By Mauricio Sulaimán – Son of José Sulaimán – WBC President
Saul “Canelo” Álvarez achieved another resplendent glory this past Saturday by dominating and overwhelming British Callum Smith at the Alamodome in San Antonio. A superb promotion with spectacular production, an extravaganza that wraps up a complicated year for the world of sports, because the activity for fans was completely shut down for several months, fans suffered from not watching any sports around the world. Eventually, some sports began activity without fans. We experienced enhanced production through important innovations. The year is closing with several major events held with fans in the stands under strict safety protocols.
I want to take this opportunity to recognize, applaud, praise, and thank the boxing promoters who have worked so hard under extreme difficulties and uncertainty to keep boxing alive. There are real heroes in their staff behind every promotion as they have passionately dedicated themselves to attending the many complications that promoting under Covid-19 protocols represent. In “The Bubble” is no fun; it is quiet, lonely, and challenging with much stress down to the last minute before, during, and after each event. Large promotions or small shows have been of great importance to keep boxing active, providing opportunities to fighters to earn a living, and giving entertainment to the world’s fans. The same goes for the boxing commissions who have performed and administered these events.
Canelo conquered the vacant super middleweight championship of the World Boxing Council, thus achieving supreme triple WBC champion status, adding this Green and Gold Belt to the super welterweight and middleweight championships he had achieved over the years. Canelo began his career and grew through the WBC platform and its affiliated championships. WBC Youth World champion, NABF and WBC Silver champion served as his preparation to reach with maturity the world stage.
The pandemic prevented Canelo to fight in the traditional 5 de Mayo and September 16 cards, then became a free agent and with end of the year approaching, the fight vs. Callum Smith was announced. Smith undefeated, a talented and experienced fighter, presented a great threat to the pound-for-pound king.
The images from the press conference, the official weigh-in, and before the ringing of the bell were truly dramatic. Callum Smith seemed to be a looming giant when they measured together with an extraordinary advantage of 18 centimeters in height.
The bell rang and lofty Smith dominated the first round with the use of the jab due to a considerable wingspan. Canelo immediately established his fight plan and managed to weave inside Smith’s guard and systematically beat him up with spectacular crunching body shots, uppercuts, various combinations that even led to Smith’s corner to consider for the fight to end after a torrid 10th round. Smith was exceptionally brave and managed to finish the contest on his feet. Canelo was declared the winner by unanimous decision, Canelo sensational, on top of the world!
That same night, WBC world champion Ilunga Makabu defended his cruiserweight championship by knocking out Nigerian Durodola. This card included four African Boxing Union championship fights, making this event a memorable one in the same country and city that experienced the most spectacular promotion in boxing history, since it was in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as Zaire), where Don King staged the legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” where Muhammad Ali sensationally knocked out George Foreman to regain his WBC world heavyweight championship in 1974.
Finally, also on the night of the 19th, at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, the interim world bantamweight championship fight took place and the Filipino Reymart Gaballo surprised Emmanuel Rodriguez by winning a split decision.
A very particular fight since originally the world bantamweight champion, Nordine Oubaali, was going to defend against mandatory contender Nonito Donaire. Unfortunately, Oubaali contracted Covid in France and that left him off the card, the WBC agreed to order an interim title for Donaire to fight Rodríguez and just a week before the fight Donaire also tested positive for Covid. Approval was given for the Filipino to enter as a last-minute substitute, and that was how Reymart presented a special present to his idol, Manny Pacquiao, with the WBC world championship on his birthday.
This is how we close fateful 2020, an indescribable year in many ways, but one of learning for all. Reinventing ourselves was the only way to survive, and I am very proud of the work that our WBC has accomplished in all fields of life. Canelo Álvarez pointed out with his great performance what we must all do. Work with passion, maintain discipline and confidence, always go forward and have patience for things to happen.
Did you know that … Very few Mexican fighters have managed to win WBC world championships in three different divisions, and Canelo Alvarez has joined this distinguished list in which we find the following legendary champions:
Julio Cesar Chávez
Erik “El Terrible” Morales
Jorge “Travieso” Arce
Humberto “Zorrita” Soto
Today’s anecdote … Christmas was the most special time for my dad. That was the moment when we could enjoy being united as a family. My parents always made sure that we spent Holy Night together and thus we all waited for the magic of Christmas. All gathered at home and the traditional story that Don José told us year after year, the path of the four wise men on their journey to Bethlehem to find baby Jesus.
There were four of them, but on the way one stayed to help those in need. The fourth Wise Man is Santa Claus. After the delicious dinner that my Mom, Doña Martha, the best mother in the world, offered us, something wonderful happened, something that marked us for life; My father would always leave our house with a large plate of food, drove to our factory to bring dinner to the night watchman, to include him in this magical night. In the spirit of Christmas, no one was ever left out, or ever will be.
The Sulaimán Saldívar family is always of service to others and that is how we learned it, with the caring example of Don José and Doña Martha.