Junior middleweight titlist Erislandy Lara is hunkered down and training for his 155-pound nontitle bout against former titleholder Canelo Alvarez on July 12 (Showtime PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, but he opened his camp for media day on Thursday to talk about the fight.
Lara, who usually trains in Houston, is preparing in Las Vegas for the showdown, one that he vocally called Alvarez out for. In fact, after Alvarez's knockout win against Alfredo Angulo, also at the MGM Grand in March, Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) crashed his postfight news conference to confront him and call him out face to face.
Alvarez at first brushed Lara off, but eventually accepted the fight, which surprised Lara.
"Originally, I thought he would never take the fight because I confronted him in person and he said, 'No this is not how you make fights,'" Lara, a Cuban defector, said through a translator. "Then after the fans saw that he was ducking me on Twitter, he had no choice but to be a man and take the challenge."
Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs) has embraced fighting top opponents, so that he took the fight shouldn't be much of a surprise. The Mexican star faced (and defeated) Austin Trout last year when even members of his own team advised against it and then he faced pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a one-sided loss. After stopping Angulo (whom Lara has also defeated), Alvarez took up Lara's challenge.
Lara said he plans to fight Alvarez the way he fights all of his opponents.
"Nothing has to change. I just need to do the same things I always do and train," he said. "If I focus on training to win, there's no one in the world that can beat me.
"[A win] means everything to me. For me to demonstrate to the world that I'm not just better than him, but that I'm 150 percent better than him, means everything to me. Like I said before, I'm going to take him to Cuban school."
One interesting aspect of the fight is that Alvarez declined to fight for Lara's 154-pound title, which is why the fight is at a contract weight of 155 with no belt on the line. Lara would have liked to defend his title, but he wasn't calling the shots.
Lara said he thinks it's because Alvarez can't make weight. He struggled to make weight against Angulo, necessitating a last-minute contract change to raise the weight limit.
"Canelo can't make the weight so he refused to fight for the title," Lara said. "It's very disrespectful and my motivation to beat him has increased because of it."
With a victory, Lara said he would like a shot at Mayweather, the real champion at junior middleweight.
"Right now my focus is on Canelo and once I beat him then I'll be looking at other options," Lara said. "For sure, 100 percent I want Floyd Mayweather after this fight. He's considered the best fighter in the world and I want to be the first one to dethrone him."