LOS ANGELES – Mexican bragging rights, and a possible middleweight world title shot, will be on the line in Las Vegas Saturday when Saul "Canelo" Alvarez takes on Julio Chavez Jr. in a Cinco de Mayo weekend fight.
Alvarez, the reigning World Boxing Organization super welterweight world champion and a former middleweight world champ, is a heavy favorite as he steps up to a catchweight of 74.62 kg.
With a record of 48-1 with one drawn and 34 knockouts, Alvarez rides a streak of six victories into the bout at the T-Mobile Arena, including knockouts of Amir Khan and Liam Smith in his last two fights.
Chavez boasts a record of 50-2-1 with 32 knockouts and is a former middleweight world champion. But his erratic career trajectory includes a positive test for marijuana and in recent years trouble making weight.
Critics – including Alvarez – claim Chavez would never have gotten away with his lack of professionalism if it wasn't for the reverence with which his father, Julio Cesar Chavez, is regarded among Mexican fight fans.
"I think a lot of his fans are more his father's fans than his, and his fans follow his father, what his father says," Alvarez said in the build-up to the fight. "He himself has not had a real disciplined career.
"He is not a role model for the young children and the young fighters," said Alvarez, who was infuriated by Chavez's digs over his failure to make a fight with unbeaten Kazakh Gennady Golovkin.
Alvarez dumped his World Boxing Council middleweight world belt last year when the sanctioning body gave him a 15-day window to make a fight with Golovkin after the Mexican's knockout victory over Khan.
Alvarez is still incensed that the WBC handed the title to Golovkin. He said this week that if Saturday's bout does springboard him into a bout with the 37-0 Kazakh – who scrapped plans for a June fight against Billy Joe Saunders to be ready for a possible big-money Alvarez clash – it will happen "without the WBC".
"For all of the other titles, but not theirs," Alvarez said.