Canelo Alvarez Reveals He Negotiated Kidnapped Brother’s Release Before A Fight

Canelo Álvarez poses at a weigh-in before a fight.
Gettyimages | Ethan Miller
World

Superstar boxer Canelo Álvarez said in a new interview that his brother was kidnapped in Mexico in 2018, and he had to negotiate his brother's release by phone -- right before he was scheduled for a fight.

"In 2018, the Monday before the fight, and I was always on the phone. ... I negotiated everything for his release," Álvarez said on "In Depth with Graham Bensinger" in an interview that will air in full this weekend.

Some of the details of this new revelation are stunning.

Emergency Before A Fight

Canelo Álvarez raises a fist to the crowd during a boxing match.
Gettyimages | Steve Marcus

Álvarez fought Rocky Fielding at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 15, 2018. What nobody knew at the time was that in the week leading up to the bout, which Álvarez went on to win, the Mexican star was dealing with a terrible personal ordeal.

Álvarez said it took three days of negotiating with the kidnappers over the phone to ensure his brother would be released. That left him very little time to recuperate emotionally before he had to fight Fielding, especially because he kept the situation private.

"Everybody thinks wow, you know, they see me up there and they say, 'Wow, it's very easy,'" Álvarez told Bensinger. "But nothing is easy in this life. Everything is difficult."

Canelo Alvarez: Personal struggles before a fight - YouTube

Brother Released Without Harm

Canelo Álvarezstands before a boxing match.
Gettyimages | Al Bello

Álvarez never got Mexican police or authorities involved because he feared some corrupt police officers might have played a role in the kidnapping.

When asked if his brother ended up OK when the kidnappers released him, Álvarez gave Bensinger a thumbs-up.

"Thank God," Álvarez said. "Because it's very difficult. When you have that kind of thing (happen), you're worried he'll never come back. Never. They die."

Álvarez has six brothers, all of whom also became professional boxers, according to an ESPN Magazine profile of him. Álvarez did not reveal which brother had been kidnapped in the preview clip of the interview posted online.

The $365 Million Man

Floyd Mayweather (left) and Canelo Álvarez promote their fight in 2013.
Gettyimages | Ethan Miller

Álvarez (whose actual given name is Saul) is one of the top boxers of the century, and BoxRec.com and other outlets rank him the best active boxer in the world. He owns a career record of 55-1-2 and 37 knockouts, with his only loss coming to undefeated Floyd Mayweather in 2013.

Just two months before the kidnapping, Álvarez signed a five-year, $365 million contract with DAZN, a sports streaming service that agreed to carry his next 11 fights. At the time, it made Álvarez the highest-paid athlete in the world (in terms of the sports contract alone, not factoring in separate sponsorship deals).

Álvarez's Future

Canelo Álvarez smiles during a promotional event.
Gettyimages | Richard Heathcote

Álvarez, 30, is not slowing down any time soon. His revealing new interview arrives less than two weeks ahead of his return to the ring on May 8, when he'll fight undefeated British challenger Billy Joe Saunders at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Álvarez is trying to unify the super middleweight division. First he'll need to take down Saunders (30-0) to grab the World Boxing Organization (WBO) super middleweight title.

The Mexican star has only fought twice since the pandemic began last year: a 12-round unanimous decision over Callum Smith in December and an easy 3-round win over Avni Yildirim in February.