Saul “El Canelo” Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara – The Cuban school vs. the Mexican style?

This bout at the MGM Grand tonight is as good as it gets in terms of match-making. Despite the age difference of 8 years in Canelo’s favor both fighters are perceived as up-and-comers and Alvarez has a superstar status with his home crowd. Lara on the other hand is deprived of a loyal home fan base for obvious reasons and will hardly be the draw in the fight.

Saul Alvarez, 43(KO 31)-1-1 has more KOs on his record than Lara, 19(KO 12)-1-2, has fights but Lara brings a wealth of amateur boxing experience and comes across as the boxer of the duo. Erislandy is a typical exponent of the Cuban amateur school and brings most of the assets that have made Cuban boxing such an icon. He does have setbacks however – he does not punch his weight and sacrifices power for precision and timing. Most fans won’t forgive him going down twice against one Alfredo Angulo (I can’t) and his chin/punch resistance credibility will remain spurious for a long time. Otherwise he is brilliant technician who uses all defensive dimensions the way Alcides Sagarra taught him and he has tactical savvy and always seems in good shape. Being a slick rangy southpaw who sticks to long range makes him a very tough customer – he has only one loss against Paul Williams and it is highly controversial.

Saul Alvarez’s style can be described as typically Mexican but it is an upgraded and polished version of the “macho” game. His defense is very reliable and he is basically a clean fighter who brings snap and physical strength in the ring. He is very good but he is not special in any way, his fan base is what makes him so special and attractive. He appears to punch harder than Lara especially at close range but technically he is not in the Cuban’s league. He may enjoy a size advantage that should give him a slight edge in the first half of the fight, the championship rounds belong to Lara if he makes it that far.

To sum it up, Canelo will have the power and size advantage while the Cuban will rely on ring generalship and high alert to bring Alvarez into the deep end and outclass him in rounds 8-12.