Newly crowned WBC 154-pound beltholder Saul Alvarez is taking the first defense of his green belt seriously.
The 20-year-old Mexican star, who is set to defend his title against Ryan Rhodes in his home region of Guadalajara on June 18, is training outside of Mexico for the first time, at The Summit training center in Big Bear Lake, Calif., in preparation for the seasoned British contender.
Alvarez, who has been training in the Southern California mountain resort town for three weeks, is sparring three times a week with Gennady Golovkin, according to the undefeated middleweight's trainer Abel Sanchez.
Golovkin (20-0, 17 knockouts), a 2003 world amateur champ and 2004 Olympic silver medalist from Kazakhstan, holds the WBA's 160-pound title. The 29-year-old boxer-puncher, who defeated the likes of Lucian Bute and Andre Dirrell in the amateurs, is already making a name for himself in Southern California's competitive gym circuit.
Rumor has it Golovkin ran hardnosed junior middleweight contender Alfredo Angulo off the mountain when the two sparred last year.
However, Alvarez (36-0-1, 26 KOs) has been holding his own, according to Sanchez.
"They're giving each other good work," said the veteran trainer.
Golovkin, who has stopped his last seven opponents, will defend his belt against former 154-pound titleholder Kassim Ouma in Panama City, Panama, on June 17.