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December 14, 2018

Two Unlikely Trails To A Mecca Of Boxing

With Saturday night’s glamour fight at Madison Square Garden, two boxers — Canelo Álvarez and Rocky Fielding — step into rarified territory, forever linked now to the likes of Ali, Marciano and Holyfield in Garden history.

Canelo Álvarez and Rocky Fielder described the meaning of boxing at The Garden with nearly identical words, agreeing that it is every fighter's dream. (Photo: Scott Levy/MSG Photos)

From an early age, growing up in the old town of Juanacatlán in western Mexico, Saul “Canelo” Álvarez , with his compact build and a shock of red hair, clung to a vision. His six older brothers all became boxers, and he would, too. He would be better than all of them.

Rocky Fielding came of age in gyms around Liverpool, somehow making good of a hardscrabble childhood. His notion of the “big time” was rising to the top of the local crew of young fighters who otherwise hung out at the pubs on the edge of town.

To both men, Madison Square Garden occupied a near-mythic space. Now, fatefully, the boxing life has brought them to a climactic moment in a place they had only dreamed about. On Saturday night they will enter the Garden ring for one of the most electric bouts in recent times. Canelo, a face of the sport (so renown he has achieved nickname-only recognition) versus Fielding, the classic underdog, for the WBA Super Middleweight Championship.

For The Madison Square Garden Company, a long tradition is about to gain a new flourish. From Joe Louis to Rocky Marciano, from Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson, and recently, with names like Gennady Golovkin and Vasiliy Lomachenko, MSG retains the aura of a boxing mecca.

 

From Tourist To The MSG Marquee

Both Canelo and Fielding sense the history surrounding them. At 28, Canelo long ago adopted Ali as his hero. He calls boxing at The Garden a “landmark” in his career. And three years ago, Fielding, 31, played the sightseer, taking the Madison Square Garden All Access Tour and then watching the Knicks from an upper-tier seat. He recently tweeted a photo taken that day of himself outside The Garden, with the heading, “Just visualizing and dreaming one day.”

While Canelo is heavily favored, the bout comes with intrigue. Fielding is the reigning super middleweight champ, and at 6-feet-1 towers over Canelo by four inches. And Canelo, holder of the middleweight title, is venturing out of his comfort zone by jumping up a class in weight. But he is a power puncher who has grown into a master tactician.

Anticipating his 54th professional fight, Canelo said he has a new aspiration.

“Instead of this being my first or my last fight at Madison Square Garden,” he said, “I want it to be the first of many more.”

Want tickets to the big bout? Click here.

 

Rocky Fielding was awestruck when he stepped into The Garden three years as a tourist. Now, he says, to pull off an upset over Canelo he has to “strip away the hype and just focus on my boxing.”


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About The Madison Square Garden Company

The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) is a world leader in live sports and entertainment experiences. The company presents or hosts a broad array of premier events in its diverse collection of iconic venues: New York’s Madison Square Garden, Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; the Forum in Inglewood, CA; and The Chicago Theatre. Other MSG properties include legendary sports franchises: the New York Knicks (NBA) and the New York Rangers (NHL); two development league teams – the Westchester Knicks (NBAGL) and the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL); and esports teams through Counter Logic Gaming, a leading North American esports organization, and Knicks Gaming, MSG’s NBA 2K League franchise. In addition, the Company features the popular original production – the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes – and through Boston Calling Events, produces New England’s preeminent Boston Calling Music Festival. Also under the MSG umbrella is TAO Group, a world-class hospitality group with globally-recognized entertainment dining and nightlife brands: Tao, Marquee, Lavo, Avenue, Beauty & Essex and Vandal. More information is available at www.themadisonsquaregardencompany.com