Canelo Alvarez got his famous nickname due to hair colour

  • Canelo Alvarez takes on Gennady Golovkin in Las Vegas on Saturday night
  • The Mexican’s full name is Santos Saul Alvarez Barragan but he goes by Canelo
  • He was given his famous nickname due to his ginger hair and freckles 

Andy Warren For Mailonline

The story behind Saul Alvarez’s nickname is a very simple one, but his journey to becoming ‘Canelo’ is a little more complex.

The 27-year-old takes on Gennady Golovkin in a hotly-anticipated world middleweight title bout in Las Vegas on Saturday night, with the Mexican known not by his full name of Santos Saul Alvarez Barragan, but rather by a name given to him because of the colour of his hair.

His ginger hair and freckled appearance saw a coach christen him ‘canelito’, which translates literally as ‘little cinnamon’ in Spanish, and from here it has been shortened to the Canelo name he uses today.

Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez faces Gennady Golovkin in a middleweight mega-fight on Saturday night

The Mexican's 'Canelo' nickname comes from his ginger hair and his freckled complexion

The Mexican's 'Canelo' nickname comes from his ginger hair and his freckled complexion

The Mexican’s ‘Canelo’ nickname comes from his ginger hair and his freckled complexion

Growing up the youngest of eight children, he was often picked on on the streets of the tiny town of Juanacatlan, just outside the city of Guadalajara in western Mexico, where other children used his appearance against him.

But Alvarez wasn’t broken by it, when other children of a similar age may have become self-conscious and gone into their shell, and when his appearance was pointed out by trainer Jose Reynoso when the young boxer was just 15, Canelo was born. 

The name has certainly stuck and, given his flame-haired look is unusual when compared to many of the great Mexican fighters who have gone before him, the Canelo camp saw it as a great way to market the boxer to the US audience. 

Indeed the name has become so common for Alvarez that only ‘Canelo’ has appeared on posters to publicise the hotly-anticipated contest with Golovkin.

His full name is Santos Saul Alvarez Barragan, but he is more commonly known by 'Canelo' 

His full name is Santos Saul Alvarez Barragan, but he is more commonly known by 'Canelo' 

His full name is Santos Saul Alvarez Barragan, but he is more commonly known by ‘Canelo’ 

Now, ‘Canelo takes on a meaning far deeper than a word to describe Alvarez’s hair. It tells the story of a man who grew up working by selling ice cream for his fathers business, who battled his way through the Mexican amateur ranks with such power and prowess that fighters began refusing to face him.

It tells a story of a man who became a world champion at the age of just 20 and has picked himself up following a defeat by Floyd Mayweather to again challenge the best in his division when he takes on Golovkin. He has turned a childhood moniker into a brand, but he is not alone in taking a nickname into the ring on Saturday night.

The Kazakh brings a brand of his own into the contest, with its origin even more simple than Canelo’s. The veteran is known as ‘Triple G’ due to full name Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin. It’s as simple as that.

The bout at T-Mobile Arena sees two men from very different backgrounds meet in a fight seen by many as the most exciting of the year, as Canelo and Triple G bid for supremacy in the middleweight division.

It has stuck to such an extent only 'Canelo' has been used to publicise the contest

It has stuck to such an extent only 'Canelo' has been used to publicise the contest

It has stuck to such an extent only ‘Canelo’ has been used to publicise the contest

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