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Canelo Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara: Everything You Need to Know About Epic Fight

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2014

Canelo Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara: Everything You Need to Know About Epic Fight

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    Two two junior middleweights tussle on Saturday.
    Two two junior middleweights tussle on Saturday.Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Some fights get made. Even when they probably shouldn’t.

    Such is the case with Saturday’s Showtime pay-per-view bout between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs) and Erislandy Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs).

    Alvarez, the rising junior middleweight star, would be well within his rights as one of the biggest names in the sport to fight anyone in the division.

    After all, working his way back to a megafight against the likes of someone like Miguel Cotto would make sense for a fighter in Alvarez’s shoes, but the oft-avoided Lara is exactly the type of fighter managers and promoters would usually prefer their guy to stay away from.

    But after Lara stormed Alvarez’s post-fight press conference earlier this year to demand the fight, the proud Alvarez just couldn’t help himself. The fight was on whether it made sense or not.

    Alvarez-Lara coming together stands as a testament to both men. It gives weight to those who would suggest Alvarez is the kind of fighter who will be a huge star for years to come. He’s a throwback to a different age, a fighter who cares little for records and trinkets and more about pride and honor.

    The fight also highlights the persistent determination of Lara. Long standing just outside the warm glow of boxing’s warmest and brightest limelight, Lara shouted with his fists as loud as he could so that fans and media might take notice of his considerable skill set. And when that didn’t work, he showed up at a press conference and confronted the fighter who could help make it happen.

    Alvarez-Lara is the wrong kind of fight for anyone who wants boxing to just be a business. But for the rest of us, it’s exactly the right fight at the right time.

    Here’s everything you need to know about it.

The Fighters

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    Will Canelo be all smiles after Saturday?
    Will Canelo be all smiles after Saturday?Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    Alvarez and Lara are two of the best junior middleweights in the world today. Alvarez is ranked No. 2 by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. Lara is ranked No. 1 by the same organization to Floyd Mayweather’s lineal 154-pound championship.

    Alvarez is one of the biggest stars in the sport. The 23-year-old defeated Shane Mosley, Josesito Lopez and Austin Trout on the way to earning a megafight against Mayweather. Despite his young age, he has already participated in 45 professional prizefights.

    But Alvarez wasn’t ready for Mayweather last year. While conventional wisdom indicated the Mexican would need to press forward and make the fight a slugfest, Alvarez inexplicably chose to fight Mayweather from a distance. The result was a majority-decision loss that probably should have been unanimous.

    Alvarez rebounded nicely from his first loss as a professional by destroying hard-nosed slugger Alfredo Angulo in 10 one-sided rounds of a scheduled 12 earlier this year. The resounding win proved Alvarez was still one of the best young fighters in the sport today. 

    Meanwhile, Lara is a dark-horse favorite to become one of the top fighters in the sport. Like Alvarez, the former Cuban national star fought his way past notable contenders Angulo and Trout.

    The southpaw has earned draws against Carlos Molina and Vanes Martirosyan, though in the latter case the fight appeared to be heading Lara’s way when it was stopped in Round 9 because of a cut caused by accidental head-butt.

    Lara lost to Paul Williams in 2011 in one of the worst judged fights in boxing history. The hard-luck Lara did everything right that night but was robbed of the victory because of Williams’ bigger name.

    Lara will be in the same boat against Alvarez, except this time the Cuban will have built a following of his own, mostly consisting of hardcore fight fans who appreciate his precise punching and pristine use of distance.

    Lara will need all of it against Alvarez. With a likely raucous pro-Alvarez crowd on hand at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Lara will need to be precise as ever to earn the win over Alvarez.

The Undercard

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    Mares is back in action.
    Mares is back in action.Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    The Fights Before the Fight

    • Featherweight Abner Mares (26-1-1, 14 KOs) will make his 2014 debut against Jonathan Oquendo (24-3, 16 KOs) in a 10-round bout.
    • Super featherweight Juan Manuel Lopez (34-3, 31 KOs) will take on Francisco Vargas (19-0-1, 13 KOs) in a 10-round bout.
    • Junior welterweight Johan Perez (19-1-1, 13 KOs) will take on Mauricio Herrera (20-4, 7 KOs) in a 12-round matchup.

