Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara take boxing's center stage on Saturday, July 12.
As fight cards go, the lineup scheduled at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is good but not great. The main event is absolutely one of the must-see fights of the year, but the rest of the card looks so-so on paper.
That said, there's still the chance that one or more fights on the undercard are entertaining affairs.
Here's a look at the vitals for the Showtime pay-per-view event as well as predictions for the card.
|Canelo vs. Lara Card and Predictions|
|Saturday, July 12||9 p.m. ET||Showtime PPV|
|Johan Perez vs. Mauricio Herrera||Light Welterweight||Herrera by decision|
|Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Francisco Vargas||Super Featherweight||Vargas by TKO|
|Abner Mares vs. Jonathan Oquendo||Featherweight||Mares by TKO|
|Canelo Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara||Light Middleweight||Alvarez by TKO|
|Card per Golden Boy, picks by Brian Mazique|
Why Herrera Beats Perez
Coming off a controversial loss to Danny Garcia, Mauricio Herrera has a chance to validate his strong performance in his last outing by beating Johan Perez.
He'll take advantage of the opportunity. Herrera talked to Showtime's Steve Farhood about the upcoming bout with Perez:
Despite a 3.5-inch height disadvantage for Perez, Herrera's boxing skills and hand speed will give Perez a problem. Perez is tall, but he has short arms and has various holes in his defense. Despite his 5'11" height, he prefers to fight inside, which negates his length advantage.
Herrera is the tougher and more skilled boxer, and he'll pull off a unanimous-decision victory.
Why Vargas Beats Lopez
Juan Manuel Lopez was once at or near the top of the heap when it came to featherweights. However, two crushing and exposing losses to Orlando Salido derailed him. Another stoppage loss at the hands of Mikey Garcia had JuanMa looking like a fighter who should be considering retirement.
He did rebound with an exciting second-round TKO win over tough veteran and perennial contender Daniel Ponce de Leon in March. That win set up the opportunity to take on the up-and-coming Francisco Vargas.
JuanMa is going to run into another young, talented Mexican fighter he simply can't solve.
Garcia is one of the top 10 fighters in the world, and Vargas has the tools to climb in a similar matter. He has good punching power in both hands, and JuanMa's chin has become suspect.
The 31-year-old has all the heart in the world. He had to get off the canvas to stop Ponce de Leon, but he still hasn't fixed the holes in his defense.
Because of that, Vargas stops him in the sixth round.
Why Mares Beats Oquendo
Hiring Virgil Hunter as trainer was perhaps the smartest thing Abner Mares could have done in his career. After being stopped by Jhonny Gonzalez in August 2013, the 28-year-old, three-time world champion needed to make some changes.
Hunter is the trainer for Andre Ward, Amir Khan and others. He's great at improving his fighters' defense and mental approach in the ring.
As Mares has gotten older and ascended up to the featherweight division, the 5'4.5" Mexican warrior is finding he can't out-muscle and brawl with top fighters in the weight class. He needs to employ a few more pure boxing skills.
Taking on a smaller opponent like Jonathan Oquendo in his first fight under Hunter is a good look. It takes a while for a fighter to fully convert to a new style, and it's better that Mares be in the ring with a smaller fighter first.
Oquendo has some power and pretty good hand speed, but his defense is suspect at times, and he's looked a bit chinny as well. Mares will be looking to catch and shoot against the 30-year-old Puerto Rican. Those counterpunching skills and increased movement will lead to a stoppage win for Mares.
Why Canelo Beats Lara
This is in no way an easy prediction to make.
Lara is the superior boxer, but there is legitimate doubt as to whether he can win a decision. Alvarez is Golden Boy's golden fighter, and Austin Trout—a former opponent of both men—thinks Lara is fighting an uphill battle against the judges.
He told Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News: "I feel that Lara will out box him, but Canelo will take it. I don't see Lara getting a decision unless he puts (Alvarez) down and I don't think he can do that."
Because of this dynamic and Lara's perception as a boring fighter, he will push to make the fight more exciting and possibly attempt to stop Alvarez.
That approach is playing into Alvarez's hands. The 23-year-old from Tlajomulco de Zuniga, Jalisco, Mexico, is the naturally stronger man and bigger puncher. If Lara stays in the pocket too long, Canelo will make him pay.
Considering Lara couldn't escape a slow, plodding Alfredo Angulo without being dropped twice in June 2013, it seems unlikely he'll be able to evade the punishment from Canelo.
Thus, Alvarez will win by ninth-round TKO.
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