Saul “Canelo” Alvarez rubbed his hands together and spoke in a disappointed tone while sitting next to the ring at his private gym in San Diego.
In team sports, the pinnacle is playing in the championship game or series. In boxing, the top is fighting in the main event of a Las Vegas megabout during Cinco de Mayo weekend or Mexican Independence weekend in September.
Alvarez regularly fights on the two significant dates, just like Floyd Mayweather did before and Oscar De La Hoya before that.
“It felt strange not fighting on Cinco de Mayo,” Alvarez, 28, said in Spanish. “And I think the people in Las Vegas also felt strange not having the fight.”
For the first time in a decade, Las Vegas didn’t have a megabout for Cinco de Mayo. Mexican flags didn’t wave for grand arrivals. Fight fans didn’t flood the MGM Grand casino floor after a raucous weigh-in.
The usual activities throughout the first week of May were canceled this year along with the middleweight rematch between Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin at T-Mobile Arena.
On May 5, a suspended Alvarez was in front of a television watching Golovkin knock out Vanes Martirosyan in two rounds at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Alvarez was hit with a sixth-month suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission a month before the May rematch for twice testing positive in February for the banned substance clenbuterol.
The ban has been lifted. The biggest star in boxing is ready for his close-up.
Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 knockouts) will end his one-year hiatus Saturday when he faces Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) at T-Mobile Arena for an HBO pay-per-view main event.
The buzz will return to the MGM Grand casino floor for Tuesday’s grand arrivals and Wednesday’s final news conference. With the rematch expected to be bigger than the first bout, Friday’s weigh-in will take place at T-Mobile Arena instead of the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The floor once again belongs to Alvarez. But will the Mexican superstar get the same rousing ovation?
Alvarez said clenbuterol was in his system because he ate contaminated meat in Mexico, not because he was looking for a competitive edge.
In July, Alvarez seemed agitated when asked about the failed drug tests. He wanted to move forward, but the subject will come up often throughout fight week.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Alvarez said about fielding tough questions. “The way I answered you will be the same way I answer them during fight week.”
This black cloud will hang over Alvarez, but he has Golovkin to worry about, and the possibility of having ring rust.
Alvarez has never gone this long without a fight since turning pro at 15.
“I don’t know if it will be different because it’s never happened to me,” Alvarez said. “I’ve never been inactive this long. The most was nine months, and it didn’t affect me because I’m always training, exercising and sparing.”
The last time Alvarez was in the ring, he was shaking his head after the bout with Golovkin was scored a split draw last September at T-Mobile Arena.
Alvarez said the one positive from not fighting in May was having enough time to undergo knee surgery to remove a cyst.
“It was going to affect me if I fought in May,” Alvarez said. “I kept telling (trainer) Eddy (Reynoso) it doesn’t matter. I’ll fight like this anyway.”
With a repaired knee and a lot to prove, Alvarez enters another major fight week.
Canelo-GGG 2 fight week
Tuesday: Grand Arrivals
MGM Grand main lobby, 12 p.m.
Gennady Golovkin, 12:45 p.m.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, 1:15 p.m.
Wednesday: Undercard open workouts
MGM Grand casino floor next to sports book, 3 p.m.
Roman Gonzalez and Gary O’Sullivan, 4 p.m.
David Lemieux and Jaime Munguia, 4:30 p.m.
T-Mobile Arena, doors open at Noon
Weigh-in begins, 2 p.m.
PPV fighters weigh-in, 2:30 p.m.
Saturday: Fight night
T-Mobile Arena, doors open at 2 p.m.
HBO PPV starts at 5 p.m.