     

    What to Know

    The undercard of Canelo-Lara features several well-known names looking to get back in the win column.

    Most notably, the card features the return of Abner Mares, who will hope to shake off any lingering cobwebs he still has after suffering a Round 1 knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzalez last year.

    Juan Manuel Lopez always brings it. His offense is plentiful, and his defense is porous. Undefeated slickster Francisco Vargas will hope to outbox Lopez and put him away without catching any big shots in return.

    Junior welterweight Mauricio Herrera should probably be lineal champion right now. He outboxed Danny Garcia earlier this year in Puerto Rico but wasn’t given the nod by the judges. Instead, Herrera gets Perez in a bout scheduled for 12 rounds.

Where to Watch

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    Can Lara make the most of a big opportunity?
    Can Lara make the most of a big opportunity?Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Where: MGM Grand in Las Vegas

    When: Saturday, July 12, at 9 p.m. ET

    TV: Showtime PPV for $59.95 (HD)/$49.95 (SD)

     

    Fight Week Events (All Times Are PT)

    Grand Arrivals (Tuesday, July 8)

    Location: MGM Grand Hotel Lobby

    • 11:00 a.m. - Mauricio Herrera and Johan Perez
    • 11:15 a.m. - Juan Manuel Lopez and Francisco Vargas
    • 11:30 a.m. - Abner Mares and Jonathan Oquendo
    • 11:45 a.m. - Erislandy Lara
    • 12:00 p.m. - Canelo Alvarez

     

    Fighter Workouts and Autograph Signings (Wednesday, July 9)

    Location: MGM Grand Casino Floor outside of the KA Theatre

    • 11:00 a.m. - Johan Perez, Tomoki Kameda and Yamaguchi Falcao
    • 11:20 a.m. - Jonathan Oquendo and Francisco Vargas
    • 11:40 a.m. - Erislandy Lara
    • 12:00 p.m. - Mauricio Herrera and Pungluang Sor Singyu
    • 12:30 p.m. - Juan Manuel Lopez
    • 12:45 p.m. - Jason Quigley
    • 1:00 p.m. - Canelo Alvarez 

     

    Official Weigh-In and Fan Experience (Friday, July 11)

    Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena

    • 1:00 p.m. - Doors Open
    • 3:00 p.m. - Weigh-in Begins
    • 4:00 p.m. – Canelo vs. Lara Fan Experience at Hecho Restaurant, MGM Grand

     

    Fight Night (Saturday, July 12)

    Location: MGM Grand

    • 1:00 p.m. - Doors Open
    • 2:15 p.m. - First Fight
    • 6 p.m. - PPV Telecast Begins

Odds and Prediction

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    Is Alvarez taking the wrong fight?
    Is Alvarez taking the wrong fight?Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Odds

    Alvarez (-165), Lara (+135), per Vegas Insider (at time of publication).

     

    Analysis and Prediction

    Alvarez has a lot going for him on Saturday. As one of the most popular fighters in the world, he should expect lots of fan support in the arena on fight night, something that could sway judges his way.

    Moreover, Alvarez is a big puncher with good boxing skills. He seems to be getting better and better every fight, and he seems to be headed to the top of the sport.

    In order to defeat Lara, though, Alvarez will need to come forward and throw lots of punches, something he’s been hesitant to do against top-level boxer-punchers like Lara. While Alvarez is a good boxer, he’s no match for Lara from the outside. If Alvarez stays at the end of Lara’s punches and doesn’t try to close the distance, he’ll easily be outboxed over the 12 rounds.

    Expect Alvarez to try to take the fight to Lara, even if it’s after he learns the hard way by giving the early rounds away. The fight will be very close, and both men will have their moments. Alvarez will try to cut off the ring and will have some success. However, Lara’s sharp counterpunches will be too strong for Alvarez to overcome. Canelo will become winded by the late rounds, and Lara will take over the fight.

    Lara will defeat Alvarez by majority decision. Two judges will rightly favor Lara’s accuracy and ring generalship, while a third judge will prefer Alvarez’s come-forward approach.

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