Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the unified junior middleweight champion, but he is also the unified welterweight champion -- thanks to the sanctioning organizations breaking their own rules and allowing him to hold two belts in each weight class.
When Mayweather returns in September, he is planning to fight at welterweight for the second bout in a row.
That leaves Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara as the two top junior middleweights in the world, especially considering that in Miguel Cotto’s last fight he stopped Sergio Martinez to win the middleweight world championship.
So when former unified titleholder Alvarez and reigning titlist Lara meet on Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 9 ET) in the main event of Golden Boy Promotions’ “Honor & Glory” card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, it will be for bragging rights as the best junior middleweight in the world.
However, the scheduled 12-round fight is being contested at a maximum weight of 155 pounds, one over the division limit. Therefore, Lara’s world title will not be at stake.
It wasn’t Lara’s call. He wanted to defend his belt for the first time. It was Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs) who declined to fight for the title and since he is the star of the show, Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) had no choice but to agree or risk losing the most significant fight of his career.
It seems odd given how much fighters love belts, but Alvarez said he doesn’t care about the title.
“Titles are always nice, but for me this fight is bigger than a title fight,” Alvarez said through a translator. “This fight is for my honor and glory to bring to the Mexican people. It is a fight for honor and it is a fight that people wanted to see.”
Lara won a vacant interim belt by stopping Alfredo Angulo in the 10th round 13 months ago and then defended by easy decision win against Austin Trout in December. But not long after that fight, Lara was elevated to a full titleholder.
He is not happy about his title not being on the line against Alvarez, and he has a theory as to why.
"Canelo can't make the weight so he refused to fight for the title,” Lara said through a translator. “It's very disrespectful and my motivation to beat him has increased because of it."
Indeed, Alvarez had to change the contract weight of his March fight against Angulo from 154 to 155 at the last minute, so maybe Lara is on to something.
Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya dismissed that notion, as did Alvarez.
“This fight is not about a title. This fight is about honor and glory,” De La Hoya said.
Added Alvarez, “I feel very comfortable at 154, and I'll be here for the next few years, if not the rest of my career. I don't know yet. It's when my body tells me otherwise that it's time to move then we'll do it. But I'm very comfortable right now at 154.”
And also, apparently, quite comfortable not fighting for a title.