Fight Pick & Preview – Canelo vs. Lara:
On July 12, two of the top 154-pounders in the world tangle in a highly-anticipated encounter, as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez takes on Erislandy Lara in a 12-rounder. This bout features an interesting contrast in styles, and as the fight approaches, each fighter is receiving support, with much of the boxing public split on who they think will win.
- Date: July 12, 2014
- Site: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Weight Class: Junior Middleweights: 12 Rounds
Saul Alvarez, 43-1-1 (31 KOs)
Erislandy Lara, 19-1-2 (12 KOs)
Canelo vs. Lara Fight Analysis
Rarely do you see a fight that has such a clear contrast between the “smart” and the “square” money, to put it into wagering terms. The smart money comes from bettors who can see through the hype and are able to find supreme value in fighters with more subtle skills. That would be Lara. The square bets are made by those who fall headlong into the hype, favoring what jumps off the screen more at them. That would be Canelo. This seems to be the prevailing perception of this bout.
The thought on the part of many is that Lara will use his extravagant set of skills to thwart the more straightforward Alvarez. They think that while Alvarez has exponentially more exposure and public appeal, it is actually Lara who is the better fighter. It’s just that Lara’s skills are the type that tend to get neglected more by the mainstream–defense, skill, craft, and nuance all wrapped up in a southpaw package that was battle-tempered by the difficult Cuban amateur system.
I’m not sure I agree with this premise. While Lara is a supremely-talented boxer with a difficult style, I don’t see him as some super-advanced practitioner of pugilism, with Alvarez being cast as his simplistic foil. Other than Mayweather, this will be Alvarez’ most difficult opponent. Canelo will be seeing things he hasn’t yet experienced, namely a sizzling southpaw left cross. Alvarez has been in the ring with some capable lefties, but no one of Lara’s caliber.
I’m just curious why Lara is being given such reverence, as if he’s Pernell Whitaker, especially when he seems to have the uncanny ability to minimize his own ability. The Paul Williams fight should have gone his way, but he did foolishly coast his way to the finish. The Carlos Molina and Vanes Martirosyan draws were also fights where there was a palpable sense that Lara could create separation, but he failed to do so. Just as being open for a left hook is a weakness, so is the inability of a fighter to allow the full scope of his abilities to materialize on a consistent basis.
If Lara were such an elaborate boxing talent, why did he get dumped on his fanny twice and need 9-10 rounds before he was able to nose ahead of Alfredo Angulo? Not that Angulo is an easy night’s work, but wouldn’t a master scientist in his prime be able to thwart the uncomplicated advances of the slow and ponderous “Perro?”
So now all of a sudden it’s the peerless southpaw against the heavily-hyped matinee idol with the typical Mexican style? I’m just not buying it. Lara has shown he can be reached, hurt, and dropped. And it hasn’t taken fighters with all that advanced of an approach to do it, either. While there is a downside in comparing common opponents, the fact that Alvarez lopsidedly dissected the same Angulo that Lara labored with says something to me.
Despite it being ridiculously scored a majority decision, Alvarez was thoroughly schooled by Mayweather. We forget the kid is not even 24 years old, a time where losses can be converted into valuable learning experiences. Against Angulo, Canelo seemed to be working on some new wrinkles. Sure, he had a cooperative opponent, but his control of distance looked better and his performance had a more clever vibe to it.
The sentiment behind the optimism of Lara is well-placed. It is good to look behind the hype. Every year, there are multiple instances where things like greater widespread appeal, hype, and exposure for one fighter blind people from the overlooked skills of the opponent. The flip-side of this perspective is that sometimes you can create a picture in your mind that is even further removed from reality than the image that was created by hype. After all, the more heavily exposed fighter sometimes is in fact the better fighter.
With that being said, Alvarez is looking at a difficult evening of work with the former Cuban amateur standout. As Mayweather and others have shown, Canelo can be hit. He seemed more defensively responsible against Angulo, but he’s not what you would call a cutie in the ring. And with Lara’s southpaw left-hand whack, Alvarez will be seeing a power left hand that is coming from angles he has ever seen.
The same goes for other assets in Lara’ repertoire. In other words, Canelo has never beaten a fighter like this–both in terms of style and overall caliber. Those favoring Lara are far from baseless in their estimations.
In addition, any apathy Lara has previously shown in the ring figures to dissipate in light of the enormity of this event and the star-power of his opponent. One should expect a focused and complete effort from Lara. But let that not distract us from the heightened mental state of Canelo as he enters this bout. A win is a justification and confirmation of his elite status, while that billing would difficult to substantiate in light of a loss.
Canelo vs. Lara Prediction
I look for a laser-focused Alvarez who is eager to completely eliminate whatever stench remains from the Mayweather disappointment. People may be surprised how nimble Alvarez will look in this fight.
Look for the Alvarez right hand to be thrown with good timing, meeting Lara head-on in exchanges. Alvarez will find this fight difficult and is probably going to eat a ton of leather, but after 8-9 rounds, he will take over as a tiring Lara falls more and more into his wheelhouse.
After a few knockdowns in the 10th, the ref will give Lara the hook.
Prediction: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez wins by 10th-round TKO.