Middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez is the emerging face of boxing in the post-Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao era. Mayweather is retired and Pacquiao says he will be joining him following his third fight against Timothy Bradley Jr. on April 9.
But as big of a star as Alvarez has already become as a pay-per-view and gate attraction, the vast majority of his fan base is Mexican and Mexican-American.
The 25-year-old Alvarez and his team at Golden Boy Promotions know that the best way for him to cross over to non-Latino fans is by speaking English, which Alvarez is working on.
That will certainly help, as will a new sponsorship deal he has signed with Tecate, the Mexican beer giant that is ubiquitous around boxing.
Tecate announced on Tuesday that in addition to signing on as the chief sponsor of all of Golden Boy's events in a multi-year deal, it has also signed Alvarez as a spokesman for its "Born Bold" campaign that will target an English-speaking audience for the first time. It is the first time that beer maker, which usually sponsors individual major fights or a boxing series, has signed an individual fighter to an endorsement deal.
"Tecate is a world recognized company and I am very happy to have a strong and serious sponsor be part of my team," said Alvarez, who will dress in sponsor-branded trunks for his bouts. "Through our partnership we will be able to achieve our mutual goals and lead boxing into its next great era."
One of the ways that Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya, a Mexican-American, was able to develop such a huge fan base when he was an active fighter -- one that made him his era's pay-per-view king -- was because he was bilingual and able to connect with both Spanish- and English-speaking fans.
He said that is the plan for Alvarez as well. De La Hoya said the new deal will spur Alvarez's advances in English. He already understands a lot of the language but has been reluctant to speak it publicly.
"This is Canelo's coming out party. Canelo now has the opportunity to become that next exciting pay-per-view king and Tecate will definitely help with his popularity here in the United States," De La Hoya told ESPN.com. "When you connect with the American consumer its like you've made it."
Alvarez's Nov. 21 win against Miguel Cotto to claim the middleweight title drew 900,000 buys for the fight. He is scheduled to defend the title for the first time on May 7 (HBO PPV) -- Cinco de Mayo weekend -- against Amir Khan at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
De La Hoya promised that during HBO's "24/7" reality series building up to the fight with Khan that Alvarez would speak English. He said he would bet that Alvarez would also speak English during his post-fight interview in the ring.
"He understands how important it is," De La Hoya said. "He's been a little shy about speaking it because he likes to do everything perfect. But I've told him there's no such thing as being perfect. He understands that as long as you're making the effort people will respect that."
De La Hoya said Alvarez has an English tutor in training camp and that between his improving English skills and the new sponsorship deal the sky is the limit for his popularity.
"We're really excited they will be showcasing Canelo, especially to an English-speaking audience," De La Hoya said.
Tecate brand director Gustavo Guerra said signing Alvarez was a no-brainer.
He said the thrust of the deal with Alvarez is to market him to second- and third-generation Mexican-Americans, who may speak Spanish but conduct their daily lives in English. But non-Mexican consumers are bound to see the promotional spots and advertising as well.
"We're going to have for the first time national television spots in English to launch Canelo to a more general market," Guerra said. "We are putting everything behind Canelo because we know he is the next big star in boxing. It's the right move for us. Everything in our communications with consumers will involve Canelo. He is going to be front and center."