Erislandy Lara: Defeat of Alvarez will prompt a Mayweather visit
Junior middleweight contender claims he'll whip "Canelo," then challenge "Money" at post-fight press conference later this year
Here’s a heads-up to Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s security team.
If Saturday night’s fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas goes in the favor of its underdog -- Cuban-born junior middleweight star Erislandy Lara -- you can expect Mr. Lara to be making an appearance at a Mayweather post-fight press conference come September.
But when he gets there, he won’t be offering “Money” his congratulations.
Rather, as Lara insisted Monday afternoon in a phone chat with CBSSports.com, he’ll be arriving at Mayweather’s presumably celebratory late-summer gathering with a less-cordial gesture in mind.
“First things first,” Lara said, referring to this weekend’s scheduled 12-round match with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, whom Mayweather defeated last September, “then Floyd Mayweather, I'll be at your press conference in September."
If he indeed defeats Alvarez and takes the subsequent gate-crashing tack, it won’t be a novelty.
Lara, who has 19 wins, a disputed loss and two draws in 22 pro fights, forced Alvarez’s hand in much the same manner after the Mexican returned from a Mayweather loss with a dominant 10th-round stoppage of Alfredo Angulo in March. He appeared at Alvarez’s post-fight gathering and demanded a match, then admitted shock when soon-to-be foe, who’s now 43-1-1, ultimately accepted.
The fight will headline a four-bout card on Showtime’s pay-per-view arm that will begin at 9 p.m. ET.
“I was definitely surprised. I never expected him to take the fight,” Lara said. “He accepted it, I think, because of the pressure put on him at the press conference and on social media and from the fans. They demanded he step up to face the best fighter in the division, and that’s me.”
In fact, the two fighters have exchanged foes to score their last two victories.
Lara fought Angulo nine months before Alvarez did and also emerged with a 10th-round win, though he had to climb off the floor twice to do so. The fight was ultimately stopped – with Lara behind on two of three official scorecards – when Angulo turned his back after taking a punch to the left eye, which prompted referee Raul Caiz Sr. to intervene.
Then, six months after beating Angulo, Lara scored a wide unanimous decision over Austin Trout, whom Alvarez had struggled mightily with en route to a more competitive 12-round win in April 2013.
Alvarez parlayed the Trout win into the mega-match with Mayweather, but Lara doesn’t seem particularly impressed after seeing him in-person at both the Trout and Angulo fights.
“I saw some things I can exploit,” he said, “whether they’re technical flaws or him just not being as fast.”
Alvarez is ranked No. 1 at 154 pounds by the Independent World Boxing Rankings, which slot all active fighters in a given weight class regardless of title belts. He was the World Boxing Council’s (WBC) champion for 30 months and defended his crown six times before losing to Mayweather, who’s since vacated the division to return to 147 pounds. Lara is one step behind in the IWBR rankings at No. 2 and he’s never fought for a championship.
No titles are on the line for Saturday’s fight, whose contracted weight limit is 155 pounds.
The pre-fight run-up has been particularly contentious, with Lara’s consistent belittling getting under Alvarez’s skin to point where his trainer, Chepo Reynoso, claimed Alvarez labeled Lara as “an obnoxious little child that needs to be put into his place.”
Lara claims there’s been nothing personal to the chatter, but he was far from apologetic.
“(Alvarez is) arrogant and high on his horse,” he said. “I want to knock him off that horse. As a person, no, because I don’t know him. But yes, there’s bad blood because he looked down on me and made me look like a nobody. I want to not only put a beating on him, but embarrass him and take him to school while showing him what boxing is all about.”
Alvarez is a slight favorite according to VegasInsider.com, where a $165 wager on him to win would return $100. Meanwhile, a $100 outlay on Lara would return $135 if he backs up his upset prediction.
And if that occurs, look for Showtime post-fight interviewer Jim Gray to make the message to Mayweather’s security team official from mid-ring.
“First things first, and that means Canelo Alvarez,” Lara said. “But when it comes to Jim Gray, we’ll be talking about the one everybody wants to see. After that there’s only one way up, and that’s Floyd Mayweather.”
Weekend Watch List
Fox Sports 1 -- Wednesday, 10 p.m.
Alfonso Gomez vs. Ed Paredes – 10 rounds, junior middleweights
Fox Sports 1 -- Thursday, 10 p.m.
Argenis Mendez vs. Rances Barthelemy – IBF junior lightweight title
ESPN2 -- Friday, 9 p.m
Tureano Johnson vs. Mike Gavronski --– 10 rounds, middleweights
Jonathan Maicelo vs. Art Hovhannisyan -- 10 rounds, lightweights
Showtime -- Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Tomoki Kameda vs. Pungluang Sor Singyu -- WBO bantamweight title
Showtime PPV -- Saturday 9 p.m.
Erislandy Lara vs. Saul Alvarez -- 12 rounds, middleweights
Abner Mares vs. Jonathan Oquendo -- 10 rounds, featherweights
Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Francisco Vargas -- 10 rounds, junior lightweights
Johan Perez vs. Mauricio Herrera -- 12 rounds, junior welterweights
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