BN: What’s your understanding of the latest regarding your potential rematch with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez?
It’s not like I don’t want to fight Canelo anymore. If you asked me, “Would you prefer to fight Canelo?” I would say, “I prefer to fight for his belts”. I don’t prefer to fight him at 175; I want to fight for the belts at 175. I wanna move forward. I don’t wanna just be the champion with one belt and keep it. I want to move forward; I want to get another belt; another weight class. It’s good for my legacy; it’s motivating me more. I don’t like making defences of my belts. It’s my belt; I made 10 defences of my belt. I wanna get another.
It could [still] happen, to be honest. If he wanted the fight, we could start discussing about this fight, but we didn’t because he doesn’t want this fight. He wanted fights against [Gennady] Golovkin, and [John] Ryder, but he didn’t talk with our team about the fight against me. It was just talk. I’m not just gonna sit and wait for him.
He’s bluffing about wanting to fight me. I knew it before. I really don’t want to fight him on the same terms [as in May 2022]. Why should I? I told him before, “Yes”, and I agreed to all the terms. I like my position now. If he wants to fight me – okay, let’s put the belts on the line. We can accept that. Have you heard of a fighter that goes into a rematch on the same terms [as previously, after winning the first fight]? I’ve never heard of that.
I want to fight in September, or October. This is our plan – to get a fight in September, October, or November maybe.
BN: What did you think of his performance against John Ryder last month? Is he in decline?
I didn’t see the full fight, but I saw some parts of the fight. It wasn’t the best performance on Canelo’s side. But Ryder is not an easy opponent either.
I don’t think he’s going down – it’s just a fight that wasn’t his best performance. It could be many reasons why Canelo didn’t have a good performance. Maybe it was his hometown [of Guadalajara]; maybe Ryder had him off his game as a southpaw; and maybe because he had a bad breakfast. I don’t know.
BN: Why do you think he thinks he can win a rematch, given how one-sided your first fight was?
Because we are athletes. Every time, we have a lot of excuses. We can find a lot of reasons why we lose. Even when I win some fights I tell myself, “I could be better, because I didn’t do this and this; I could be better next time”. And he thought the same.
BN: What do you make of reports of him instead fighting Badou Jack, at cruiserweight, having already struggled at light-heavyweight?
I haven’t seen Badou Jack for many years. In what shape he’s in now; how he’s fighting. Canelo’s not a cruiserweight, of course – he’s small for cruiserweight, but maybe he sees something in Badou Jack. If you couldn’t fight in light-heavyweight, of course try cruiserweight… I’m joking. Maybe he could find some weaknesses in Badou Jack.
BN: What about your understanding of a potential fight between you and Artur Beterbiev?
I want belts. I want winners. Unification – I want to unify belts. I’ve been wanting this for over a year. We’ve been trying to make the fight. We talked about this fight – we wanted it, but we didn’t get the fight.
BN: How do you feel when the WBC and Bob Arum cite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a reason you and he shouldn’t fight?
It’s not too serious. It looks funny because [Canadian citizen] Beterbiev is Russian too. I was born in Kyrgyzstan; I spent almost half of my life there. If I was born there, I could go anytime and get my passport. What’s the problem? I think there’s some other reason [they’re saying that]. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not the main problem keeping us from making the fight.
Politics and sports are two different things. I hope one day it will be really clean – sports will be separated from politics. I really hope. Because all my life I’ve spent it boxing – I spent all my life in the boxing gym, and I just want to fight. I want to show people that you can achieve something if you work hard. Even if you come from a small city, you could be someone.
BN: Who wins when Beterbiev fights Callum Smith on August 19?
I see Beterbiev as more skilful, more powerful, and more confident. Smith is not easy, of course, but how the fight goes will depend on Smith more. If he is confident, the fight is gonna be really interesting. If he’s not, it could end up one-sided. I say it’s a good fight.
It was a nice fight [in January between Beterbiev and Anthony Yarde]. It was nice performance for Yarde. He showed himself, and he was good. I think it’s a good fight for Yarde.
BN: To what extent does your improved English owe to the difficulty of marketing you as a leading fighter without you being able to speak it?
It’s become better, yeah. I’m practicing more; I’m watching shows; I’m even trying to read some books, but it’s terrible for me. I try to read some of the news in English and translate it.
It’s because I just want to understand people who are talking with me a bit more. Mainly that, but of course it’s good for promoting myself. But inside, I just want to understand people who are talking to me, and I want people to understand me when I’m talking.