ARGENTINA UFC star Santiago Ponzinibbio offered to fight Canelo Alvarez as he jumped to the defence of compatriot Lionel Messi.
Wild scenes in the Argentine dressing room followed after they kept their qualification hopes alive after they lost their first group match 2-1 to Saudi Arabia.
A clip was shared of the joyous scenes, but it showed a Mexico shirt on the floor near Messi, and as the Paris Saint-Germain man took his boot off, his foot brushed the jersey – which boxer Canelo found disrespectful.
And that led to the Mexican boxing legend saying Messi “better pray to God that I don’t find him”.
Canelo tweeted: “Did you guys see Messi cleaning the floor with our jersey and flag. 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.”
However, welterweight Ponzinibbio, who has won 28 of his 34 MMA fights, has now joined the likes of Sergio Aguero by wading into the row and having Messi’s back.
The grappler, who faces Robbie Lawler at UFC 282 on December 10, told MMA Fighting: “No point threatening Messi. Everybody knows Messi’s career. If [Canelo] doesn’t know he shouldn’t say a thing.
“It’s normal for players to throw jerseys on the ground, they are all sweaty, but he didn’t do anything disrespectful.
“Everybody that knows Messi knows he’s an impeccable athlete and a very respectful person.”
Ponzinibbio added: “[Messi] had an excellent match. I was upset. Brother, if you want to fight, I’m ready, but leave Messi be,
“You mess with Messi, you mess with the entire Argentina. Don’t bother the kid.”
Argentina face off with Poland in the third group game of the World Cup, with the two sides occupying the top two slots in Group C.
A draw will send Argentina through to the knockouts if Saudi Arabia and Mexico also draw, or if the Mexicans win by up to a two-goal margin.Lionel Messi will be hoping to fire Argentina into the knockouts later today[/caption]