Canelo loves the Lone Star State

Canelo Alvarez greatest hits (4:06)

Watch some of the best moments in the career of middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez ahead of his 154-pound title fight against Liam Smith on Sept. 17. (4:06)

The first time Mexican star Canelo Alvarez fought in Texas he outpointed Austin Trout to unify junior middleweight belts before a crowd of some 40,000 at the Alamodome in San Antonio in April 2013. Alvarez was the star of the show, drawing a raucous mostly Mexican crowd to the fight.

When Alvarez returned to Texas 25 months later he scored the 2015 knockout of the year against James Kirkland, knocking him out cold in the third round. At that fight there was a wild crowd of 31,588 going crazy for Alvarez at Minute Maid Park, the home of the Houston Astros, which was hosting its first boxing events.

It is clear that Alvarez loves Texas and Texas, with its large Hispanic population, loves Alvarez. That is one of the main reasons why his next fight will mark his return to the Lone Star State.

"When I train, I only focus on one fighter, and that is the one in front of me. Liam Smith is undefeated and the WBO champion. He has knocked out many other fighters and is hungry to become a superstar."

Canelo Alvarez

Alvarez, the lineal middleweight champion, is returning to the junior middleweight division -- supposedly for only one fight -- to challenge England’s Liam Smith (23-0-1, 13 KOs) for his world title on Sept. 17 (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington, Texas.

Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KOs) told his promoter, Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya, that he wanted to fight regularly in Texas and his wish was granted for the fight with Smith, who will be defending his 154-pound belt for the third time and making his first appearance in the United States.

“I have always loved fighting in Texas, and the opportunity to fight in front of tens of thousands of fans at such an incredible venue is very special to me,” Alvarez said of Jerry Jones’ $1.2 billion AT&T Stadium, which will be hosting its third boxing event. “When I finished my fight with James Kirkland, I told my team that I wanted to come back to Texas at least once a year, and I am a man of my word.”

In 2010, Manny Pacquiao fought at AT&T Stadium twice, outpointing Joshua Clottey in a welterweight title defense and then drubbing Antonio Margarito in a decision win to claim a vacant junior middleweight title and set the record by winning a world title in his eighth weight division.

According to Golden Boy, the ticket sales for Alvarez-Smith are ahead of the pace at this point of the promotion of both of Pacquiao’s fights, although it did not give out specific figures. But Pacquiao drew 50,994 for the fight with Clottey and 41,734 when he faced Margarito.

Alvarez said he is anticipating a big crowd next month.

“As Texas borders Mexico, I expect many of my fellow countrymen to come to the fight, and I am looking forward to putting on a show,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez said he solely focused on Smith, not unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin, who most want to see him fight but were bitterly disappointed when he selected Smith and put off Golovkin at least until mid-2017 (although he and his team steadfastly insist the bout will happen as long as they both keep winning).

“When I train, I only focus on one fighter, and that is the one in front of me. Liam Smith is undefeated and the WBO champion,” Alvarez said. “He has knocked out many other fighters and is hungry to become a superstar. Like always, I am going to work extremely hard throughout training camp, get myself into the best condition possible and hopefully come out with another victory.

“As for the future, I’ll let others do the talking, but I have always said that I fear no man, and when I feel my body is ready, I will take on anyone and everyone in the division that I am fighting.”

Alvarez’s middleweight fights have been contested at a catch weight of 155 pounds, but he is expected to move up to the division limit of 160 for a fight in December -- possibly against the winner of the Sept. 17 co-feature between former world title challengers Willie Monroe Jr. and Gabriel Rosado -- assuming he takes care of big underdog Smith. But first things first, Alvarez said.

“For right now, I have only one goal, and that is to be in best physical and mental shape of my life to come in Sept. 17 and perform at the best of my ability for my fans,” Alvarez said.