LOS ANGELES – Alfonso Gomez did his now-customary Spanish-language rap with opponent Saul Alvarez sitting a few feet to his left at a news conference Tuesday, conveying in his unusual way that he is the better man and will prevail when they meet on Sept. 17 at Staples Center.
Alvarez, a serious sort, wasn’t amused. He didn’t smile once during Gomez’s performance.
“I'm a man, not a clown. I do my talking with my fists,” Alvarez said through a translator.
In fact, Gomez is more than just a clown even if he plays that role on occasion. The Mexican-born Angeleno's fists have made their share of statements too over his fairly successful 10-year professional boxing career.
The former participant on The Contender reality TV series has a solid resume even if he was selected to fight Alvarez because he is deemed incapable of beating the WBC junior middleweight titleholder from Mexico.
And while Gomez's words can also be playful when he discusses this opportunity — his second shot at a major title — he makes it clear that he has bad intentions.
“Whose name is on the banner?” he said. “Canelo Promotions. He’s the one paying everybody here. He’s even paying me. Let’s just say I’ll be the most-envied guy on Sept. 17 who beats the s—t out of his boss.”
Again, that certainly isn’t what Alvarez’s handlers have in mind.
They know Gomez (23-4-2, 12 knockouts) has had some success in the ring. He sent faded versions of Arturo Gatti and Jose Luis Castillo into retirement and has a recent victory over capable Jesus Soto-Karass, losing badly only to Miguel Cotto in his only other title shot.
They also know that he fights primarily at 147 pounds, which gives Alvarez (37-0-1, 27 KOs) – a solid 154-pounder – a significant advantage.
Thus, Gomez was an ideal candidate for the still-developing 21-year-old: He’s a pretty good fighter with a recognizable name but has failed badly on the biggest stage and is the smaller man.
“I understand the business, I’m not stupid. I understand they keep feeding him 140-pounders [Matthew Hatton] to become champion and 147-pounders to defend the title,” he said.
Of course, Gomez says he’ll be different from the rest of Alvarez’s opponents. They all say that, as Alvarez pointed out.
“They’re always saying they’re going to do this or do that but nothing happens,” Alvarez said. “I’m going to show my fans that I’m continuing to improve. I’ve been winning my fights very clearly and giving good efforts.
“It will be the same thing this time.”
So what makes Gomez different?
Perhaps nothing. Perhaps he will go the way of Carlos Baldomir, Lovemore N’Dou, Hatton and Ryan Rhodes, opponents Alvarez dominated in the past 10 months. To listen to Gomez talk, though, is to believe he has a chance.
Whether he’s rapping or speaking, the passionate belief he has in himself is obvious and appears to be genuine.
“I see a strong fighter, a fast, young, hungry fighter,” Gomez said of Alvarez. “At the same time, I think he’s sort of fabricated.”
He hasn’t faced adversity?
“That’s when you become somebody,” he continued. “Whether you win or lose, adversity teaches you a lesson. He hasn’t been there, hasn’t been in deep waters. I plan to take him there and I think he’ll fail.
“… I’m really determined to win. I don’t know if it’s my Mexican mentality or what but I think his previous opponents really just wanted to survive, not even win a round, just survive. Not me. That’s not in my character. That’s not the way I behave in or out of the ring.
“Every time I go in there, I go in there to win, to do whatever it takes. And I’ll prove it once again.”
Don’t bring it up: Alvarez was asked what subject he’s most tired of being asked about by reporters.
He didn’t hesitate to answer: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
The matchup is a natural, two young, undefeated Mexican stars who do terrific television ratings in their native country. The fight would be huge in their native country.
Alvarez has other things on his mind, though, starting with Gomez.
“I have nothing against him,” Alvarez said of his rival. “I respect him. People in the media are always talking about that fight. Eventually it will happen.”
Weighty issue: Alvarez fought Hatton at a catch weight of 150 pounds when they fought for the vacant junior middleweight title in March, although Alvarez ended up coming in at 151½.
This fight? Alvarez and Gomez will adhere to the junior middleweight limit of 154.
“I fought as a middleweight, you know,” said Gomez, referring to his stint on The Contender in 2004-05. “And I fought a few times at light middleweight. Usually, I’m a welterweight. Nevertheless, I couldn’t say no to an opportunity of this magnitude.
“I tried to get (a limit of) 150 to be fair but they didn’t want to. I don’t know why they did that when he fought for a world title but now they can’t do it. It doesn’t matter. They want all the advantages they can get.
“I hope it’s a good advantage for him because I plan to take that belt.”
Overly senstitive?: Gomez shrugged when he was asked about Alvarez’s reaction to his rapping.
“I think he took it a little too personal,” Gomez said. “It was just rap, a little freestyle. It was nothing personal, as I told him before. If he took it to heart too much, he’s still too young and not mature enough to understand it.”
On loan: Gomez is promoted by Bob Arum of Top Rank, the principal rival of Golden Boy, which handles Alvarez and is promoting this show.
Someone asked Gomez whether Arum said anything to him about his fight against Alvarez.
“Yeah, he said, ‘Kick his ass,’” said Gomez, mimicking Arum’s gravelly voice. “That’s what I plan to do, Bob.”