Why the “Strongest Man in Boxing” continues to wear shoes made in Japan | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why the “Strongest Man in Boxing” continues to wear shoes made in Japan

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Canelo is practicing hard. He is wearing Mizuno ring shoes (Photo:Esther Lin/SHOWTIME®)


The ZOOM press conference for WBA/WBC/WBO super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was held at 2:30 a.m. Japan time on October 28. Since this was a big matchup for the fans, there were about 90 reporters in attendance, and those who had questions had to click the raise button and wait for the moderator to ask them.

Since Canelo is Mexican, most of the media in attendance were Hispanic. The triple crown champ, who is considered the pound-for-pound KING of boxing today, opened the Q&A session by saying, “He (opponent, IBF lightweight champion Caleb Plant) has to have a hard chin because he’s fighting me. It’s a must. I’m always ready for anything. I can’t wait for fight day. I’m strong, I’m fast. Caleb has crossed a line that no human being should ever have to cross. I haven’t forgotten that. That’s why this is a very important fight,” he said, making no attempt to hide the fact that he has left a bad taste in his mouth.

The super middleweight title fight will be held on November 6, 2011, unifying four major organizations. During the press conference on September 21, when the fight was officially announced, both fighters were involved in a brawl.

The brawl that took place at the press conference. It’s sure to be a lot of fun at the show (Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME)

Canelo looked calm, but continued to answer, revealing his anger towards Plant.

“Caleb’s skills are good. Caleb’s skills are good, he’s got good moves, good jab, good stuff. But for me, there is nothing new. I’ll have to be patient in the beginning, but after that my jab will be effective. I know what I have to do to win.

I know what I have to do to win, I have to push myself hard to get to the top. That’s why I’ve been working hard to improve every day. I’ve been doing that since my debut. I’m 100% focused on this fight. I’m not thinking about anything else. When I’m done, I’ll decide who my next opponent will be.”

Pound for Pound KING responds to questions in English and in Spanish. Although his native language is Spanish, he has made the effort to learn English properly, which was evident at the press conference.

Becoming a unified champion means a lot to me in my career,” he said. Not only am I the first Latin American fighter, but I’m going to unify four belts. I’ve been working towards this since I took my first steps with Eddie (trainer Eddie Leisono). Now we’re one match away from the finish line.

Everyone knows what I’m going to show in the ring. I want November 6th to be a great night for us. For the past year or so, the pandemic has prevented us from moving as fast as we would have liked, but now I am thankful that we have even slowed down. Looking back, it’s been a fast road to get to where we are today. I am happy with where we are now.

When I asked Eddie Leisono, who has been both trainer and manager since Canelo’s professional debut on October 9, 2005, he spoke only in Spanish. When he spoke in English, the moderator translated on the spot, but almost everyone asked him directly in Spanish.

“We’ve been training for four months for this match. We have trained for four months for this match and we have prepared well. We can’t wait for November 6th.

Caleb knows how to use his legs and has good technique. Caleb knows how to use his feet and has good technique. If we attack hard in the first few rounds, he will get away. If we attack hard in the first few rounds, he will get away, so I would like to hold on until the middle rounds and then start fighting. I’m going to stick to my boxing style and win.

Caleb Plant is a similar type of fighter to Canelo’s previous opponent Erislandy Lara, who Canelo defeated by decision on July 12, 2014. Or maybe it’s similar to Canelo’s fight against Shane Mosley (May 5, 2012, won by decision for Canelo) when Canelo was early in his career.

Canelo has matured a lot, so there is nothing to worry about. It’s going to be a tough fight, but it’s the challenge we’ve been aiming for. Experience will lead us to victory. I’m going to get the unified title that I’ve been chasing for years.

I had raised my hand from the beginning of the press conference, but my name was not called until half an hour had passed since the start. I had more questions for Canelo than about the brawl, the fight, or my impression of Caleb Plant. I wanted to ask Canelo something more than about the brawl, the fight, or his impression of Caleb Plant: Canelo, who had been under contract with a major American manufacturer, had been ordering ring shoes made in Japan for the past few fights.

