Dan Rafael: Canelo Alvarez

Miguel Cotto, Sergio MartinezChris Farina/Top RankAfter destroying Sergio Martinez in June, Miguel Cotto, left, is ready for a December return.
Many of us would love to see middleweight champion Miguel Cotto have his next fight against titleholder Gennady Golovkin or junior middleweight star Canelo Alvarez.

Neither is going to happen, however. At least not next. I know none of us like that. Just accept it.

It seems doubtful a Golovkin fight will ever happen, and an Alvarez showdown -- for my money, the biggest fight in boxing outside of a Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao fight -- probably would not take place until the spring of 2015, if it can even be made.

But Cotto plans to fight again this year, which is a good thing. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum says the date is Dec. 13 at New York’s Madison Square Garden, which is essentially the Puerto Rican star’s home arena.

Arum has also said that he would like for Cotto’s next fight to be on regular HBO, as opposed to HBO PPV, mainly because his June fight with Sergio Martinez was a huge disappointment in terms of the pay-per-view sales. But even if Arum wants it on HBO, it is still likely to be on HBO PPV because I’m told Cotto wants to be on pay-per-view and that HBO likely won’t be able to afford the level of license fee to have him on the network.

So whom can Cotto fight that would A) make for a good fight; B) draw a big crowd at MSG (although not necessarily a big PPV audience) and C) be a fight in which the challenger has a reasonable chance to win but a fight in which Cotto will be the favorite so as not to put Cotto-Alvarez into too much jeopardy.

Hello, Andy Lee!

He is a possible opponent for Cotto.

Top Rank and Cotto’s camp still need to go over the particulars of what Cotto wants for the December fight. But Top Rank has Lee on its short list for Cotto and Lou DiBella, Lee’s promoter, said he and Arum have spoken and that the fight is a possibility.

Frankly, if Cotto isn’t fighting Golovkin or Alvarez, Cotto-Lee makes a lot of sense.

Remember, Lee, who has been on HBO a few times, was supposed to fight Golovkin in April on the network, but the fight was canceled after Golovkin’s father died. He is a legitimate contender and it probably would be a crowd-pleasing fight.

When the Golovkin fight was canceled, Lee wound up winning a small-time fight in Denmark on April 12 and then fought John Jackson on the June 7 Cotto-Martinez pay-per-view undercard, surviving a hard knockdown in the first round to rally for a highlight-reel fifth-round knockout victory. That means that Lee and Cotto are on the same schedule.

Lee is also Irish, and the Irish fans in New York have always supported their fighters by gobbling up tickets.

[+] EnlargeAndy Lee
Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesAndy Lee of Ireland, left, could be Miguel Cotto's next opponent in December.
“Bob knows we won’t price ourselves out. He knows we want the fight and knows Andy sells a lot of tickets,” DiBella said. “I really believe you’ll have a similar crowd to what Cotto-Martinez drew, and Andy really wants the fight. Bob and I have worked together on fights before. I’m sure HBO would like Andy as an opponent, and I know the Garden loves the fight. Bob and I talked about it, and he knows we want the fight.

“Andy has wanted the opportunity to fight a legend. If you’re a fighter and you don’t want to fight a future Hall of Famer and the middleweight champion of the world, you’re not a real fighter. Andy Lee is a real fighter. It’s a tremendous fight. Say what you want, but Andy can crack and he showed he can overcome adversity against Jackson.”

Arum and DiBella have made plenty of fights together over the years, including some that were more complicated than a Cotto-Lee match would be, such as the Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. pay-per-view in 2012.

“All my dealing with Top Rank have been good. We have always worked well together, and when there is a fight that we have tried to make, there’s never been a fight we couldn’t get done,” DiBella said. “If Bob and Cotto want to make this deal, we’ll make it very easily. We could do it in one phone call.”

Lee (33-2, 23 KOs) challenged then-titleholder Chavez for his world title in June 2012 and was stopped in the seventh round of a competitive fight. Lee, a 30-year-old southpaw, has won five fights in a row since.

