Who had an international boxing star threatening an international soccer icon on their 2022 Bingo card?
With the FIFA World Cup in full swing, there's been a massive spotlight on the soccer stars in search of glory for their home countries. And for Argentina national team superstar Lionel Messi, the spotlight - believe it or not - got even brighter.
On Sunday, Mexican boxing star Canelo Alvarez threatened Messi for allegedly disrespecting Mexico after a video surfaced of Messi and the Argentina locker room celebration following their 2-0 victory over Mexico. In the clip, Messi was seen taking off his cleats, and Messi's foot appears to make contact with a Mexico jersey that was on the floor.
Canelo accused Messi of kicking the shirt intentionally, which sparked a series of angry tweets from the boxing champ that spanned several days. Many soccer players, boxers, musicians, and others have weighed in on the matter as well.
MMA Junkie caught up with six notable Argentine MMA fighters to get their reaction to the situation, which you can read below.
Guido Cannetti, UFC bantamweight
"I thought Canelo's reaction was very strange, and I couldn't believe that Messi had done that. So I went and looked at what he did, and what Canelo was saying had no truth. Then I saw that Canelo had published something like Messi was cleaning the floor (with the shirt), and that's when I realized that Canelo had made a mistake. His reaction was too premature. I don't think Canelo had any bad intention, but the bad thing is that he didn't come out and apologize, 'Hey, I'm sorry. I made a mistake.' That would've been much better, and it would've fixed all this much quicker. This stance he took makes him lose prestige and value on his word."
Ailin Perez, UFC women's bantamweight
"I'm going to speak out on what happened, because I can't stay silent. I'm not surprised that Messi is being attacked, but I am surprised that it's coming from Canelo. I don't think it's fair of what he accused him. He's wrong. He's mistaken. No, Canelo, you're messing up. With Messi, no. Whatever you think about the video, Messi is not clueless. He's a humble person, and I'm going to defend him. I think a lot of Argentines are on my side, too. Canelo, you're non-existent. What's wrong with you, Canelo? Get a grip."
Emiliano Sordi, 2019 PFL light heavyweight champion
"I was surprised that Canelo reacted that way. I don't know who saw that video, but I didn't expect that kind of response from it. It makes no sense. I don't think there were any bad intentions from Messi. It was something completely normal that happens in a football stadium, in a locker room. It's completely normal to do something like that in a locker room. All the jerseys, socks, pants, everything that was used for the game goes on the floor as the staff comes and picks it up and takes it.
"I know that Messi is super humble and respectful. He would never do something like that with a rival's jersey. … I think it was a heat of the moment type thing, and now he messed up, and he can't take it back, so he's doubling down. But in two or three days this will all be forgotten. Also, let's pretend that Canelo would try something on Messi. Messi probably has like 30 or 40 securities around him. I see it tough for Canelo to get close to him."
Laureano Staropoli, former UFC welterweight
"I was surprised. Canelo is a very respectful fighter and to see him with that bullsh*t, it surprised me. My first reaction was, 'Why the drama?' I saw the video, and Leo (Messi) didn't mean to insult or step on the flag. He just kicked off a boot, and the Mexican jersey just happened to be on the floor. It wasn't something that he intentionally did. It was something that's very routine in locker rooms. You throw the shirts on the floor or on the bench, and you're not thinking about disrespecting a country. You're just thinking that you won, you passed a difficult challenge, and you're just getting settled. There was no intention of disrespecting anyone.
"And in my opinion, Canelo needs to stop those silly acts. There's far more important things to fight for or critique than what Messi did. Messi is a gentleman. Canelo, cut the bullsh*t."
Silvana Gomez Juarez, former UFC strawweight
Silvana Gomez Juarez
"My first reaction was to look up the video to see if it was real or not. We know Messi's sporting life, and he's 100 percent a respectful person. So from the first instance, I didn't believe it, but then I looked at the video. Argentina's celebrations are always passionate, but I didn't see anything wrong in the video.
"I don't think the critique around the video is fair. What Canelo said happened, it didn't happen. It was just a celebration of something big for Argentina. It was an excellent game. Messi deserved that. So, yeah, the criticism is not fair."
Bruno Cannetti, former Combate Global champion
"It caught my attention that Canelo threatened Messi, who's super tranquil. He's not a disrespectful person. So I had heard about it, and the first thing was to look at the video to see what happened, why Canelo was so angry.
"I thought Canelo's reaction was overblown. Messi touches the jersey with the foot while he was talking. There was no intention there. I actually follow Canelo as a boxer a lot, but in this one he dropped the ball.
"I don't know if Canelo was doing a marketing strategy. I don't think he needs one with how popular he is. I don't know if he was mad at the result, but, Canelo, don't mess with Messi or everything will rot."
Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie
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