Alvarez-Lara: Best against the best

"And me as a promoter and me as an ex-fighter, I look at it in two ways. Here I was as a fighter fighting the very best, just like Canelo's doing, and as a promoter this wasn't my first choice. But you have to go with what the fighter says, with what the fighter feels. And this is what is most admirable of Canelo Alvarez -- that he wants to please the fans. He wants to give the fight fans the most difficult fights out there."

Technically, Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs) and Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) are not fighting at junior middleweight because the maximum contract weight is 155 pounds and, therefore, Lara's belt will not be at stake -- Alvarez didn't want to fight for it. But the reality is that the fight will crown the de facto best junior middleweight in the world.

"Supposedly, they say he's the best at 154 pounds, but I think I'm the best," Lara said through a translator. "I think it's a good thing that the best are fighting the best."

Not only are they considered the best, but they have contrasting styles and a simmering dislike for each other that has added some spice to the promotion.

Alvarez, the Mexican star who turns 24 next Friday, is the more aggressive fighter with a bigger punch. Lara, the 31-year-old former Cuban amateur star who defected and now lives in Houston, is a technically gifted southpaw from Cuba's amateur machine.

"He's a fighter that moves very well. He has very tight defense, but the thing that doesn't move well is his feet, his legs," Alvarez said. "We know his style; he has a very difficult style. But we've prepared to break down that style. We worked for a difficult style, for a southpaw. Without a doubt we had the right sparring partners. It's not an easy fight, but we've prepared for everything."

Lara has said repeatedly that he will take Alvarez to "Cuban boxing school."

"The Cuban style is the best style in boxing," Lara said "Everybody knows that we win the most medals at the Olympics, at international tournaments. And that's shown throughout our history.

"It's a good style matchup because I know Canelo's going to try to press forward and press for action, and that's a style I like. I like guys that come and fight, and I pick them apart, like I've done to several guys coming up. These are the fights I like. I like guys who come to fight and I like to put them in the dirt, and that's what I plan on doing."

Adding intrigue to the match is how they performed against recent common opponents, Trout and Angulo. While Alvarez struggled to victory against Trout and later demolished Angulo, Lara was in a life-and-death fight with Angulo in which he had to survive two knockdowns and then rolled past Trout in his next fight.

And here's a stat to chew on, courtesy of CompuBox: Alvarez connects on 52 percent of his power punches, the highest among tracked fighters. But Lara's opponents land only 20 percent of their punches, third-lowest among tracked fighters. Something's gotta give Saturday.

Then there is the element of their distaste for each other. Besides Alvarez's desire to fight elite opponents, he took the fight because Lara's repeated insults raised his ire.

"Lara has said so many things behind my back and on social media for such a long time now that, yes, this fight is and has become personal," Alvarez said. "He's a good fighter but he talks a lot. He's offended me. I'm going to have an answer for everything he has said. I'm going to shut him up once and for all.

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