By stopping Martinez in the 10th round, Cotto (39-4, 32 KOs), 33, became the first Puerto Rican boxer to win world titles in four weight classes, further enhancing his Hall of Fame credentials.
James Kirkland-Glen TapiaChris Farina/Top RankJames Kirkland, left, has been inactive since his exciting December knockout against Glen Tapia.
One of the more common questions I get these days from #FightFreaks in the non-Mayweather/non-Pacquiao category is: "What's up with James Kirkland?"

Kirkland, of course, is the wildly aggressive and wildly entertaining junior middleweight power puncher with a shaky chin, and that always makes things interesting when he's in the ring.

He was last seen doing a number on Glen Tapia in December, engaging him in a tremendously exciting and competitive fight for three rounds and then beating Tapia down for three more rounds until the fight was finally stopped in the sixth round. It was a big win for Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs), 30, of Austin, Texas, to bump off the undefeated prospect.

Rather than capitalize on the slugfest that had so many fans talking about him, Kirkland, for what seems like the millionth time, wound up in a layoff and in a snit with his handlers, trying to break contracts with his managers and trainer Ann Wolfe (who has a small percentage of his managerial contract).

That led to yet another layoff, although it's better for Kirkland to have that kind of layoff than some of the others he has had in the past when he was in prison.

So I checked in with Michael Miller, Kirkland's co-manager, on Thursday to see what was going on with the fighter. Miller said the managers had their contract upheld by a judge in March and that they and promoter Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson are trying to line something up for him.

"It's frustrating to watch him sit," Miller said. "James wasn't communicating very well with his promoter, 50 Cent, or with us. But we finally said, 'Why don't we all work together and try to put it back together,' and that's where we are."

Kirkland figures to land a major fight before the end of the year, considering former junior middleweight titlist Canelo Alvarez plans to fight in November, and newly crowned middleweight champ Miguel Cotto intends to fight in December. They both need an opponent and Kirkland would make sense for either.

Miller, who has a good relationship with Eric Gomez, the vice president and matchmaker for Golden Boy, which used to promote Kirkland, said they have been talking about a possible Alvarez fight.

"Eric and I have kicked around the idea of a Canelo fight," Miller said. "We talked about if Canelo was offered would we need a tune-up fight? Kirkland doesn't need a tune up. I said talk to 50 Cent and see if we can put it together. If not, we'll listen to other offers. We're open to suggestions. If Cotto makes sense, of course, we'd listen.

"But the fight Kirkland has wanted is Canelo. He has wanted it forever. He screwed himself two years ago, but he's still motivated to fight Canelo and would take it in a heartbeat."

In May 2012, days after Paul Williams was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident and his September 2012 fight with Alvarez was canceled, Kirkland accepted the fight as a substitute opponent.

But days later, Kirkland dropped out saying his injured shoulder was not 100 percent. But he also said he would go through with the fight for more money. The fight ultimately went to Josesito Lopez.

Miller is hoping to revive the fight with Alvarez or land Cotto.

"We'd prefer Canelo, but Cotto would be fine too," Miller said, adding that he saw Kirkland last weekend and that he was in good shape and weighing about 175 pounds.

Miller also manages junior middleweight Alfredo Angulo, who was stopped by Alvarez in the 10th round in March and has lost two fights in a row by 10th-round stoppage.

Angulo (22-4, 18 KOs), who lost a fantastic fight to Kirkland in 2011, is training with Virgil Hunter in the Bay Area and looking for a fall return.

"I'm hoping to get him on the Floyd Mayweather undercard with Mayweather's approval," Miller said of Mayweather's Sept. 13 rematch against Marcos Maidana. "When I was talking to Eric about Angulo [who is with Golden Boy], that's when Canelo and Kirkland came up," Miller said.
Adrien Broner Al Bello/Golden Boy/Golden Boy/Getty ImagesAdrien Broner will return as a junior welterweight to headline a tripleheader Sept. 6.

