Adrien “The Problem” Broner (20-0, 16KOs). With former world champion Aaron Pryor in his entourage, the super featherweight from Cincinnati, OH, defeated former world champion Daniel Ponce De Leon via a shocking unanimous decision. Many at ringside believed that Ponce De Leon (41-3, 34KOs) of Chihuahua, Mexico, deserved the nod but Broner was confident that he earned the win.
“First of all I have to give my respect to Ponce De Leon,” he said. “He came to fight, he wasn’t backing down. I stayed focused. You can’t hit what you can see, I took some shots but I gave more.”
With the majority Hispanic crowd in attendance, it was no secret that Broner was in hostile territory but Schaeffer believed that the young fighter took it in stride, “this was a hostile crowd. It was a good test for Adrien. It was great performance and we are looking to have him back on June 11th on another HBO card.”
Soon after, the slightly banged up Daniel Ponce De Leon stepped up to the podium to give his thoughts of the ten round match up.
“There is nothing that can be done, the decision has been made,” Ponce De Leon stated. “I feel like a winner. The judges saw a different fight. I am going to back to my weight class, featherweight. There will be no doubt in that division. I was offered this fight at 130 lbs. and I thought about it but I need to go back to mine.”
De La Hoya mentioned that they would look for a title opportunity for Ponce De Leon at featherweight while Schaeffer stated that they are looking for Jr. Middleweight James Kirkland, who made his return fight in an undercard where he disposed of his opponent in 30 seconds, to appear on the Morales-Maidana PPV card scheduled for April 9th.