Carlos Vela was depicted as Indiana Jones in a tifo during his playoff game against the Galaxy, but if you ask LAFC’s lead protagonist, he’s equally comfortable and aspirational being a hero behind the camera.
Major League Soccer’s MVP frontrunner is parlaying his prolific goal-scoring prowess on the pitch into a different role as a producer for LeBron James’ athlete-empowerment brand Uninterrupted.
Although the Mexican soccer star has a propensity for finding the back of the net, the boxing fan is providing James and Co. an assist by serving as an executive producer for a three-part docuseries telling the story of fellow countryman Canelo Alvarez and his quest to becoming a four-division champion when he makes his light heavyweight debut against titlist Sergey Kovalev.
“40 Days: Canelo vs. Kovalev” premiered on global streaming platform DAZN and offers an inside look at training camp as Alvarez prepares for his historic attempt Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Much like Alvarez is challenging himself, so is Vela with a newfound opportunity and project to parlay his shooting skills from the field into the production room, all while experimenting as a player in Hollywood circles.
“It’s the first time I’ve been involved in a project like this. I’m happy to expand into a different market and to be part of such an important series ahead of a huge fight,” Vela said shortly after practice concluded Sunday as he prepared for LAFC’s conference title game against the Seattle Sounders two days later.
“It’s also special because it involves a Mexican-born fighter. I tried to bring a different perspective as an athlete from another sport to the documentary, and hopefully I can help raise awareness to that positively.”
Although Vela has never met Alvarez or James in person — or seen a boxing match in person — he was intrigued by the assignment because it offered him a creative break from the daily rigors of soccer, all while introducing a new side of him to his fan base.
“Uninterrupted approached me to join them in this project,” Vela said. “They wanted me to bring my unique insight as an athlete and to help them, as producers, tell the story about Canelo. We created this docuseries, which I’ve helped distribute to many Mexican fans here in Los Angeles and all over.”
The “40 Days” franchise runs nearly 10 minutes an episode and was designed by DAZN to fill a void that HBO created once the network stopped producing boxing events in 2018, and thus, halted its award-winning programming through the acclaimed reality series “24/7.”
Canelo Alvarez enters the T-Mobile Arena.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
Gennady Golovkin enters the T-Mobile Arena.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
Gennady Golovkin motions to the crowd before his match against Canelo Alvarez.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
Will Smith, left, and Dave Chapelle wait for the start of a middleweight title fight between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin trade punches in the fourth round.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
Canelo Alvarez lands a punch against Gennady Golovkin in the 12th round.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez trade punches in the fifth round.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
Canelo Alvarez poses for a photo with referee Benjy Esteves Jr., right, after defeating Gennady Golovkin by majority decision.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
Canelo Alvarez celebrates after defeating Gennady Golovkin by majority decision.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
For the Alvarez and Kovalev fight, “40 Days” features commentary from Uninterrupted CEO Maverick Carter, DJ Khaled, Draymond Green and comedian Gabriel Iglesias.
“Carlos’ play this season has been groundbreaking and thrilling to watch, but his influence and relevance go far beyond the pitch he plays on,” said Carter. “His love of boxing and understanding of Canelo’s style, culture and fan base made him the ideal creative partner for this project.”
In addition to DAZN, “40 Days” will air on Univision, NBC Sports Network and regional sports networks like MSG, and it marked the second edition of the series produced by Uninterrupted.
Jamie Horowitz, executive vice president of content for DAZN North America, said “40 Days” is at its strongest when it allows celebrity executive producers like Meek Mill, Mark Wahlberg, and separately, Sylvester Stallone, drive stories with different life experiences and worldviews.
“That theme continues in this installment with Carlos Vela,” Horowitz said. “He, much like Canelo, is a global superstar always searching for the next challenge. This is a topic that resurfaces throughout all three episodes.”
The fútbol franchise cornerstone Vela, who netted an MLS record 34 goals during the regular season for LAFC, and two more to boot in the team’s El Trafico playoff win over the Galaxy last week, said that participating among Hollywood elites was part of the intrigue of becoming the team’s first designated player back in 2017.
“Of course I’d like to be more involved in the entertainment industry,” Vela said. “When the prospect of playing in Los Angeles first presented itself, I knew that there would be a lot of opportunities to become involved with people in this industry who might help me in the future. It’s something that I enjoy, and if I’m comfortable in this medium, maybe there might be other similar projects to explore.”
Once Vela’s soccer career comes to an end, he plans on expanding his work in front and behind the cameras in Hollywood.
“It’s definitely more nerve-wracking being in front of the cameras, although I’m trying to get better at it,” said Vela. “Playing soccer is what I’ve done and known all my life, starting at such a young age with my friends.”
For now, Vela is focused on Tuesday’s showdown against the Sounders, hoping a win on the field will allow for a brief break and getaway to Las Vegas ahead of the MLS Cup so he can watch his muse Alvarez for his first-ever live boxing event.
“More than anything, I’m just very excited and happy to be part of this project with LeBron and his team,” said Vela. “It’s always great to know successful people like Canelo, especially those that make our country proud. I hope it’s a successful docuseries that will in turn give us more opportunities to collaborate.”