Junior welterweight contenders Adrien Broner and Lucas Matthysse are both penciled in for Sept. 6 returns on Showtime, although not against each other.

Golden Boy Promotions is working on putting together a tripleheader for the show, which Broner (28-1, 22 KOs) would headline in his second fight since moving down to junior welterweight after losing his welterweight belt to Marcos Maidana in a terrific fight in December. Broner bounced back from a loss on May 3 on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Maidana undercard to win a one-sided 10-round decision against Carlos Molina.

“Broner would be the main event with Matthysse as a co-feature. I can confirm that,” Golden Boy Promotions vice president Eric Gomez told ESPN.com. “We don’t have a confirmation on a third fight yet. I gave [Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza] a few ideas. He’s supposed to let me know. He’s willing to do a tripleheader, but the third fight is up in the air.”

So are the opponents for Broner and Matthysse, although Gomez has a list of potential foes he said he and Espinoza are discussing.

Although Gomez would love to match Broner and Matthysse with each other at some point, people should not read into their appearance on the same card as any sort of official prelude to such a fight.

“No, they are not fighting each other [on Sept. 6],” Gomez said. “I would love for them to fight each other, but right now it’s just two guys who need to fight. These are two exciting fighters and two of the top guys in the division fighting on the same card.”

The location for the card has not been determined. Gomez said that Broner would like it to be in his hometown of Cincinnati, which is a possibility. South Florida and San Antonio, where Maidana beat Broner, are other possibilities.

Matthysse (35-3, 33 KOs), a big puncher from Argentina, lost a decision in a high-profile fight to unified junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia last September on the Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez undercard and bounced back to stop John Molina in the 11th round in April in a fantastic fight, one that is a leading fight of the year candidate.

Andrade wants a piece of Canelo

July, 16, 2014
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Junior middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade, like every other 154-pounder, wants to fight Canelo Alvarez because it means big money and recognition.

Andrade (21-0, 14 KOs), a 2008 U.S. Olympian, hasn’t had a really big fight yet. He won his title in November and made his first title defense on June 14 by dominating mandatory challenger Brian Rose. He dropped Rose twice and stopped him in the seventh round of a blowout.

Andrade has nothing scheduled, although a fight with former welterweight titlist Joshua Clottey has been thrown around. But what Andrade, 26, of Providence, Rhode Island, wants is a major fight, which one with former unified titleholder Alvarez would be.

Alvarez, who outpointed Erislandy Lara last Saturday night in a Showtime PPV headliner, is slated to fight again in November and has no opponent lined up. So Andrade, of course, is throwing his name into contention.

"I read some comments that Oscar [De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter] made to Lara after the fight that there is a line about 10 people deep to fight Canelo, and Lara would have to get to the back of it,” Andrade said. “What Oscar failed to mention is that line forms behind me.

"I am the WBO champion and I am undefeated. As I look down the rankings, I just defeated my mandatory Brian Rose, and Alvarez is ranked No. 2 by the WBO. He will be elevated to No. 1, and I am ready and willing to fight him for my title. I just hope he would be prepared for the beating I will put on him."

It’s hard to blame Andrade, an outstanding technical boxer with underrated power, for calling Alvarez out. If the fight ever did happen Andrade would probably give him fits if not beat him outright.
The contracts are filed with the Nevada State Athletic Commission so here's the rundown of the purses for the "Honor & Glory" card on Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas:

• In the main event, fought at a catchweight of 155 pounds, Canelo Alvarez will receive a $1.5 million purse but likely will make more based on pay-per-view sales and Mexican television revenue. His promotional company, Canelo Promotions, is also likely getting a nice chunk of change. Erislandy Lara will make a career-high $1 million for his first pay-per-view main event.

• In the featherweight co-feature, former titlist Abner Mares will make $400,000 for his first fight in the 11 months since he lost his title by first-round knockout and opponent Jonathan Oquendo will receive $50,000.

• Former two-division titlist Juan Manuel Lopez will make $125,000 for his junior lightweight bout with Francisco Vargas, who is getting $75,000.

