In July last year, Canelo Alvarez fought Erislandy Lara to headline the bill at the MGM GRAND in Las Vegas.
The fight was eagerly anticipated in the world of boxing and was very much considered to be a 50/50 match-up.
Canelo, the heavy handed, go forward Mexican fighter known for his toughness and aggressiveness against Lara, a slick, light on his feet southpaw Cuban boxer with speed and evasiveness in abundance.
For me there are two sides to this fight. What Lara did and did not do. In the early rounds Lara controlled the fight beautifully with his quick jab keeping Canelo at bay. Whenever Canelo tried to walk through the jab or come inside, Lara would sting him with his sharp left hand and roll out and away from danger.
Lara is Cuban and as everybody knows, Cuban boxers are aficionados in the science of boxing. They know how to move, how to not get hit, how to use angles and how to use distance. Lara executed this perfectly in the early stages of the fight. What impressed me the most was how easily he befuddled Canelo with his lateral movement. He circled to his left and confused and asked questions of his opponent with simple 1-2 punches which Canelo just could not come up with an answer for.
The fight was looking scarily one-sided for the first five rounds, Lara was exposing Canelo and making him look average in front of a sold out arena.
As slick and as comfortable as he looked, Lara never seemed like he really hurt Canelo nor did he ever look to jump on him and start to back him up.
If you watch the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo, Mayweather makes it a purpose to walk forward and stop Canelo from going at him.
It has been said in the past that Canelo is at his best when he is going forward using his superior strength and size to impose on his opponent.
For me, Lara was far too content boxing on the outside and focusing on landing his 1-2 shots and then circling out of range. It was almost as though he thought he had already won the fight and just needed to stay out of the way until the final bell.
Before the fight there were rumours circulating that Canelo was beginning to struggle making the weight. If that was the case then Lara should have worked the body of Canelo much more often and really tested his stamina.
In many of Canelo’s previous fights, it looked like he was struggling in the later rounds. This fight was different. In this fight it almost seemed like the complete opposite. In rounds six – seven Canelo looked rejuvenated and confident going forward and I feel this is because he was never imposed upon by Lara’s superior hand speed.
Lara started to look rather predictable and Canelo began cutting off the ring more effectively and trapped Lara on the ropes delivering some devastating body shots and uppercuts. This became a recurring theme from rounds eight -eleven.
Canelo won by split decision.
When the final bell rang, it looked like Lara had done just enough in the early rounds to clinch victory and put another loss on Canelo’s record but in my opinion, as wrong or as inhumane as it may seem; Lara had to do double to win this fight. After all, he’s fighting on a Golden Boy show and is facing one of the top three Pay-Per-View stars in the world.
If you were to score the fight at home like any other boxing fan then I’m sure you would get the same as I did. Lara 115 Canelo 113 but Lara did not do anything to really grab the bull by the horns and take control of the fight.
To conclude, Lara boxed, moved and used his ring generalship perfectly, but he had no plan B and simply didn’t make the necessary adjustments when Canelo began to up the tempo.
I really feel for Lara, he doesn’t always get a fair assessment from the judges, first in the Paul Williams fight and now in this fight. He seems to be the only undefeated boxer with two losses on his record.