By Jake Donovan
To this day, Erislandy Lara remains bothered by the split decision verdict that landed in favor of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in their July 2014 meeting.
The insistence that he deserved the nod that night played into the storyline for Saturday’s Fox-televised headliner versus Canelo’s older brother Ramon Alvarez, but never to the point of it becoming a vendetta.
“It was a good story, beat the brother of the man who stole a win from me,” Lara (26-3-3, 15KOs) admitted to BoxingScene.com following his 2nd round knockout of the 33-year old Alvarez in Minneapolis, Minn. “But this is just a sport. It’s never personal. It was gamesmanship before the fight, but never any kind of hate.”
As much was evident at Friday’s weigh-in, where Lara had plenty of cause for complaint. Alvarez showed up at a drawn-out but still heavy 158.6 pounds, well over the 154-pound divisional limit.
The site of Alvarez (28-8-2, 16KOs) having to be assisted to the scales was too much to bear for Lara and his team, including manager Luis DeCubas Jr. who gave the weakened foe a bottle of Pedialyte the moment his weight was announced.
The obligatory post weigh-in staredown was brief and ended with an embrace between eventual ring rivals.
“It wasn’t the best situation, him being late to the weigh-in and not making weight,” notes Lara. “But we’re professionals and we’re two men. I just felt like letting him know everything will be alright and that I appreciated the opportunity to still fight for my old title.”
Lara’s win netted him a version of the super welterweight title he claimed in 2013 and defended seven times. His first title reign ended with a 12-round loss to Jarrett Hurd in their firefight of a title unification last April.
From there came a 12-round draw with Argentina’s Brian Castaño, who in turn vacated the title in July after failed plans to secure a rematch with France’s Michel Soro.
The belt was placed at stake for Saturday’s headliner, with Lara becoming a two-tour titlist following the win.
While his fight with the elder Alvarez wasn’t personal, there remains unfinished family business.
“I would love to fight Canelo Alvarez a second time” Lara told BoxingScene.com, pointing out that the reigning World middleweight champion remains without an opponent for a Nov. 2 date in Las Vegas.
The assignment figures to go to Sergey Kovalev, for which Alvarez (52-1-2, 35KOs) will move up to light heavyweight in a bid to become just the third boxer in history—joining Hall of Famers and all-time greats Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns—to win major titles at 154, 160 and 175 pounds.
Should those plans fall through, Lara is game to grab the assignment, whether for his recently reclaimed title or Alvarez’s World middleweight championship.
“Let’s see what happens,” Lara said of the potential short turnaround. “Our managers can talk and do their job to get us back in the ring. It can be at 154 or 160, wherever the best opportunity makes the most sense. I just beat his brother and I would love the chance to beat Canelo... again.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox