If you thought Saul "Canelo" Alvarez would disappear into Las Vegas oblivion after dropping a one-sided—albeit majority—decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. 10 months ago, think again.
Though the 23-year-old Mexican heartthrob was on the consensus short end of nearly every round against the sport's reigning pound-for-pound kingpin, he's already shown signs of regaining the high-profile traction he'd secured prior to last September's disappointment.
That trend continues on Saturday in Las Vegas, where Alvarez, who'll turn 24 six days after the fight, meets Cuban-born Erislandy Lara in a scheduled 12-rounder to be fought at a 155-pound catchweight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Alvarez returned to the good graces of Golden Boy Promotions and Showtime with a 10-round beatdown of rugged gatekeeper Alfredo Angulo in March, setting the stage for a tricky match with the Houston-based southpaw who's lost only once in 22 pro fights.
Lara was 15-0 after erasing Delray Raines in January of 2011, but he's since graduated to the big time while going 4-1-2 across seven fights with much higher-profile opposition.
A draw with future 154-pound title claimant Carlos Molina was the first non-victory in March of 2011 and was followed by a majority 12-round loss to Paul Williams that many observers thought Lara deserved. Second-tier pretenders Ronald Hearns and Freddy Hernandez were dismissed in Lara's next two fights, and a title eliminator against Vanes Martirosyan ended unsatisfyingly in nine rounds after Martirosyan was gashed by an accidental headbutt in November of 2012.
His last two wins, however, have come in reverse order against the exact same foes—Angulo and Austin Trout—as Alvarez's last two wins. Lara was dropped twice but ultimately forced Angulo to retire with a hideous eye injury in their meeting in June of 2013, and he then bedazzled Trout in a way Alvarez never did while pounding out a wide unanimous win on Dec. 7.
His pre-fight swagger has also gotten under the skin of his imminent foe.
"Canelo has a much different mindset going into this fight, his attitude is much better," Alvarez's trainer, Chepo Reynoso, said at a recent media workout. "His pride was hurt because of all of the smack Lara has been talking. He is totally focused on July 12, and wants to punish Lara thoroughly. Canelo looks at Lara as an obnoxious little child that needs to be put into his place."
Date: Saturday, July 12, 2014
Time: Showtime pay-per-view starts at 9 p.m. ET; main event after 11 p.m. ET.
Venue: MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada
Odds: Alvarez (-165), Lara (+135)
Note: Odds provided by VegasInsider.com and correct as of 7/7/2014 at 10 a.m. EDT; subject to change.