In the past, I had delivered Mizuno shoes to George Foreman, Thomas Hearns, Lennox Lewis, brothers Orrin and Terry Norris, and Marco Antonio Barrera at their request.

A photo of the delivery of shoes to Hearns (photo by Soichi Hayashi)

In December 1979, the first World Junior Championships for top amateur players under the age of 18 were held in Yokohama. Ninety-eight representatives from twelve countries gathered and fought each other. Mizuno set up a booth at the Astor Hotel, which was one of the accommodations. The U.S. welterweight champion, Milton McCrory, was a frequent visitor to the booth.

Mizuno’s head of boxing chatted with McCrory every day and promised to give him a pair of shoes in his size if he won. McCrory came to show his medal with a smile on his face. Mizuno gave McCrory all of the 10 or so pairs of rings shoes that were left unsold at the booth.

McCrory, who would go on to become the WBC welterweight champion after turning pro, had been working out at KRONK Gym in Detroit and was a friend of Thomas Hearns, who would go on to become a five-weight champion and a legend. The Mizuno shoes that McCrory brought to Detroit became the talk of the town at KRONK. Both Hearns and Emanuel Steward, the head of the gym and trainer of many world champions, praised the shoes.

“It’s great quality. This is the best. Once you’ve worn Mizuno, you can’t use anything else. There is no second best.”

Steward had all of KRONK’s up-and-coming fighters wear Mizunos, and he would later go on to praise their quality to the fighters he trained. Former unified heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis was one of those who took his advice.

Mizuno shoes, a favorite of Lennox Lewis (photo by Soichi Hayashi)

On April 22, 2001, Lewis disrespected Hasheem Rachman by stepping into the ring without practicing hard enough and losing by KO. He had been busy filming a movie until a week before the world title match.

Determined to get back on track, Lewis trusted in the properties of Mizuno, a company Hearns loved, and seven months later, using a custom-made 33-centimeter weight for his return match, he regained the title with a fourth-round KO victory. For the next fight against Mike Tyson, I received an order to have new ones made and brought to me.

Mizuno’s ring shoes are made in a factory in Namba, Osaka. They are not mass-produced on a conveyor belt, but are carefully made one by one by craftsmen using hands and sewing machines. Lewis’ shoes took a long time to complete because of their non-standard size.

“The Laxman fight lasted four rounds, so they should still work, right?” I told Lewis’ entourage, “‘I want to go into the ring in perfect condition for the Tyson fight. I want to go into the ring in perfect condition for the Tyson fight, and to do that I need new ones,” the champ said.

Mizuno responded to the order within a few weeks. I delivered two pairs to Luis, who was training in Pocono, Pennsylvania, three weeks before the end of camp. As you know, Lewis knocked out Tyson in eight rounds.

Each of the champions had approached a Mizuno boxing representative to receive the products. Canelo, however, contacted a dealer and purchased the product just like any other consumer. Any champion who can draw the most customers in boxing today can be paid at least $50,000 or so for one fight to use a famous brand of ring shoes. The unexpected discipline of Canelo caught my attention.

The bell is almost here (Photo:Esther Lin/SHOWTIME® )

He also mentioned that he has been wearing Mizuno shoes during training for about two and a half years prior to his world title match against Callum Smith on December 19, 2020.

As the ZOOM press conference passed the 31-minute mark, the words “One more question and we’re done” danced across the screen. There were many reporters who were not pointed at, and just as I thought all was well, I heard the announcement, “Soichi Hayashi, please go ahead. I patted my chest, turned on the sound, and spoke to Canelo.

—You have ordered boxing shoes from Japan. Are you influenced by Thomas Hearns, Lennox Lewis, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and others? Why did you choose Mizuno?

Canelo smiled a little and answered.

“They’re just so comfortable and easy to wear.

—Who recommended them to you?
Canelo smiled a little and said, “The first person who prepared them for me was Leisono. Mizuno, they’re great.

Pound for pound, KING seems to feel the high quality that only a cottage industry can provide, and what will Canelo show us on November 6 wearing Mizuno? What will Canelo show in Mizuno on November 6, and how will the Japanese brand perform in the big match the world is expecting?

  • Interview and text by Soichi Hayashi

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