• Interim junior welterweight titlist Johan Perez is making $100,000 while challenger Mauricio Herrera will receive $125,000.

• In a bantamweight title bout on the card but being televised on Showtime before the pay-per-view begins, Tomoki Kameda is making $60,000 for his title defense against Pungluang Sor Singyu, who gets $40,000.

Alvarez aims for big dates

July, 8, 2014
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Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, the former unified junior middleweight titleholder, is Mexico’s biggest active boxing star. He draws significant attention, makes entertaining fights, and sells tickets and pay-per-views.

The two most important fight weekends for a Mexican boxing star are Cinco de Mayo in early May and Mexican Independence Day in mid-September.

Alvarez is anxious to claim them as his own pay-per-view dates. But recently he has been blocked by pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., who has been fighting on those prime dates.

It happened in 2013 when Mayweather fought Robert Guerrero in May, and it has happened again this year. Mayweather faced Argentina’s Marcos Maidana on May 3 and is scheduled to fight again on Sept. 13, probably a rematch with Maidana.

Other than when Mayweather faced Alvarez in September 2013 -- in the highest-grossing fight in boxing history and second-best-selling pay-per-view ever -- Alvarez has had to play second fiddle and fight elsewhere on the calendar for the past two years.

Alvarez wound up facing Austin Trout in a junior middleweight unification fight in April 2013 rather than in May because of Mayweather. And Alvarez didn’t fight in May this year and won't be fighting in September.

Instead, Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs) fought Alfredo Angulo in March and will return to face 154-pound titlist Erislandy Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) in a nontitle bout on Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Alvarez’s fall fight probably won’t come until November or December.

Alvarez said he is tired of ceding the important Mexican dates to Mayweather, who is not even fighting Mexican opponents.

“I want to retake those dates and bring them back,” Alvarez said. “Those dates are Mexican dates. They're Mexican independence dates, and yes, for next year I will be fighting, I want to be fighting on those dates.”

Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter, said he plans to secure those dates for his company’s most important fighter.

“Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez has given me strict orders,” De La Hoya said. “Obviously, he wants to follow in the footsteps of the great champions hailing from Mexico like Julio Cesar Chavez, fighters that have started the tradition of fighting [on] Cinco de Mayo, started the tradition of fighting in September. Canelo now being a star of his own and a big draw and a person who the fans adore, me -- as his promoter -- it is my obligation to do what's best for the fighter.

“So we're obviously focusing 100 percent on Erislandy Lara, and then we will be sitting down with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and plan out his future.”
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.

[+] EnlargeErislandy Lara
Ray Spencer/Hoganphotos/Golden BoyAfter risking his life to defect from his native Cuba, Erislandy Lara has taken on the moniker of "The American Dream."
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.'"

Video: FNF News And Notes

June, 28, 2014
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videoESPN.com senior writer Dan Rafael joins "Friday Night Fights" to look at the Aug. 9 card featuring junior welterweight titlists Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson, preview the July 12 pay-per-view bout between Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara and update the latest on a possible featherweight tournament.

Lara: First Canelo, then Floyd

June, 27, 2014
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Erislandy LaraMaddie Meyer/Getty ImagesJunior middleweight titlist Erislandy Lara believes he will take Canelo Alvarez to school on July 12.
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."

Canelo-Lara on big screen

June, 18, 2014
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Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara are coming to a movie theater near you.

Golden Boy Promotions and Fathom Events announced on Monday that the 155-pound nontitle showdown between former junior middleweight titlist Canelo Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs) and reigning titleholder Erislandy Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) on July 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas will be shown in nearly 200 movie theaters across the country.

The HD presentation of the "Honor & Glory" card will be the same Showtime PPV broadcast those at home will see. You can find a list of participating theaters (as well as ticket prices, which vary theater to theater) at www.FathomEvents.com.

"I'm expecting one of the toughest fights of my career on July 12, so knowing that I'll have my fans cheering me on, not just in the arena but in movie theaters throughout the country, has me even more motivated to beat Erislandy Lara and give the fans a fight to remember," Alvarez said as part of the announcement.

