Former junior middleweight titleholder Canelo Alvarez could have picked just about any opponent he wanted and still made a big payday in his July 12 fight.
But Alvarez, motivated by naysayers who believe he would duck certain opponents, is not that kind of guy. He doesn't take the easy way out.
This is the man who demanded a tough fight with Austin Trout when many on his own team were against it. Alvarez wound up winning a close (but deserved) decision to unify belts last April.
Then Alvarez took on pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., the best in the business, and lost a lopsided decision and his undefeated record. But Alvarez dared to be great by taking the fight. Of course, the massive payday didn’t hurt either.
After rebounding to knock out Alfredo Angulo, a dangerous puncher, in a one-sided fight last month, Alvarez once again set his mind to facing the toughest opponent he could.
He asked Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer get him titleholder Erislandy Lara, who had been calling Alvarez out.
Their Showtime PPV headliner, agreed to Monday, will be a nontitle bout at 155 pounds (one over the division limit) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Alvarez apparently didn’t care about the title and didn’t want to pay a sanctioning fee, but the lack of a belt on the line in the fight and a one-pound difference from the championship weight is irrelevant. It will prove a lot if Alvarez can beat Lara, a technically savvy former Cuban amateur star and one of the more avoided fighters in boxing. The 30-year-old Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) also owns a knockout win against Angulo and a decision win against Trout.
"This fight against Erislandy Lara is very important in my career because it is an opponent with vast experience in both the amateur and professional field, and I am sure the styles will match to provide an explosive battle and great atmosphere that night," Alvarez said in comments translated by Golden Boy publicist Ramiro Gonzalez.
Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs), the 23-year-old Mexican star, said his desire is to fight the opponents the public and media want him to fight, which is why he insisted that Schaefer get him Lara, who pulled out of a previously scheduled defense against Ishe Smith to make it happen.
"Lara, the media and fans around the world wanted this match to take place, and here I am -- amply fulfilling them since I have no doubt that everyone will be completely satisfied.”
Win or lose, Alvarez's decision to face the best opponents available should earn him massive respect and serve as a lesson for others who look for the easy way out.