The stakes are high for Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
For the fighter, the reason is simple enough—his opponent Erislandy Lara is a crafty southpaw who may just be the best fighter at 154 pounds not named Floyd Mayweather. The two will attempt to bludgeon each other silly in front of millions. Those stakes speak for themselves.
For the promoter, things are a little more complex. The great Golden Boy divorce is now over—Richard Schaefer has left the fold, along with superstar Floyd Mayweather. The "Golden Boy" himself, Oscar De La Hoya, is left diminished but truly in charge of his own destiny for the first time in years.
While Schaefer and De La Hoya have gone their separate ways and the petty sniping has ceased, the repercussions will be felt for years. When the smoke clears on the battlefield, it's likely that boxing's longstanding battle between Golden Boy and Bob Arum's Top Rank will be a war that suddenly has three fronts—no one thinks Schaefer and Mayweather adviser Al Haymon are done playing boxing's version of Game of Thrones.
That makes Canelo's continued success paramount for De La Hoya and Golden Boy. He's the remaining king on their chess board and the only fighter under their banner capable right now of headlining a pay-per-view.
Failure against Mayweather was one thing. Failure against the tough but unknown Lara would be something else entirely.
As funny as this is to say about a fighter with 45 professional contests and a bout with Mayweather under his belt, this may be the most important fight of Canelo's young career. A win establishes him more firmly as a pay-per-view attraction in his own right. A loss may send him scurrying back to Showtime.
Can Canelo get the job done? Or will Lara frustrate him as he has everyone else? Our boxing experts discuss.
Disagree with our analysis? Let us hear it in the comments.