Veteran Hall of Fame trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain knows a lot about a lot when it comes to the sport of boxing. And, as former trainer of Juan Manuel Marquez, one of the things he knows best is Manny Pacquiao.
Holding the Filipino icon as a measuring stick for greatness in a recent interview, the 82-year-old trainer of Mexican greats such as Juan Manuel Marquez, Rafael Marquez, Ricardo Lopez, Jorge Arce, Daniel Zaragoza, and Jhonny Gonzalez (among many others) sought to slow the roll of many declaring Saul “Canelo” Alvarez an all-time Mexican great.
“I recognize that he’s [Canelo] a great fighter and athlete because he trains very well and his trainer prepares him well,” Beristain told FightHubTV. “But I don’t agree [that he’s one of the greatest Mexican fighters ever].”
“Doesn’t matter that he’s won the titles that he’s won and the money he’s making…I recognize he’s a great fighter, but there’s still a little more he needs to do to be in the hearts of Mexican boxing fans.
“What’s missing is one or two fights of the type that Julio Cesar Chavez had and others. He fights and keeps fighting, but personally for me, as a trainer of many fighters, he doesn’t fulfill me. He hasn’t had a fight that has really captured the hearts of the people. He fights and wins and wins millions of dollars and that’s good. It makes me happy to see that he’s having success, but he hasn’t had that one fight we all want to see. He hasn’t had it.”
Beristain then cast some shade on Alvarez’s recent TKO victory over IBF super middleweight champ Caleb Plant, a win that made Alvarez the unified 4-belt champ at 168 lbs.
“I got three calls from people saying – and these are bad-ass trainers – that said to me, ‘I’m watching this farce of a fight with Canelo. Plant fell without getting hit hard,’ Beristain continued. “I didn’t see it. I can’t give my opinion, but those people said that Plant threw [the fight]. That makes like five fights that leave a lot of doubt. Because they can fool you or fans but not me because I’ve had a sh*t ton of time watching boxing.
“I still have hope to see him in a fight where he looks sensational. Because he wins and looks good but he doesn’t go that extra mile.”
The trainer would go on to bring up Manny Pacquiao as someone Canelo should aspire to follow.
“Pacquiao, now that’s a guy that deserves to be praised the world over because he fought and went through the ringer. He gave exciting fights. Canelo, no!
“He wins and knocks people out and they raise his hands and he wins a ton of money but he is not convincing [inside the ring].”
It should be noted that Beristain has been a longtime critic of Alvarez and has been vocal about the young star’s rise to glory ever since the Guadalajara native first started making waves on the international scene.
Back in 2011, right before a 20-year-old Alvarez got his first crack at a world title, Beristain appeared on a Mexican TV show with Juan Manuel Marquez and disparaged the young fighter with the same kind of not-so-subtle backhanded “he’s great, but…” commentary.
“I’m not downgrading Alvarez, I’m talking about the inferior level of his opposition,” Beristain said. “If you had put him in with (Alfredo) Angulo, it would’ve been a great war and Alvarez could prove himself and nobody could doubt his ability.”
The tandem of Beristain and Marquez have never had an unconditional kind word to say about Alvarez and that probably won’t change. Marquez, as a matter of fact, spoke up after the Plant fight and flat-out said that “Canelo will never be the best boxer in Mexican history unless he faces his opponents on an equal footing as the other Mexican greats did.”
Meanwhile, Julio Cesar Chavez, who is regarded by many as the best Mexican fighter of all-time, has been much more accepting of Alvarez.
“Right here you have the best Mexican boxer right now and, possibly, the best of all-time,” Chavez, embracing Alvarez, told the crowd after an exhibition bout against Hector Camacho Jr. in Guadalajara last June. “Canelo has everything you need– force, dedication, perseverance, and discipline…with all due respect, you’re a damn good fighter, cabron!”