A figure like Saul Alvarez is good for boxing because it unifies the most loyal and numerous fan base in boxing today. Mexican fans are a dream; they are faithful to their dear, hostile to the opposition and willing to spend their hard earned money on their favorite boxer. The industry depends on them as the greatest marketing force and the „macho” element in their culture makes them the perfect target group for boxing entertainment.
There has been no shortage of Mexican talent in the lighter divisions but boxing has seen better days. Canelo is what the fans depend on today and he could only hope he lives up to their expectations. Some day he might but he didn’t against Erislandy Lara. Alvarez was thoroughly outclassed by the Cuban ex-amateur standout and he should have lost that fight by at least a 6 point margin.
Lara not only out boxed and outclassed the brave and game Canelo, he outsmarted and embarrassed him. I expected the Mexican to use his size advantage better in the first half of the bout but Lara would not let him. The range play and distance awareness Lara brought (Canelo called this running) kept Alvarez constantly out of range and out of position while the Cuban was able to land practically at will. Lara would easily land two out of three shots in a combo and he landed all three more than once. His range was outside Canelo’s reach and Canelo’s attempts at swarming/cutting down space were ineffective. He hardly landed a clean head shot on Lara and the body shots usually hit Lara’s guard unless they were on the back/kidneys. The Cuban made Alvarez pay for most of his misses and appeared to enjoy himself while he made a fool out his opponent and basically did what he wanted. Alvarez had spurts of reckless activity now and then but he did Lara a favor by jumping forward and trying to be fast with his hands.
Timing was the name of the game and Lara clearly defined for Canelo the difference between boxing and brawling. The fight was a case of an accomplished boxer having his way with an optimistic brawler. Lara lacks stopping power and is a little fragile for my liking but he did his job outstandingly against Alvarez. The Cuban school trade mark footwork – moving on toes, planting the feet with shots and then back on the toes again – has been lost on Lara as he refused to plant his feet and trade mobility for leverage even for a second. Nevertheless he punished and disfigured Canelo’s face while the most damage Alvarez did to his opponent was due a head butt.
The fight wasn’t difficult to score, the only problem I had was how to give rounds to Canelo. Perhaps he could have been awarded a couple of rounds for variety and effort but I had a hard time choosing which three rounds to donate to him. The judges had no such trouble as they turned a good fight into a farce. The sweet science can be bitter at times.