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About an hour after former junior middleweight titlist Canelo Alvarez stopped Alfredo Angulo in the 10th round on March 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Erislandy Lara showed up at the postfight news conference and called on Alvarez, one of the division's cash cows, to fight him next.
Lara's frustration over not being able to land the March fight was understandable since he had knocked out Angulo in his previous bout, yet it was Angulo who got the shot to face the Mexican superstar.
But now it could be Lara's chance.
Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer, who promotes Alvarez and titleholder Lara, told ESPN.com on Monday night that he is in the midst of negotiating the fight and hopes to wrap up the deal shortly. Whomever Alvarez faces, Schaefer said he has locked in the date (July 12) and the site (the MGM Grand) for the Showtime PPV bout.
"When I met with Canelo last week, we discussed the date, the site and different opponents, and two of those have been resolved," Schaefer said. "Canelo feels very comfortable fighting at the MGM. So we have the date and venue locked in and then we had to look at opponents.
"Canelo made it clear that his first choice is Lara because a lot of people, fans and media, feel he would be afraid of fighting somebody with the skills of Erislandy Lara, the same way people thought he wouldn't fight Austin Trout. And you saw what happened."
Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs), 23, outpointed Trout last April to unify junior middleweight titles, which he then lost in September to pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a one-sided decision in the richest fight in boxing history.
Schaefer said that Alvarez-Lara would be contracted at the junior middleweight limit of 154 pounds, but that Alvarez does not want to fight for Lara's world title. Lara was recently elevated from an interim titlist to a full titlist, although Mayweather holds two of the major belts in the division while Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs), a 30-year-old Cuban defector living in Houston, owns a secondary version.
"Canelo thinks Floyd is the champion. Floyd beat Canelo and Canelo thinks Floyd is the champion, so how can Lara be a champion," Schaefer said. "So Canelo doesn't want it for a title so it won't be a title fight, but if Lara wants to defend the title he can pay the sanction fees. But Canelo said he doesn't want to fight for the title."
Originally, the date being planned for Alvarez's next fight was July 26, but Schaefer said the MGM agreed to move a July 12 concert in order to free the arena for Alvarez's fight. There is a lot of jockeying going on for the summer pay-per-view dates and Schaefer wants to go before the other major fight of the summer, a probable July 19 HBO fight between super middleweight star Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin.
"A lot of people feel Lara is the best at 154 pounds after Floyd," Schaefer said. "Canelo said, 'That's the guy I want.' I presented other names to him. He didn't say yes and he didn't say no. But he kept saying, 'Get me Lara. That's what my fans want to see.' So I have begun negotiations with Team Lara. I've been working on it with [Lara adviser] Al [Haymon] and we have made an offer. We are going back and forth and my hope would be the negotiation could be concluded swiftly. We're a little bit apart but if everyone will give a little bit we can get this done.
"I think it's a very interesting fight. Lara is very skilled fighter. So is Trout and you saw how Canelo did with Trout, but Lara is a bit better than Trout."
Schaefer said he wants to get the fight wrapped up to allow ample time to plan and execute a media tour to promote the fight.
"Canelo would like to do a media tour," he said. "When you have more time to promote, you can do a bigger tour. He liked the media tour we did with Mayweather and the big crowds. He loves to embrace his fans and mingle with his fans and so he definitely would like to do a big press tour."
Lara has a title defense scheduled against former titleholder Ishe Smith (25-6, 11 KOs) on May 2 in Las Vegas. Schaefer said part of the negotiation he is having with Haymon to make Alvarez-Lara is what to do about Lara-Smith.
Most likely, Lara would pull out of the Smith fight, rather than risk losing or getting injured and also not leaving enough time to mount a serious promotion for the pay-per-view fight.
"We are talking about what we want to do," Schaefer said. "Would we pull him out to have him ready for the promotion? That's part of the negotiations and discussions. I can't tell you what's going to happen because I don't have it done. But if you want to put together a major pay-per-view, the dates are a bit too close."