Over 300 people packed into a room at the Gaylord Texan Hotel to see 26-year-old Canelo Alvarez, from Guadalajara, Mexico, grace the ring on Tuesday. Canelo’s fight against WBO Junior Middleweight champion Liam Smith of the U.K. on Saturday is anticipated by boxing fans worldwide.
Dallas boxing enthusiasts are clearly making the most of the fact that the high-profile match is taking place here. Many people skipped school and work to have shirts, hats and soccer jerseys signed by Alvarez, boxing’s most hyped star.
AT&T Stadium will host the fight, with ticket sales expected to surpass box office returns for 2010's Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito at roughly 42,000. Select portions of the proceeds will go to a charity chosen by the Dallas Police Department, in response to the July shootings.
Stadium and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he's planning to host two more boxing matches after this. "When we built this stadium, we wanted great championships to be a part of our legacy,” he says.
Dallas has produced some its own hot boxing prospects, such as Errol Spence and Charles Hatley. Hatley, the current holder of the WBC Silver Super Middleweight Championship belt, disrupted Fight Week at the Gaylord on Wednesday when he and his entourage forced their way toward the ring.
A few members of Hatley’s crew waved his championship belt in their air, while the others shouted “the real champ is here!” toward cameras. Fans there in support of the Alvarez vs. Smith fight shouted back curses and called for Hatley’s dismissal.
Few boxing fans perceive Hatley, or even Smith, as a real challenge to Alvarez. Only Gennady “GGG” Golovkin could pose a serious threat to his standing.
“[The fight] is going to be a good fight for him to get ready, but it's not the next step for him,” said attendee Ruben Hernandez.
But Oscar De La Hoya — CEO and chairman of Golden Boy Promotions, which is putting on the fight — predicts a spectacular night of boxing. HBO will be there to televise the action.
“Boxing fans [in Dallas] love their heroes, and Canelo Alvarez competing at AT&T Stadium will fill this place up,” he says.
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Fans favor Canelo Alvarez for his power and near-undefeated streak (he lost one match against Floyd Mayweather by judges' decision). Many fans, from De La Hoya to multiple attendees of Fight Week events at the Gaylord, predicted Alvarez will knock out Smith within six to eight rounds.
But Smith’s trainer Joe Gallagher is optimistic. He sees an opportunity for the undefeated Smith to establish himself as a name in the U.S. and is confident Smith will match Alvarez in power and ring intelligence.
“Body shots are key,” says Gallagher.
The fights begin at 2 p.m. at AT&T Stadium (1 AT&T Way, Arlington). Tickets start at $40 at ticketmaster.com.