Boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez has let loose on Lionel Messi after vision emerged of the Argentinian football icon stepping on a Mexican jersey in a World Cup dressing room.
Alvarez, a proud Mexican, took furious exception to the vision on Monday (AEDT), taking to Twitter to share his disgust alongside a threat of physical violence to the footballer.
“Did you guys see Messi cleaning the floor with our jersey and flag,” Alvarez tweeted.
“He better pray to God that I don’t find him.
“Just like I respect Argentina, he has to respect Mexico!
“I’m not talking about the country as a whole, just about the bulls**t that Messi did.”
In a series of follow-up tweets the WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF super middleweight world champion, who has won 58 of his 62 professional fights, responded to followers that were questioning his attack on Messi.
“Whoever doesn’t defend his homeland is an asshole… fanaticism is one thing, your identity is another. LONG LIVE MEXICO,” Alvarez wrote.
The 32-year-old pound-for-pound boxing king was reacting to vision taken in the dressing rooms following Argentina’s 2-0 group stage victory over Mexico on Sunday morning (AEDT).
The vision, which has been widely shared on Twitter, shows Messi inadvertently pushing a Mexico jersey aside with his foot as he attempts to take off his shoes while Argentina’s team celebrate their victory.
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An image taken just seconds earlier shows Messi standing up singing with teammates while standing either on or directly next to the Mexico jersey.
Messi appears to be completely unaware of the position of the Mexico jersey while he celebrates.
The 35-year-old had acquired the jersey just minutes earlier following an exchange with a Mexico player, a common occurrence at World Cups.
Argentinian fans were quick to defend Messi in response to Canelo’s aggressive tweeting, with one even drawing a response from the boxing star after writing: “In Argentina we respect you a lot, Canelo. And also Mexico.
“We are just very passionate and we go out of our way for football. Messi was taking off his boots and he didn’t even realise he could have kicked his shirt!”
In response Alvarez wrote: “I respect your country very much! This (issue) is not with your country.”
The dressing room celebrations from which the Messi vision emerged came after the Argentinian master powered his side to the crucial World Cup victory with an incredible goal that sent fans around the world wild.
Argentina looked to be 30 minutes away from being held to a disastrous draw when Messi struck a powerful low shot from outside the box.
Martin Tyler called it a goal of “top class” while former England striker Chris Sutton told the BBC it was a “moment of brilliance”.
The three points were sealed with rising star Enzo Fernandez curled home an 87th-minute strike at Doha’s Lusail Stadium.
The Group C win puts Argentina firmly back on track for a place in the last 16.
Messi’s goal meant he tied fellow Argentine icon, the late Diego Maradona, on eight goals and 21 appearances at the World Cup for Argentina.
It came a day after Argentines marked the second anniversary of Maradona’s death.
The goals were two rare moments of quality in a poor and tense encounter where the occasion seemed to get to everyone, except seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi.
The scenes from inside the stadium were absolutely bonkers as Messi celebrated his goal.
Messi also scored in Argentina’s opening loss to Saudi Arabia and has now scored in his last six matches for his national team.
Messi said after the match it is just the beginning.
“The first game cost us,” said Messi.
“We knew that we had to win today, that another World Cup was starting for us and we knew how to do it.
“It was a tough game to pick ourselves up for because Mexico play well.
“The played the first half with intensity but the second half we relaxed and became ourselves again.
“We cannot let up now. Every game is a final now, we cannot make any mistakes.”
Meanwhile, reports have emerged showing Messi is set to team up with David Beckham in Major League Soccer.
The Argentina legend is close to formalising an agreement to join the Beckham co-owned Inter Miami in a free transfer from Paris-Saint Germain in the summer of 2023 that would make him the highest-paid player in the history of MLS, according to the Sunday Times.
“I would like to play in the United States one day; it’s always been one of my dreams,” Messi told Spanish media last year.
According to the report, the MLS club managed by Beckham’s former Manchester United teammate Phil Neville is also considering adding Messi’s former Barcelona teammates, Luis Suarez and Cesc Fabregas.