In a decision that is sure to spark controversy and debate in the coming days, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez overcame tricky Cuban southpaw Erislandy Lara on Saturday night, winning a split decision at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Scores were 117-111 and 115-113 for Canelo. Lara was favored 115-113 on the third scorecard.
Bleacher Report scored the contest 115-113 for Canelo.
Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 KO) was the aggressor throughout the fight.
He continually pressed forward, finding great success in attacking the body but overall having a hard time landing punches with consistency against his slick-moving opponent.
Lara (19-2-2, 12 KO) exhibited great ring generalship and defense, often relegating Canelo to chasing him around the ring with no return on his investment but a couple of potshots upstairs.
But if there was one flaw in the Cuban’s game—and one that provided Canelo with an opening—it’s that he wasn’t active enough in some rounds, and some judges don’t credit a fighter who constantly moves backwards.
Canelo, effective or not, was the fighter who was coming forward, and that’s seemed to be enough to sway the judges in an extremely tight—controversy, yes, robbery, no—fight.
In the co-featured bout, former multi-weight champion Abner Mares returned from an 11-month layoff following a devastating knockout, taking a lackluster unanimous decision from Jonathan Oquendo.
Scores were 98-92 twice and 96-94 for Mares.
Mares (27-1-1, 14 KO) was making his first appearance under new trainer Virgil Hunter, and it didn’t take long for several adjustments in his game to become apparent. The 28-year-old Mexican was far less aggressive, keeping his hands higher and using more side-to-side movement to frustrate his foe.
On the undercard, Francisco Vargas claimed the biggest scalp of his professional career, dropping and stopping former multi-weight world champion Juan Manuel Lopez on his stool after the third round.
Vargas (20-0-1, 14 KO) started out the fight with a healthy dose of respect for Lopez’s power, but he hurt the Puerto Rican several times, depositing him on the canvas in Round 3 and forcing his corner to stop the contest between rounds.
Lopez (34-4, 31 KO)—a former featherweight and super bantamweight champion—is known for his bravery, but he was out on his feet after being dropped, and his corner made the right call in saving him from further punishment.
In the opening bout of the evening, Mauricio Herrera proved that his close call against Danny Garcia earlier this year was no fluke, pounding out a deserved majority-decision win over Johan Perez to capture an interim WBA Junior Welterweight Championship.
Scores were 114-114, and 116-112 twice for Herrera.
Herrera (21-4, 7 KO) was his most effective when backing up. He fought well off the ropes, evading his foe’s punches while countering with big shots of his own to control the fight.