Canelo-Lara: What's in a nickname?

When Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and junior middleweight titlist Erislandy "The American Dream" Lara meet in a 155-pound showdown on July 12 (Showtime PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the fight is to essentially crown the world's No. 1 junior middleweight not named Floyd Mayweather Jr., even if the fight is a nontitle bout one pound over the division limit.

But it also matches two guys with distinct nicknames. Ever wonder where thir nicknames came from? Glad you asked.

"My nickname was given to me by my trainer Jose 'Chepo' Reynoso when I first started training at Reynoso's Gym because of my red hair," Alvarez said. "First they called me 'Canelito' [Little Cinnamon] because I was still very young, around 12 or 13 years old. As I grew older, it changed to 'Canelo.'

"Since I started fighting in the U.S. as a professional on U.S. television, I dropped the 'Saul' altogether because it has become a brand name and is my persona in the ring and out of it. What some people may not know is that I named my daughter Canela and I told her, 'Once you grow up, you will understand what your name means and you will be proud of it.'"

Lara, a Cuban defector now based in Houston, wanted his name to reflect his new and better life.

"I thought of the name 'The American Dream' with my co-manager Luis DeCubas Jr., because I defected from Cuba to achieve my dreams," Lara said. "Since I've been living in the United States, my family and I have truly been living the American dream.

"Coming from literally nothing, and receiving my first pair of shoes at the age of eight in a communist country, sometimes you don't realize how important opportunity and freedom is until you have lived it. With hard work, a good team and the support of my wife, Yudi, behind me, I've been able to provide my family with a roof over their head, a good education, and daily meals that I never experienced as a kid in Cuba, but most importantly freedom.

"I risked my life in shark-infested waters leaving my mother, children and friends behind to escape a country led by a ruthless dictator to better my life, and my family's lives. It took a lot of courage but that's what I had to do to fulfill my dream of becoming a world champion, and it happened in the great United States of America, hence my nickname 'The American Dream.'"