Said Lara, "This is the fight that the fans and I demanded and now they will get to see it on a grand scale. There is no better situation in boxing than to see two hungry fighters willing to put everything on the line for the honor and glory of their fans. I'll be sending a strong message to the world come July 12th."

Golden Boy and Fathom Events have teamed to bring the promotional company's pay-per-view events to movie theaters for the past few years.

"Fight fans will not want to miss this epic bout between Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara," said Fathom Events chief executive John Rubey. "Seeing this event on the big screen will be as close as you can get to a ringside experience."
Floyd Mayweather Jr.Getty ImagesFloyd Mayweather Jr. made $105 million in the last 12 months, according to Forbes Magazine.

Floyd “Money” Mayweather is in the money yet again, according to Forbes Magazine, which has named the pound-for-pound king the year’s highest-paid athlete in the world for the second time in three years.

Mayweather earned $105 million in the past 12 months from his two fights against Canelo Alvarez in September and Marcos Maidana in May. That takes into account his guaranteed purses as well as the millions he earned from his percentage of the profits of the pay-per-views.

All of Mayweather’s money came from boxing with none from endorsements. Mayweather also topped the 2012 list with $85 million.

According to Forbes, Mayweather is the only athlete besides Tiger Woods, who topped the list in 11 of the past 12 years, to crack $100 million in earnings in a year, although Michael Jordan, Michael Schumacher and Mike Tyson did it on an inflation-adjusted basis.

ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated identified Mayweather as the highest-paid athlete in both 2012 and 2013.

"I'm humbled and extremely fortunate to be recognized by Forbes as the highest-paid athlete once again," Mayweather said in a statement. “I'm doing something that no other athlete is doing, promoting myself and seeing my hard work pay off in the form of record-breaking numbers. It's all about hard work and dedication, which is so important and a key part of my financial success.

"I'm grateful for my family, team and fans. Being able to take care of my family is my No. 1 priority, and the level of success that I've achieved allows me to give them the best. I look forward to stepping into the ring in September and doing what I do best."

Mayweather, the junior middleweight and welterweight champion, is scheduled to fight again on Sept. 13 against an opponent to be determined at a location to be determined.

Besides Mayweather, three other boxers cracked the Forbes Top 100: Manny Pacquiao (11th, $48.1 million), Wladimir Klitschko (25th, $28 million) and Canelo Alvarez (66th, $21 million).

No. 2 on the overall list was soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, with $80 million in earnings from his salary and 11 endorsements. LeBron James was third at $72.3 million.

Forbes based its figures on salaries, bonuses, prize money and appearance fees, plus licensing and endorsement income, that was earned during the 12 months between June 1, 2013 and June 1, 2014.

Canelo-Lara: No. 1 vs. No. 2

May, 8, 2014
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Canelo AlvarezSoobum Im/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsLooking for the toughest test available in his division, Canelo Alvarez set to face Erislandy Lara.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the unified junior middleweight champion, but his fight last week against Marcos Maidana was at welterweight, where the pound-for-pound king won and also unified titles.

So with Mayweather out of the 154-pound division for the time being, that leaves former titleholder Canelo Alvarez (who lost to Mayweather in a rout in September) and secondary titlist Erislandy Lara as the two best in the business at junior middleweight.

That fact has been played up this week as Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez, Lara and their entourages have taken to the road for a four-city tour -- Tuesday in Los Angeles, Wednesday in San Antonio, Thursday in New York and the conclusion on Friday in Puerto Rico -- to promote their nontitle fight (at 155 pounds) on July 12 (Showtime PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

"Right now you are looking at the best 154-pounders in the division, Lara and Canelo," De La Hoya said. "The fact that Canelo wanted this fight shows you that he wants to be great and he wants to fight the best in order to be known as great.

"I commend Canelo for choosing this opponent. He's dangerous and he's a real opponent. There's a lot of similarities between these two fighters and come July 12 we'll see who is the best. I think this is going to be a terrific fight."

