Canelo Alvarez won a close split-decision victory over Erislandy Lara. | Photo: Tom Hogan/Golden Boy Promotions
LAS VEGAS -- It goes without saying that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is a huge star in boxing, and his fight with Erislandy Lara was hyped as being a “fight of the year” candidate.
Both junior middleweights promised fireworks and a knockout, but when it was all said and done, what the world got was a solid, competitive fight with some controversy.
Alvarez was far more aggressive inside the ring -- as expected -- but he had considerable trouble cutting off the movement of his Cuban adversary throughout the contest. Lara established his southpaw jab immediately into the fight, preventing the Mexican superstar from getting into any sort of rhythm early on. Lara peppered him with the jab and slick counter left hands when Canelo opened up, but they were single shots for the most part, and they did little damage to the sturdy whiskers of the Guadalajara fighter.
As the rounds wore on, Alvarez started to figure out his opponent’s attacks and began pouring on the pressure, most notably the assault to the body. Canelo dug dozens of thunderous hooks to the ribs and liver, which inevitably opened up opportunities upstairs. Still, Lara moved well and picked Alvarez apart when he got on the offensive. With that said, Lara was too content on moving away from his foe for the majority of every round and not making Canelo pay when he’d miss many of his shots.
“I came here to fight, to box tonight,” a happy but frustrated Canelo said afterward. “I didn’t come here to run. All (Lara) did was run the whole time.”
Canelo was able to pin down the elusive Lara enough to open up a cut above the right eye from a perfect left uppercut on the inside and his relentless pressure was more than enough to win the extremely close rounds where few clean punches landed. However, since neither man was ever in any real danger of being knocked down or out, virtually every round could have gone either way.
Canelo (44-1-1, 31 KOs) did just enough to earn the decision on two judges’ scorecards: Dave Moretti had it 115-113 and Levi Martinez saw it 117-111. However their scores differed from that of Jerry Roth, who scored it 115-113 for Lara.
“I know there are a lot of Mexicans here in attendance,” a dejected Lara said in the ring. “But I won the fight. Everybody knows I won the fight.”
Many ringside observers felt that Alvarez did enough to eke out the decision, though all agreed that it was extremely close. There was talk of an immediate rematch as both fighters were leaving the ring, but mostly from Lara’s camp.
“I want a rematch,” demanded Lara (19-2-2, 12 KOs). “I know I won and when I fight him again, I’ll beat him again. It won’t go [the distance] next time.”
Canelo wasn’t overly keen on the idea of a rematch, opting instead to target Miguel Cotto. But, he said, if his fans want him to fight Lara again, he’ll do what they want.