Boxing / Sports

Will he conduct working class?

LAS VEGAS -- In Guadalajara, Mexico, this week, a fruit-stand grocer reluctantly gave up his post behind the counter so he could spend Saturday evening watching his son work.

"That's the discipline -- how he does his job is how I do my job," boxer Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, the youngest of eight children, said of his father, Santos. "It's why I work all the time. I don't go anywhere, don't go out, don't do anything dangerous. I'm just here training, no compromises until the fight is done."

It helps explain how a 23-year-old has already participated in the richest boxing event of all time, owned a world title and commands worldwide attention as one of the top three draws in boxing.

"That's why I'm here supporting him 100 percent," Santos Alvarez said Friday. "I taught all my sons about hard work. That is why he's reached this level he's at."

Saul Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 knockouts) returns to the ring Saturday night at MGM Grand to fight former Cuban amateur champion Erislandy Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) in a light-middleweight bout on Showtime pay-per-view.

"I love what I do, the process to get to a fight -- the training, the camp, boxing 24/7," Alvarez said. "It's easy, because I know what I want and know where I'm going."

Lara, a 2-1 underdog at Nevada sports books, represents a stark contrast to the straight-ahead brawling style Alvarez conquered in March when he stopped Mexico's Alfredo Angulo in the 10th round.

Lara got off the canvas twice in a 2013 meeting with Angulo to beat him by 10th-round TKO, then later dominated former 154-pound champion Austin Trout far easier than Alvarez did 15 months ago.

Taking the Lara test is an example of how Alvarez was raised not to take the easy way out. He was dominated by master boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. in last year's financial bonanza. Now, he is taking on another elusive foe -- in a match seen by some experts as foolish.

Lara has called Alvarez overrated, but Alvarez views beating the Cuban as a way to earn a Mayweather rematch next year.

"Lara is the most dangerous fighter at 154 pounds, moves very well and has good, tight defense," Alvarez said. "We're prepared to break down that style."

Alvarez turned pro at 15 after getting the best of his oldest boxing brother, Victor, in a sparring session, and said his focus sharpened six years ago when his daughter, Emily Cinnamon Alvarez, was born and he realized the expenses of diapers, food and other household items.

As victories piled up, Alvarez found some inspiration in material things, such as the two Lamborghinis he keeps in the garage of his $6-million Del Mar home.

Alvarez will be 24 next week and envisions fighting for at least another decade. "Now that I'm here," he said, "I want to make history, to be recognized as one of the greatest fighters ever."

Santos Alvarez said he'd be "bored" without his stores to operate. Saul, asked his level of admiration for his father's commitment, replied, "Mucho."

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

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