Indeed, Alvarez, Mexico's most popular active fighter and a burgeoning pay-per-view attraction, could have picked just about any opponent and made a big payday.

But Alvarez picked the most difficult opponent he could in Lara, a slick Cuban southpaw who many thought he would avoid.

"He is choosing to fight someone that no one wants to fight," said Showtime Sports executive vice president and general manager Stephen Espinoza. "Lara is one of the most talented and skilled boxers in the sport. This fight represents everything that is right about boxing -- the best fighting the best. No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the division ... This fight sells itself."

Following the loss to Mayweather, the 23-year-old Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs) took on rugged Mexican countryman Alfredo Angulo on March 8 and stopped him in the 10th round of a surprisingly one-sided fight.

After the fight Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs), a 31-year-old defector living in Houston, who had stopped Angulo last June (and then outpointed Austin Trout in December), called out Alvarez at his postfight news conference.

Eventually, Alvarez took up the challenge, wanting to prove that he was not going to duck a top opponent with a very difficult style.

"Lara has talked a lot, you guys [the fans] asked for the fight, and here it is," Alvarez said through a translator. "What you guys ask from me, I will give you. A lot have asked me, 'Why did you take this fight?' I say 'Why not? I will fight anyone. Style doesn't matter.'

"The reality is that a year ago the fans didn't really know Lara. Nobody really knew him. But he has been talking so much that now it's built up and the fans asked for it, so I wanted to give them what they wanted. He disrespected me. But not only me, he disrespected all Mexicans. For him to be saying that he's going to give me a boxing lesson and he's going to take me to school, that's very disrespectful."

Lara did what he had to do to get the fight, whether it was to insult Alvarez on social media or crash his news conference after the fight with Angulo.

"I've never tried this hard to get a fight, and actually get it like I did for this one," Lara said through a translator. "I went to extreme measures, doing things I've never done before. I'm a pretty laid-back guy, but I did everything I could to challenge him and make people, the fans and the media demand that he fight me. It's all because I want to prove that I am the best 154-pound fighter in the world.

"I think he is having problems with weight. That's why he wanted that extra one pound and why we're not fighting for my title. I'm not sure what kind of fight this will be. It could be a war, and I could stand toe-to-toe like I did against Alfredo Angulo, or I can box. It depends how I decide to fight him in the ring. This is the fight, my fight. I win this, I've earned the right to fight Floyd Mayweather next."
As junior middleweights Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara set out on the media tour this week to promote their July 12 Showtime PPV showdown at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, one of the televised undercard bouts has been set.

Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez, a former featherweight and junior featherweight titlist, will face Francisco Vargas of Mexico, Lopez promoter Peter Rivera, who has begun to work closely with Golden Boy, announced on Monday.

The fight will take place in the junior lightweight division and push the victor closer to a mandatory shot against titleholder Mikey Garcia, although he is likely to vacate the belt before he ever faces the winner.

The 30-year-old Lopez (34-3, 31 KOs) more or less resuscitated his career on March 15 by scoring a second-round knockout of former two-division titlist Daniel Ponce De Leon in their rematch. Lopez had also knocked Ponce De Leon out in the first round to win a junior featherweight title in 2008.

Vargas (19-0-1, 13 KOs), 29, has begun to step up his level of competition and has two solid wins in a row, 10-round decision victories against Jerry Belmontes, who lost a highly competitive decision to Omar Figueroa in a world title bout last month, and Abner Cotto, the cousin of Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto.

“It's another battle between Puerto Rico and Mexico and between two former Olympians,” said Rivera, nothing that Lopez represented Puerto Rico in the 2004 Olympics and Vargas was on the Mexican squad in 2008.

Both fighters will be on hand Friday at the fourth and final stop of the promotional tour in Carolina, Puerto Rico.

