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Canelo v. Messi Headlines Bad PR Weekend for Mexican Star

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Image for Canelo v. Messi Headlines Bad PR Weekend for Mexican Star

In terms of public relations, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez had a pretty bad 48-hour run this past weekend.

The biggest headlines made by the Mexican star were generated by his social media outburst against Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi, who Canelo claims disrespected the Mexican flag in a locker room celebration after Argentina defeated Mexico in World Cup action.

“Did you see Messi cleaning the floor with our jersey and flag????,” Alvarez wrote via his verified Twitter account.

“He better pray to God that I don’t find him!! Just like I respect Argentina, he has to respect Mexico!

“I’m not talking about the country as a whole, just about the bulls**t that Messi did.”

A video of the alleged incident has been making the rounds online and, at least to this writer’s eyes, seems like a very slight, innocuous, and likely even unintentional incident. In it, Messi can be seen slightly flicking at a Mexican jersey at his feet, on the ground, and quite possibly unaware of its presence there. The official explanation appears to be what actually happened– the soccer star was flicking off his shoes and the jersey was in the way of that flick.

Alvarez, however, doubled down on his indignation, even after social media comments tried to temper his outrage with reason.

“From the moment the Mexico jersey is on the floor it’s already an insult.”

“Mr. Canelo, don’t look for excuses or problems, surely you don’t know about soccer and what happens in a locker room,” former Argentine soccer player Sergio Aguero responded via Twitter. “The jerseys are always on the floor after games due to sweat and then if you see well, he makes the movement to remove the shoe and accidentally hits it.”

The 32-year-old unified super middleweight champ from Guadalajara has usually been pretty savvy with how he chooses to portray himself publicly. Although he has let slip some instances here and there of angry, ego-bruised nastiness, he’s generally garnered an image of being even-tempered and above it all.

This Messi outburst was definitely not one of those “in control” moments, though. “Defending his country’s honor,” however, will probably get him a pass at home and clear him of the need to double back and do any public relations repair work.

The other bad moment for Canelo’s image over the weekend came in a more traditional boxing manner and, most definitely, with a much lower level of visibility.

WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol, who beat Alvarez decisively last Cinco de Mayo weekend, was in attendance at Saturday’s Regis Prograis-Jose Zepeda show in Carson, California and received a whole lot of love from the primarily Mexican-American crowd at Dignity Health Sports Park. There were chants of “Bivol, Bivol, Bivol” and even a sprinkling of “Canelo’s Dad” quips.

Of course, the Russian was asked about the Mexican cash cow.

“I don’t know. I’m resting now,” Dmitry Bivol told Fighthype when asked if Canelo Alvarez would be next for him. “We will see. I don’t know.”

Then, the subject of Alvarez’s post-fight response to the loss and the excuses offered up for the defeat.

“First, he said, it’s not his weight class. Then he said, ‘It’s not good camp.’ Now he says it was his arm,” Bivol responded. “What I can say?”

So, yeah, this wasn’t the best of weekends for Canelo Alvarez’s usually well-kept public image. In the mainstream sports world, he got press for threatening to beat up an international soccer star. Then, deep in the hardcore boxing world, and among what should be his rabid base, he gets shown up by the guy who handed him a fairly comprehensive loss just about six months ago.

No bueno.

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Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: [email protected]