Canelo vs. Lara: Canelo deserves credit for taking a risk that many stars won't take

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Canelo Alvarez should receive praise for stepping up to the plate and facing Erislandy Lara.

Red hair, freckles, fast hands, and a strong Mexican audience. That's enough to make a man a millionaire in the boxing world. Forget merit. Like Megan Fox, if you can look good doing it, who cares if you're doing it good?

When Canelo Alvarez came on to the boxing scene a few years back, I thought he was going to be one of those dime-a-dozen type guys who we see enter the sport because they have a certain look and can attract a valued demographic. In Canelo's case, being a talented, handsome Mexican, he had the coveted Mexican and Mexican-American audience in his hip pocket. He was even red headed to boot, fooling an Irishman or two along the way into thinking that one of their own had risen to the promise land of the cruelest sport on the planet. Canelo had the look, and he didn't need to risk a thing.

But a funny thing happened. A guy who could fill an arena by fighting literally just about anyone decided that he wanted to be a real fighter. In a year's time, the freckle-faced boy has faced Austin Trout, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Alfredo Angulo. Up next? A guy who is widely regarded as the top junior middleweight in the world: Erislandy Lara.

Is it just me, or is this fight not getting the press it deserves? It won't be the Fight of the Year or anything like that, but it's a battle that pits the top two junior middleweights in the world against one another. You've got a legitimate big-time star in Canelo taking on a Cuban southpaw who is the king of the great-boxer-no-one-popular-has-the-guts-to-face crowd (at least on this side of the Pacific).

When did Canelo become incensed that he face one stud after another? Anyone could understand the Mayweather fight; that was a colossal payday and a chance to topple the best boxer in the world. But Lara? Canelo could step in the ring with Angulo for a totally unnecessary rematch and it would get about as much mainstream attention as a bout with Lara would get.

In a time when we often chastise fighters for taking the low road and only making the fights that will maximize profits while minimizing risk, Canelo is doing something different. Golden Boy wasn't about to put a gun to his head in order to make him step in the ring with Lara. In fact, they probably begged him not to do it.

But somewhere along the way, the freckle-faced, redheaded boy decided that he wanted to be the best junior middleweight in the world. Beating the likes of Alfonso Gomez and Kermit Cintron wouldn't prove it. Getting in there with Erislandy Lara, Floyd Mayweather, and Austin Trout? Canelo is proving to us that he is more than just an ugly face.

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