Canelo, Lara to hit the road

May, 3, 2014
May 3
1:21
AM ET
Canelo Alvarez and junior middleweight titlist Erislandy Lara, who meet in a scheduled 12-round 155-pound nontitle bout in the main event of a Showtime PPV card on July 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, are hitting the road to promote their showdown, which has been dubbed “Honor & Glory” by Golden Boy Promotions.

They will embark on a four-city promotional tour with stops in Los Angeles, San Antonio, New York and Puerto Rico with all four stops being open to the public for free.

They kick things off on Tuesday at the El Pueblo Historical Monument in Los Angeles at 1 p.m. PT. Then it’s off to San Antonio for a stop at the Downtown Historic Market Square at 1 p.m. CT. The crew heads to New York for a stop on Thursday at the Hard Rock in Times Square at 1:30 p.m. ET. And they finish on Friday at the Ritz-Carlton in San Juan Puerto Rico at 1 p.m. AST.

Alvarez, trainer Chepo Reynoso, Lara, trainer Ronnie Shields and Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya are all scheduled to make the trip.

With Floyd Mayweather Jr. moving back down to welterweight for Saturday night’s fight with Marcos Maidana, Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs) and Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) are the top two junior middleweights in the world.

Alvarez, 23, of Mexico, rebounded from his one-sided loss to Mayweather in September to knock out Alfredo Angulo in the 10th round on March 8. Lara, 31, a Cuban defector living in Houston, is coming off a one-sided decision win against former titleholder Austin Trout in December.

Jermall Charlo back in action

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
11:13
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Jermall Charlo thought he would be challenging Carlos Molina for his junior middleweight title March 8 in one of the featured bouts on the Canelo Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo Showtime PPV undercard at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

It was a huge opportunity for Charlo, who was excited for the shot. And then a few days before the fight, Molina was jailed in Las Vegas on an outstanding warrant and also discovered to be in the United States illegally.

The fight was canceled. Just like that, Charlo’s title opportunity was gone, as was a career-high $100,000 purse.

But Golden Boy Promotions promised to get Charlo back into the ring as soon as possible, and that will happen Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.

Charlo (17-0, 13 KOs) will face professional opponent Hector Munoz (22-12-1, 14 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder on the Keith Thurman-Julio Diaz undercard. Thurman-Diaz headlines a Showtime tripleheader (9:30 p.m. ET/PT) while Charlo’s bout will be part of the Showtime Extreme coverage of the preliminary bouts (7 p.m. ET/PT).

“Ever since my world title fight fell through, it’s been back to square one for me. But that’s part of boxing, and I’m learning from it,” said Charlo, 23, of Houston. “I’m still young, and this is part of my job. As bad as I wanted it, and then it came and went, I know I’m gonna get my world title shot sooner or later. They can’t keep dodging me forever.

“I’ve been training, and I’m just excited to be fighting again. I’m hungrier than ever, feel I’m at the top of my game. I set a goal to be a world champion, and that is still my goal. But I am starting all over again."

Also on the Showtime Extreme portion of the card, junior welterweight prospect Antonio Orozco (19-0, 15 KOs) takes on former featherweight and junior lightweight title challenger Martin Honorio (32-8-1, 16 KOs), who is well past his prime, has lost two fights in a row and has not fought since July 2012.

Time permitting, 2012 Brazilian Olympic bronze medalist Yamaguchi Falcao will get airtime in his four-round middleweight bout against pro debuting Carlos Badaldua. Falcao will be in his second pro fight. He turned pro in Brazil on Jan. 25, and he and his opponent were disqualified for repeated fouls in the third round, going down as a no contest.

Among the other undercard bouts will be two 2012 U.S. Olympians in eight-rounders, junior featherweight Joseph Diaz (9-0, 7 KOs) and junior middleweight Terrell Gausha (8-0, 5 KOs).

Diaz faces long-faded former title challenger Luis Maldonado (36-12-1, 27 KOs), and Gausha faces Charles Whittaker (40-14-2, 24 KOs).

Also on the card, lightweight Sharif Bogere (23-1, 15 KOs) fights for the first time in 13 months since losing a decision in a world title bout to Richar Abril.

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