NOT so long ago, Canelo Alvarez was just a normal kid in the gym, albeit one with a love for bareback horse riding. As Canelo prepares to challenge WBO super-welterweight champion Liam Smith on Saturday night at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the Mexican icon’s trainer, Chepo Reynoso, reflected on the early days of their relationship.

“He came in [to my gym] like any other kid,” Reynoso said. “There’s hundreds of kids that come to my gym, you start working with them. There’s some that are good, and there’s some that are not. The important thing is that they are learning, and they’re doing what I’m teaching. That’s one thing that happened with Saul, he was doing what I was teaching.”

Alvarez turned professional at the tender age of 15, and the flame-haired fighter progressed quickly under the watchful eye of both Chepo and Eddy Reynoso. The key to his success – which has seen him pick up world titles at super-welter and middleweight and become one of the most marketable stars in the sport – was his ability to listen, learn, and in turn, improve.

“It’s kind of like maths, it’s two plus two equals four – you’ve got to get to four, and that’s what happened with Saul. He kept learning and getting better and better. What we’re experienced now, is years and years of maths, him doing what he was taught, being able to accomplish everything that was asked,” Chepo continued.

Alvarez has matured over time, developing his game and mindset. But his daredevil attitude and thrill-seeking mentality, has always been there.

“He’s changed over time like any other normal human being who went from 15 years old to 26 years old,” Reynoso said, before referencing the recent footage of him leaping on a horse and riding it bareback at incredible speed. “He’s matured physically and mentally, but he’s still doing a lot of the same things  that he was doing then. He still goes to the movies, he still rides his horses like he did 10 years ago – the only difference is the horses are better quality now.”

And in what might turn out to be bad news for Smith, the 26-year-old Alvarez is getting better with every outing.

“I still think there’s lot more to come from him. He keeps getting better in every fight. He just needs a little more experience to become even better. He’s a fighter that knows how to counter punch, he knows how to throw combinations, he moves his head very well, he knows how to use lateral movements. He gets better with every single fight. It’s just a matter of time, he just needs a little bit more experience to be an excellent boxer, but the good thing is he keeps getting better.”