The war of words and pre-fight hype are in the books, the fighters have made weight, and the time for predictions is running out. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Erislandy Lara will finally meet in the ring on Saturday, July 12, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The bout won't be for a title. The agreed-upon 155-pound catchweight disqualifies the fight from being for Lara's WBA light middleweight title.
The lack of championship stakes doesn't mean this isn't a big fight, though. A win for Lara would be the biggest of his career, while a win for Canelo would launch him further into stardom. Here's the tale of the tape between the two with weights now made official:
|155 lbs||Weight||155 lbs|
Statistics via BoxRec.com; Odds via Odds Shark
Odds via Odds Shark.
Obviously, Canelo Alvarez is the biggest name involved in this bout. His loss to Floyd Mayweather propelled him into the public consciousness and makes him a highly marketable star going forward. But to assume this is a mere tune-up bout before the Mexican star goes on to bigger and better things would sell Erislandy Lara short as an opponent.
In Lara, Alvarez is taking on a crafty southpaw with plenty of experience. Even though he's only had 22 professional fights, Lara's extensive amateur career more than makes up for any perceived deficiencies in the area.
But what might make Lara the most dangerous is his approach to the fight. As the underdog, he can go into the bout with nothing to lose, and as this quote provided by Showtime Sports illustrates, he isn't going to be intimidated by Canelo's reputation:
In looking at Lara's chances of upsetting Canelo, two things stand out. First, the combination of Lara's excellent boxing skills and slight reach advantage gives him a path to victory that is clearly attainable. If he is able to stand on the outside and methodically pick at Alvarez, he could carry the day with his jab.
Second, he poses the age-old challenge of taking on a southpaw. Outside of the Mayweather fight, the only other time we've seen Canelo struggle was against a smooth southpaw in Austin Trout.
For comparison, Lara defeated Trout by unanimous decision his last time out.
Lara's advantages aside, there is a reason why Alvarez is the favorite here. The hard-charging 23-year-old still has incredible power, as evidenced by his 10th-round TKO of Alfredo Angulo in his first fight after the Mayweather loss.
If Lara isn't completely focused on making Alvarez chase him while peppering him with the jab, he's going to get into trouble—quickly.
At 155 pounds, the lack of speed that hurt Canelo against Mayweather isn't nearly as big of an issue. If Canelo can remain the most aggressive fighter, he's going to come through as the favorite. In fact, FightNights.com brought up Lara's lack of aggression as a reason why Alvarez could end the night early:
Canelo drops Lara with that left hook tomorrow. Lara is to easy to back up onto the ropes. Plus, Lara doesn't throw enough punches.— FightNights.com™ (@boxing) July 11, 2014
While it's tough to look at the stylistic challenges that Lara brings to the table and conclude that Alvarez will finish him, it is likely he comes out as the winner.
It's not going to be easy. Lara will win his fair share of rounds and could easily upset the apple cart by keeping a good pace throughout the night. But it's hard to believe that Lara is going to be able to do that without taking considerable damage from Canelo.
This will be the toughest victory of Alvarez's young career, but he will get the job done.
Alvarez by unanimous decision