It's no secret that boxing isn't what it used to be. And with two of its biggest stars, Manny Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather, nearing the ends of their careers, the sport is looking for an infusion of young talent as it fights off competition from rival UFC.
Enter 25-year-old Mexican standout Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
Six months after a landmark victory over Miguel Cotto that earned Alvarez the middleweight title, the Mexican boxer is set to defend his title on Saturday against Amir Khan in the first bout at the new 20,000-seat T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, which will be carried on HBO pay-per-view.
Canelo has previously sold out events in larger venues such as Minute Maid Park in Houston and the Alamodome in San Antonio. He is also the only fighter, besides Mayweather, Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya, to come close to securing 1 million pay-per-view buys. De La Hoya reps Alvarez under his Golden Boy Promotions banner.
Alvarez is also quickly becoming a brand spokesman. He has endorsement deals with Under Armour, Everlast and now Tecate, the first individual fighter to endorse the Mexican brewer. "He's a rising star," said Felix Palau, VP of brand marketing for the Heineken brand. "He is the right fit because he represents everything this brand is all about."
"One of the big things for me is that the brand feels strongly about what I'm doing with the sport," said Alvarez in an interview with Adweek, during a break in training. "It's very important that they care as much for it as I do," said Alvarez who goes by the nickname Canelo, the Spanish word for cinnamon.
Alvarez is the new face of Tecate's "Born Bold" campaign. Tecate entered the ring less than 10 years ago when it partnered with De La Hoya during his marquee bout against Mayweather in 2007. "That was the first time Tecate did something related to boxing in the U.S.," Palau said.
The campaign, which goes into overdrive this week as Alvarez and Khan arrive in Las Vegas, includes a TV commercial made exclusively for the English-speaking audience. Something Tecate hasn't done before.
Tecate and Golden Boy also worked together to launch an app that will mimic Alvarez's punches, called Bold Punch, available in the App Store. "You're including the consumer to be part of the experience," said De La Hoya. "When Canelo lands a punch, you're going to be able to feel the vibration." The app also includes a behind-the-scenes livestream and pre-fight locker room content.
"We really want to take the sport to the next level," said Palau. "The digital world has allowed us to challenge ourselves and innovate."