The well-decorated trainer of Canelo Álvarez breaks down the Sweet Science ahead of Canelo's showdown with Caleb Plant for the undisputed 168-pound title Saturday night on SHOWTIME.
This Saturday, November 6, boxing’s pound-for-pound best and unified WBC/WBA/WBO World Super Middleweight Champion Saul “Canelo” Álvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) takes on undefeated IBF World Super Middleweight Champion Caleb “Sweethands” Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) in a highly anticipated showdown to crown the first ever undisputed 168-pound world champion.
The event, presented by Premier Boxing Champions, will be broadcast live on SHOWTIME PPV (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
A native of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, the 31-year-old Álvarez started boxing at 13 under the guidance of Eddy Reynoso and the latter’s father, Jose “Chepo” Reynoso. As a pro, Álvarez has racked up quite the resume, including winning world titles in four weight divisions.
Through it all, Eddy Reynoso has been in Alvarez’s corner. Reynoso took the time to sit down and discuss the fundamentals of boxing and how Canelo Álvarez uses them in the ring.
It All Starts with the Jab
In some of Álvarez’s recent performances, he can be seen using his hook to surprise and disrupt the rhythm of his opponent. In effect, it’s similar to how Álvarez primarily used the jab earlier in his career.
“We have been working hard at perfecting the jab and the hook for years now,” Reynoso said. “The hook is really in the nature of a Mexican fighter. If you don’t know how to land a good hook to the body, then you’re not a Mexican fighter, really.
“We’ve been working on the jab, we’ve been working on landing the hook high and low as well. It’s really a combination of [the right punches] to complement our defense with our offense.”
Álvarez has an excellent uppercut, which served him well most recently in May against southpaw Billy Joe Saunders. In that bout, Alvarez landed his damaging right uppercut consistently from the second round onward.
“That was something we planned for the Saunders fight specifically,” Reynoso explained. “We had seen that that Saunders would lean forward when he wanted to punch with his straight left. So we worked on a counter where Canelo would take a step back, and counter with the uppercut. It was something we worked on in camp.
“It’s really something that anybody can do if they practice it with consistency. You do repetition after repetition until you perfect it and you’re able to counter where you’re not even thinking about it—your muscle memory takes over.
“It’s kind of the same move that he pulled against Caleb Plant in that press conference,” Reynoso added with a laugh.
Álvarez has always displayed exceptional hand speed, which makes his counters that much harder to see coming, and his speed hasn’t diminished much as he’s moved up in weight over the years.
“It comes down to that age-old question: are you born with it or is it something that can be nurtured?” said Reynoso. “In Canelo’s case, he always had fast hands, ever since he was little. He always had that endurance, that speed, that cunning. And then once he was under my tutelage, since he was very young, we worked on refining it. We managed to refine it little by little, and now, he has very fast hands for a super middleweight. And that’s something we continue to work on to this day.”
“ The hook is really in the nature of a Mexican fighter. ” Trainer - Eddy Reynoso
Footwork and Positioning
Now that Álvarez competes at super middleweight, his 5-foot-8 stature often means that he’s several inches shorter than his opponents. So far it hasn’t mattered. Canelo utilizes direct and economic footwork to maneuver to positions that are good for him, not so good for his opponent.
"I fully believe that Canelo is one of the few fighters at the moment who puts such emphasis on his leg work,” Reynoso said. “It’s a big part of his success. Even when you think that you might know it all, you don’t. You always have to look and try to emulate something from the great fighters of another era.
“So, in our case, in the leg work part of it, we wanted to emulate what Willie Pep and ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson did. We emulated their leg work. We watched them on tape and we wanted to see how we could do it, if not as good as them, to see how they did it and see what we could take from them.
“That’s how we do it. We take the best from legends of other eras and try to bring it to our own benefit.”
Protect Yourself At All Times
Over the years, Álvarez has honed his defensive skills, particularly his impressive head and upper body movement. He rarely gets hit clean.
“It’s all about synchronization, or what you Americans call timing,” Reynoso said. “It’s all about mind, body being coordinated. The movement of your waist, the movement of your head, the pace of your punches—they all have to be in harmony. That way your defense will improve on its own, just by the fact that you’re synchronized and in harmony with your own body.”
Canelo has proven to be a master at controlling distance.
“It’s all about waist movement, and leg work,” said Reynoso. “You can’t just walk the ring and expect to be able to keep your distance effectively. It’s about being able to cut distance without losing your leverage, and then being able to zig zag and having your leg work in sync with your waist movement in order to be at the distance you want.”
“When I first talked to Canelo, one of the first things he told me as a 13-year-old was he wanted to be like the Mexican legends who were world champions,” Reynoso recalled. “That’s when I knew this kid is something special.
“Mental toughness is a Mexican thing, really. When a Mexican athlete puts his mind to it, he can achieve absolutely anything. It’s just a matter of knowing what you want to go after and going after it no matter what. And never giving up. That’s how Mexicans are born and raised. It’s a staple of our culture.”
Reynoso teaches his fighters specific things in the gym to help prepare them for the adversity that can happen in the ring on fight night.
“I preach that breathing is absolutely vital to having mental fortitude. Breathing will educate you and being educated and being aware of things that have happened in the past or can happen in the future is a big cornerstone of being ready for whatever situation a fight or life might throw your way.”
For a closer look at Canelo vs Plant, check out our fight night page.
- Canelo vs Plant