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Saul "Canelo" Alvarez has made incredible strides with his English in the past year or so. He regularly does interviews in English now and only uses his interpreter on rare occasions. But his inability to understand a curse word — motherf***er — hurled at him in his second language led to a brief scuffle in which Caleb Plant suffered a cut below his right eye.
The cut appeared minor and shouldn’t have any impact on the Nov. 6 fight for the undisputed super middleweight title at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
Still, it was extraordinarily foolish and more than a little short-sighted for Alvarez to shove Plant, and for Plant to respond by throwing a punch at Alvarez.
Stephen Espinoza, Showtime’s president of sports, had to blanch watching the two star attractions rumble at the end of a lengthy staredown following a news conference in Los Angeles.
Showtime just earned the right to promote the PPV event, and Espinoza had to be asking himself if he were cursed when Plant was yanked from the scrum with blood covering the side of his face.
Contrary to those who believe the scuffle helped boost pay-per-view sales, it was an exceptionally poor decision by two men who ought to know better.
Alvarez believed Plant was insulting his mother when Plant cursed at him. He told Plant not to talk about his mother as Plant was on the dais and others on the dais stood up and got between them to prevent another incident.
Moments before, though, the fighters were allowed to do a nose-to-nose staredown with, inexplicably, no one from the promotion between them. The reason promoters usually stand between the fighters is to be able to prevent an incident that could lead to injury and postpone or cancel the fight.
It was amazingly short-sighted that no one got between them before they got to swinging at each other.
Having them go at it like they did rarely makes any difference, particularly when it happens this far out from the fight. Only the hardest of the hardcore fans were watching this. The fans they’ll need to buy the PPV on Nov. 6 are the ones who don’t buy every time and they didn’t see a second of this.
Alvarez misunderstood what Plant meant when he called him a “motherf***er.” Plant wasn’t complimenting him, but the insult he hurled had nothing to do with Alvarez’s mother. But Alvarez misunderstood.
When he was interviewed by Showtime’s Brian Campbell and Luke Thomas, he was asked what set him off.
“He was talking about my mother,” Alvarez said. “He said, ‘You motherf***er.’ That’s why I pushed him and he came back with a left hook. That’s what happened.”
That’s as fair an accounting of what went on as anyone has given, but he knows better than to push an opponent. If Plant had fallen off stage or twisted his ankle trying to regain his balance, the fight would have been off.
Plant could have fallen backward, hit his head and suffered a cut or even a concussion that would have wreaked havoc with the fight.
That said, Plant should never have thrown the punch. No one wants to look like they backed down, and especially someone in Plant’s position, who is the decided underdog (+550 at BetMGM). Still, throwing a punch back at Alvarez significantly escalated the situation and caused even more damage.
The promoter should have been between them, or had someone do the job, to prevent this. It was foreseeable and it made no sense to not be there.
Fortunately, the fight looks as if it will proceed without issue. This incident, though, didn’t need to and shouldn’t have happened. It’s now going to become a part of the fight’s narrative, however.
Hopefully, the rest of the way one of the promoters will be where he needs to be to prevent what could be a devastating encore.