Canelo Alvarez is the favorite to defeat Erislandy Lara in the main event of a pay-per-view card being billed as "Honor and Glory." The two will meet on Saturday, July 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
As of Friday, Alvarez's odds to win were listed as -175 by Odds Shark.
Most acknowledge that Lara is a more skilled boxer, but his struggles against the plodding and slow Alfredo Angulo could be diminishing the confidence oddsmakers have in him on Saturday.
Though Lara stopped Angulo in the 10th round due to a grotesque eye injury, the Cuban was floored twice in the fight. Alvarez is quicker and arguably just as hard of a puncher as Angulo.
One has to wonder whether Lara will be able to withstand Alvarez's assault. Canelo stopped Angulo in a much more lopsided affair in March.
The Ring magazine polled a group of 28 boxing enthusiasts made up of writers, trainers and super fans, and 23 of the 28 predicted Alvarez would win.
One of the writers polled was Matt Richardson of Fight News. Richardson said:
I like Canelo Alvarez in this one. It won’t be easy, and he’ll probably get outboxed and out-worked in stretches of the fight.
But sooner or later, he will start connecting, and once that happens, he will hurt Erislandy Lara.
If Alfredo Angulo can hurt Lara, I think Alvarez can, too. I think Alvarez will pull out a close-but-deserved decision, probably as a result of a knockdown or two.
Most predict Lara will go the distance, but four see Alvarez winning by stoppage. This is also what I predicted in my preview.
All of the stoppage predictions suggest the definitive moment will occur late in the fight. Keith Idec of The Record and Boxing Scene says:
Eventually, though, a persistent Alvarez’s strength will become the foremost factor in a fight against an opponent whose chin hasn’t always been reliable. Lara is more than willing to trade, and that’ll cost him in this fight.
Idec predicts a 10th-round stoppage win for Alvarez.
Of the five who believe Lara will win on Saturday night, not one believes he will score a stoppage victory. Lara's best chance to win is to use his speed, elusiveness and slick boxing style to befuddle Alvarez, much like Floyd Mayweather did.
Kenny Porter, the father and trainer of IBF welterweight champion Shawn Porter likes Lara over Alvarez, citing the Cuban's extensive amateur background as a factor:
I know that Erislandy Lara has the more extensive background. As an amateur, he has a much better foundation coming through the Cuban program, and he’s fought much better professional fighters than Canelo Alvarez.
I really think that the relative foundation that the two guys have by comparison is like night and day. I don’t think that Canelo has the foundation that Lara has or that type of grooming. We saw what happened to canelo when he fought Floyd Mayweather Jr., he looked like a sparring partner.
Even Lara pointed to his exploits as an amateur during the final press conference before Saturday's bout. Per Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, Lara said: "The Cuban style is the best style in boxing. Everybody knows that we win the most medals at the Olympics, at international tournaments. And that's shown throughout our history."
Amateur backgrounds are certainly helpful, just look at what the experience has done for fellow Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux and Vasyl Lomachenko. Both men have amazing records as amateurs and are currently world champions.
That said, Alvarez is a special talent, and in this situation, the amateur pedigree may not be the prevailing factor.
All will be settled on Saturday when the talk is over and the punches begin to fly.
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