LAS VEGAS -- Three thoughts on Canelo Alvarez’s split decision win over Erislandy Lara.
A big win for Alvarez
Nobody at Golden Boy Promotions -- nobody -- wanted Alvarez to take this fight. Lara is talented, should be undefeated (he was robbed in a loss to Paul Williams in 2011) and is arguably the best pure 154-pounder in boxing. But he is a slick boxer with no fan base who does nothing to sell a pay-per-view.
Alvarez is the fastest rising star in boxing, as well as the tentpole holding Golden Boy up. From Oscar De La Hoya on down, no one wanted Canelo to take this risk.
Said De La Hoya, “This was not my first option, that’s for sure.”
As the fight unfolded, you could see why. Lara spent most of the fight on the run, hitting and moving, refusing to engage.
“This is why nobody wants to fight Lara,” said De La Hoya.
Lara was effective at times, most notably in the ninth and tenth, when he looked to be picking up steam. But Alvarez was committed to a blend of body attacks and power punches. He stalked Lara around the ring, opening up a cut (or cuts) around Lara’s right eye.
According to CompuBox, Lara landed 28 percent of his punches (107 of 386) while Canelo landed 23 percent (97 out of 415). Canelo landed just nine jabs to Lara’s 55, while connecting on 88 power punches to Lara’s 55.
The fight felt as close as the numbers indicated. SI.com scored it 114-114, a draw. Judge Dave Moretti gave it to Alvarez, 115-113; Jerry Roth judged it for Lara, 115-113. And in the widest score, Levi Martinez scored it for Canelo, 117-111.
Afterwards, Lara’s team was incensed. Co-manager Luis Decubas stormed around the ring and trainer Ronnie Shields barked in the direction of Canelo’s corner.
“I think 100 percent I won the fight,” Lara said. “I was totally in control and it didn’t seem like he was doing anything. I made him look bad in front of all of his people.”
MANNIX: Erislandy Lara's tireless journey from Cuba to boxing's grand stage
De La Hoya, however, saw a clear Alvarez win. Said De La Hoya, “Canelo absolutely won the fight. I didn’t think it was that close.”
Canelo proves a point
This was not Canelo’s finest fight. Lara’s experience and technical skill was a major advantage, and Alvarez’s inability to cut off the ring allowed Lara to keep the fight at his pace. But Canelo dug to the body when he needed to, let his hands go when he had to and was aggressive in the final round when he knew he needed to be.
There is a reason Alvarez, days before his 24th birthday, is so widely respected. He doesn’t duck anyone and he finds ways to win.
Lara wants a rematch, though Canelo has little reason to give him one.
“When he learns how to fight,” Canelo said, “I’ll give him a rematch.”
Like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, Alvarez is in a position to handpick any opponent. De La Hoya said Alvarez will return to the ring in November. A showdown with Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto would be a huge fight, though there is a growing sense that fight won’t happen until next year.
De La Hoya mentioned junior middleweight puncher James Kirkland as a possible opponent. And in something of a surprise, De La Hoya dropped the name of Gennady Golovkin, the middleweight kingpin.
“Golovkin is a dangerous fighter,” De La Hoya said. “That’s what Canelo is all about.”