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Prizefight Preview: Canelo vs Lara

Photo: Esther Lin / Showtime

Photo: Esther Lin / Showtime

The fight between Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara this Saturday presents a situation that has become a rarity in boxing these days.

No. 1 vs No. 2. The best fighter in the 154-lb division fighting the second best fighter in the division. What a novel concept!

You see, boxing has become a business where top fighters are kept away from each other. An example of this is Danny Garcia. Recognized as the best fighter in the 140-lb division, Garcia is scheduled to fight a 135-lb guy who is ranked No. 77 in that division. That’s why it’s refreshing to see a fighter like Canelo (43-1-1, 31 KO), who is now established as a star, welcome the most dangerous fight out there against Lara (19-1-2, 12 KO.)

Now, let’s break down the fight.

CaneloPrepares4Lara_Hoganphotos5As they head into their showdown, Canelo and Lara share a couple of common opponents in Austin Trout and Alfredo Angulo. The two men both earned victories over these respective opponents, however, the fights played out completely different. While he did knock him down once in the fight, Alvarez had some struggles with Trout in their encounter while Lara handled him with ease. In their fights with Alfredo Angulo, Lara was in deep trouble, getting knocked down twice by the Mexican fighter before pulling the fight out with a stoppage in the 10th. Alvarez obliterated Angulo, winning every round on the scorecard before the referee’s intervention which also came in the 10th round. What does all this mean? Probably nothing, except that this is a 50-50 fight.

Canelo Alvarez possesses a well-rounded combination of speed and power. Where Alvarez has shown vulnerabilities in the past is when the fight goes into the later rounds. Canelo tends to show a rapid decrease in punch output as the rounds go on. However, in his fight with Angulo, Alvarez was able to pace himself throughout the match and put together some spectacular combos in each round.

Following the tradition of slick Cuban boxers, Lara is a superb technician in the ring. Similar to his fellow countryman Guillermo Rigondeaux, Lara’s standout career in the amateurs helped speed up his ascension to the top of this weight class. Stamina is not an issue for Lara, who routinely is able to get into the late rounds with a good amount of energy. The only flaw we’ve seen in Lara’s game is that he can be knocked down, and Alvarez does pack a punch.

What does each fighter have to do to win?

For Canelo to come out victorious, he will need to come out aggressive and be a stalker, similar to the way he did against Angulo. From the start of the first round, Alvarez was blazing with quick, hard combinations that constantly stopped Angulo in his tracks. With Lara being a boxer and not a brawler, it is even more imperative for Canelo to be active. Look for him to try and steal rounds at the end. He can’t afford to get into a chess match like he did in his one-sided loss to Floyd Mayweather last year. Cutting the ring off will also be key. When Angulo was able to do this against Lara, he found himself able to drop the Cuban twice despite his slow hand speed.

BOXERS-WKOT-FANSFor Lara to get the win it’s simple, he needs to fight like he always does. His supreme skills as a boxer give any fighter problems. Lara’s ability to fight on the outside and keep the fight in the middle of the ring will be key. His defense will also need to be sharp, as the pro-Canelo crowd will likely be roaring in approval whenever the Mexican fighter appears to land any sort of flurry, which no doubt influences the judges. Lara will have to make Canelo miss and counter with shots of his own.

At the end of the night, who gets their hand raised?

This fight is as close as it gets. Because of the animosity between the two men being shown in the lead-up to the fight, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a little more brawling than we are used to seeing from Lara. This would probably go in Canelo’s favor, but Lara’s power is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Ultimately, I believe Canelo has learned his lesson about trying to box with a boxer. The fight could come down to whether the judges are scoring in favor of the aggressor who lands harder shots (Canelo) or the slicker boxer who displays better ring IQ (Lara.) With a big-time fight between Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto looming in the future, you would have to think the close rounds will go in favor of the Mexican star.

Prediction: Canelo Alvarez, Majority Decision. I see Alvarez edging out the decision with a knockdown of Lara in the process.

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